The Best RVs for Holding Value
Unfortunately, we all know that RVs depreciate rapidly. But are there any RVs that hold value better than others? What about RV brands?
Today we’ll look at just how much RVs depreciate and what brands to look for if you want an RV that will hold its value longer.
Let’s dig in.
How Well Do RVs Hold Their Value?
RVs, whether motorized or towable, are notorious for depreciation. Some RVs hold their value better than others for various reasons. In general, RVs lose between 30% and 45% of their value after only five years of ownership.
RVs tend to lose their value quickly because of the nature of their construction and use.
How Much Do RVs Depreciate Each Year?
On average, fifth wheels tend to depreciate the fastest, followed by Class A and Class B motorhomes. Let’s take a closer look.
Motorized RV Depreciation Estimates
Class A RVs lose around 30% of their value in the first three years of ownership. After 10 years, a Class A RV will be worth less than half of what you paid for it.
Class B RVs are the smallest but the most expensive by square footage. They depreciate similarly to Class A motorhomes, losing around 30-33% of their original value after three years of ownership.
Class C RVs hold their value the best of any RV. Class C RVs depreciate about 38% after five years of ownership.
Pro Tip: Every RVer has different needs and wants when purchasing an RV, so knowing what each class type offers is important. These are The Pros and Cons of RV Class Types.
Towable RV Depreciation Estimates
Travel trailers are a great option for a low-priced camper in virtually any length and floor plan. Travel trailers lose approximately 40% of their value after five years of ownership.
Fifth wheels are the biggest towable RV option, and they lose their value more rapidly than any other class or type. According to Camper Guide, fifth wheel RVs lose an astounding 45% of their value in five years of ownership and 71% after 10 years.
What Type of RV Holds Its Value Best?
According to NADA, Class C RVs tend to hold their value the best. Other real-world examples of RVs that hold their value the best include popular cult-classic models like Airstreams, both towable and motorized, and molded fiberglass camper trailers.
Molded fiberglass campers fall into the travel trailer category, but these campers hold their value much better than almost any other travel trailer. This is because molded fiberglass campers are less susceptible to water damage due to their molded waterproof construction.
Which RV Brand Holds Its Value Best?
Airstream campers hold their value incredibly well, most likely due to the household name and build quality. Not only are Airstreams aesthetically pleasing, but they also employ quality craftsmanship, beautiful interior design, and durable materials.
As mentioned above, molded fiberglass campers hold their value extremely well. These campers are less susceptible to water damage and mold. Popular brands of molded fiberglass campers include Casita, Scamp, and Oliver.
Things That Make RVs Lose Their Value
Just about everything you do with an RV makes it lose its value! RVs are a constantly depreciating asset. Here are some of the top factors that make RVs lose their value.
Driving Off the Lot
According to Camper Guide, you lose around 20% of your camper’s value just by driving it off the lot. This is sometimes enough to scare people away from buying new.
The age of your camper is one of the largest determining factors in the rate of depreciation. For example, a 10-year-old fifth wheel may lose 71% of its initial value.
More factors go into depreciation with motorhomes than towable RVs. This is because motorhomes are both a vehicle and an RV. Mileage can affect motorhome depreciation. Too many miles can cause a motorhome to depreciate, but too few miles can affect it, too.
If an older motorhome has low miles, a prospective buyer knows that the engine sat unused for long periods. This can cause damage to the engine and bring the value of the RV down.
Water damage is one of the most common issues with used RVs. Because RVs are constantly moving and have many seams, including several along the roof, they’re susceptible to rain, snow, and ice leaks.
One leak one time may not cause any damage. But with RVs, you often don’t know the roof or window is leaking until it’s too late. Water seeps into the ceiling, walls, and floor. It rots the wood, causing soft spots and toxic mold growth. Water damage can total an RV, so it’s a major factor in RV depreciation.
Pro Tip: Protect your RV’s value by preventing water damage. This is Where RV Water Damage Will Show Up First.
Collision Damage and Wear and Tear
Obviously, any external signs of collision damage, tree branch scratches, dings, and dents will lower the value of your RV. Internal wear and tear include dirty carpets, leaking plumbing, discoloration or odors of any kind, and more.
Is an RV a Good Investment?
While an RV might not be a wise investment in terms of monetary return, it’s a great investment for making memories. Purchasing an RV to live in to save money on renting or owning a house can also be a wise decision.
You have to weigh the pros and cons of RV ownership for your own lifestyle and expectations. For many people, the memories you make with the purchase of an RV outweigh any potential downsides or monetary loss. Have you ever resold an RV? Were you able to get good value out of it?
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I personally found the little Toyota class c motorhomes hold their value quite well. Often selling for quite a bit more than the original cost. Just like the Harley Davidson it has a cult following and several helpful clubs, Not the best motorhome but very popular. Used mine for a few Florida trips and sold it for what I paid for it several years ago. Just an F>Y>I> Thanks for the good article. Keep up the good work.
I bought my 2005 Rialta QD with 5,300 miles on her for $45K in 2006 from the original owner and put 66K more miles on her during the 15 years I owned her, driving through every contiguous state and around Canada as I boondocked while doing genealogical research in archives, libraries, courthouses & cemeteries. Urban boondocking is easy in a Rialta and I estimate I slept over 300 nights without hookups. I reluctantly sold her in 2021 for $31K to an RV dealer.
Hey Kyle and Olivia, great article, like all the others you guys post, but I wonder why you don’t include truck campers in the mix. They are becoming more popular now, and the build times at the various manufacturers seems to getting longer, not shorter.
Great article I enjoyed reading it and it gave me quite a bit of information that I did not know about my RV and other RVs we have recently became a full-time RV here so thank you for writing this article and I hope that you continue doing more great articles / newsletters. Thank you I look forward to future newsletters/articles and God bless you and your family
With the wait time for new Oliver Travel Trailers at around 10 months most used models are selling at close to their original sales price for people not wanting to wait. You should take a ride up to Tennessee for a factory tour.