Can an RV Increase in Value?

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By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

Can an RV Increase in Value?

An RV is a house on wheels, but does it increase its value like a sticks and bricks house?

It has many of the same features. You can get RV insurance that protects your possessions, similar to homeowners insurance.

But the value of an RV isn’t as straightforward. Today, we’ll evaluate if any RVs might increase their value over time.

Let’s jump in!

How Much Does an RV Depreciate Each Year? 

Generally, RVs lose value over time, just like automobiles. Even if your RV is stationary, it will likely depreciate. An RV will depreciate an average of 21% of the purchase price when you drive it off the lot.

After taking the upfront hit the first year, an RV can depreciate up to 10% the first year. After that, it loses 6% every following year. Then, about five years in, that depreciation will level off.

Do Any RVs Gain Value Over Time? 

Most RVs don’t gain value over time, but there’s an exception to the rule. If you refurbish an older RV that already depreciated and sell it, it could gain value.

Flipping RVs has worked as an income stream for some. For example, a Michigan woman made $22,000 from selling renovated RVs. 

If you purchase a renovated RV, don’t expect it to be worth more if you sell it one day. RV dealers are unlikely to take a modified RV in on trade because it lacks original features.

They can’t price it at the same MSRP as the same non-renovated model. Therefore it holds little value for them.

Pro Tip: Here are 5 reasons you should avoid RV dealers.

Which RVs Hold Their Value Best? 

Based on recent data from Consumer Reports, class B motorhomes tend to hold their value better than other RVs. These smaller RVs can be on the pricey side.

This is because they sit on either a Mercedes-Benz, Ford, or Ram chassis.

But the benefit is that they don’t depreciate as much as other RVs when kept in good condition. Some manufacturers to watch in this arena include Airstream, Winnebago, and Leisure Vans, among others.

Which RVs Depreciate Fastest? 

Fifth wheels, class A, and class C motorhomes depreciate fastest. A general rule of thumb is the larger the RV, the quicker the depreciation rate. Class A motorhomes can lose an average of 30% of their value in the first three years.

Class C motorhomes can lose 38% after five years and fifth wheels 45% after five years.

Big-name brands like Winnebago and Jayco typically hold their value the longest. So if you’re looking for a used fifth wheel, class A, or class C RV, look for the brands that depreciate more gradually than others.

5 Things That Make Your RV Lose Value Faster 

No matter the class of RV or brand, five things make an RV depreciate faster.

1. Driving Off the Lot 

The minute you drive an RV off the lot, it depreciates. There’s no way around it. An RV loses value as soon as you’re out of the dealer’s lot, like an automobile.

2. Age and Mileage

Age and mileage contribute to an RV’s value. RVs lose value every year, although the depreciation rate typically slows after five years. 

Mileage is also a contributing factor. The more miles, the more wear and tear the RV has suffered. However, keep in mind that if you’re purchasing a two-year-old RV and it only has 200 miles on it, you may want to think twice.

Newer RVs the owner didn’t use much may also come with issues no one noticed during the warranty period.

3. Visible Damages/Wear and Tear

Any visible damage or general wear and tear on an RV will affect its value. If you know you’re only going to have your RV for a year, be sure to keep it as clean and well-maintained as possible.

The better shape it’s in, the greater chance you’ll have of selling it for a fair price.

4. Water or Smoke Damage 

Water or smoke damage can wreak significant havoc on your RV’s value, particularly if it’s not professionally fixed when you go to sell the RV.

5. RV Type 

The type of RV contributes to its depreciation rate. As discussed earlier, class B motorhomes hold their value better than class A or class C motorhomes or fifth wheels. 

Manufacturers also play a role. For example, an Airstream is likely to hold its value much longer than a Forest River. That’s not to say you shouldn’t purchase a Forest River or similar RV. It’s simply the realities of the market.

Is Buying an RV a Good Financial Investment? 

Buying a brand new RV isn’t a good financial investment. A new RV takes its biggest depreciation hit when you drive it off the lot. While you may purchase new, keep in mind how much of its value you’ll lose in the first year. If that works with your budget, we say go for it and buy new.

You’ll get a warranty, and you won’t inherit problems from a previous owner.

Buying a used RV keeps you from taking the initial hit. However, we still wouldn’t classify an RV as a good financial investment. You’ll be hard-pressed to make money or break even when selling a used RV unless you’re flipping an older RV and can sell it at a fair price.

RVs Rarely Gain Value, But…

We still think buying an RV is an excellent investment in your travels, adventures, self-care, family time, and more. RVing is about exploring and making memories.

If you stay within your budget when purchasing an RV, we think you’ll find it a worthwhile investment. Have you ever sold an RV? How much value did you get out of it?

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2 comments

  1. Your depreciation schedule where the curve flattens out at 5 years implies this is the best time to buy a used RV (in 2022 look for a 2017). In my 26 years dealing with RVs, I have found this to be TRUE! It should also be pointed out that now (2021), for the first time I’ve seen, used RV values are paradoxically going up due to a perfect storm of COVID and its effects. My 2012, which I bought in 2017 for $70k, went down to $55k but since COVID, is now back to $70k and still going up. I am selling, and this is a good time for the sellers. However, I’ll wait until the market goes back down to buy again as it is a bad time for buyers.

  2. Generally true! Of course in post COVID madness [housing shortage, skyrocketing rents, record job loss, people escaping to extreme rural, back log on getting Tiny Houses built or to buy [almost impossible], working remotely etc..]; there is huge run on any decent RVs. The high demand/shortage is making RV prices skyrocket. Not the norm, but current reality. Record # are moving into RVs!!!

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