Getting a Great Deal May Be Easier Than You Think at RV Auctions


RV auctions should be on your list of targets if you are looking for reasonably priced RVs in good condition.

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Up to now, you have probably been looking in newspapers, at RV wholesalers and at RV dealerships. Auctions may be the key to saving yourself a ton of money.

In this article, we take a look at what auctions are, and how they work. It should tell you everything you need to know about how it all works, and why it is a great option if you are in the market for a used RV.

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RV auctions can be a great place to buy a bargain, if you keep your cool and do your research

How Do RV Auctions Work?

Most finance companies will tell you that people who finance RVs are some of the least likely to default on the conditions of their loans – however, even though they're more likely to keep up to date, every once in a while, that's just not possible.

When someone defaults on their RV loans, the finance company usually gives them a grace period, often a couple of months, to get their repayments back up to date.

If they fail to do that, the finance company approaches a court, lawyer or collections agency, and begins the process of repossessing the vehicle. That is possible because when you take an RV loan, the vehicle itself serves as a part of the surety for the finance company.

Once a court order is granted, the finance company repossesses the RV – but they still do not have their money.

This Creates Inventory of Repossessed RVs

That is where auctions come in.

Finance companies who have repossessed RVs standing around are not getting their money back on them. So they approach auction houses, and allow them to list and auction the vehicles to the public at a public auction.

Usually, the reserve for the vehicles is well below the retail value for the same type of vehicle bought from an RV dealer. That is because they want to sell the vehicle fast, and usually, their contracts also state that any shortfall on the capital amount is still the responsibility of the loan defaulter.

When you go to an auction, you have the opportunity of bidding on those RVs, and of buying them from the auction house at a very much-reduced rate. The finance company is happy, because they have some of their money back, and you get a great RV at a low price. Everyone wins!

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How to Buy Vehicles at RV Auctions

Most big cities have auction ads in newspapers and online. If you are in the market to buy repossessed RVs at great prices, you should make sure you watch those ads closely. Find out when the auction is happening, and mark it in your diary.

It helps to decide on a budget, and get a pre-approved RV loan before the auction too. Remember, when you buy anything on auction, you need to finance the sale on the day – so be prepared!

When you arrive at the auction, it is a good idea to get there early. That way, you will have time to look at the various repossessed RVs that are being auctioned, and make a note of the lot numbers you want to bid on. Inspect them carefully, and make sure that they are worth the reserve price, at the very least.

There are two main types of RV auctions: silent and live. If you attend silent RV auctions, all you will have to do to bid on a particular vehicle is to write the amount you are willing to pay down, and give it to the auctioneer. They will open all the bids, and whoever has bid the highest 'wins'.

Live RV auctions are the type of auction we all know from TV. An auctioneer stands at the podium, reads out lot numbers, and the auction attendees bid in real time. Again, whoever bids highest gets the vehicle they have 'won' in the auction.

Even the well-known Airstream dealers have been known to buy at auction when they have customers waiting for a particular model. You are bound to be competing with RV wholesalers, too. The more competition there is for an RV, the higher the auction price will be. Set a price and stick to it.

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How Much Can You Save at RV Auctions?

One of the big questions a lot of people have about RV auctions is how much they can save. For instance, what is the difference between what you will pay for repossessed Airstream travel trailers at an auction, and what you would pay at one of the ‘proper' Airstream dealers out there.

It might surprise you to find out that it is not unheard of for people to save 40 or even 50 percent when they buy RVs at RV auctions.

When you consider that, those RVs might also be a few years (or even just a few months) old, that is a considerable saving to make.

RV auctions can offer a bewildering choice of vehicles. Photo used under a Creative Commons license courtesy of Puggles at Flickr

The Pros and Cons of RV Auctions

If all of this is sounding like the ideal way to get great savings on repossessed RVs, then you are right – it is!

There are, still pros and cons to RV auctions.

First the pros:

  • When you buy an RV on auction, you are almost guaranteed a good deal. Finance companies price them low, so they will sell fast, and you can get a fantastic RV going for a song.
  • Repossessed RVs are often almost new, and that because RV owners tend to take care of their vehicles, you should get a RV that is in near perfect condition (but make sure you inspect them beforehand anyway!)

Then there are the cons:

  • You might not find the make or model you want when you visit RV auctions. It is the luck of the draw really, so you might have to buy something other than your dream RV, or keep going to more auctions.
  • You will also have to have finance lined up before you go, and none of the RVs will be brand new.

You might also find it difficult to reconcile your good fortune in buying a half-price RV, with the knowledge that some person has had their RV repo'd. Try to bear in mind, however, that the sale price the auction house gets will offset their debt.

The positives of RV auctions almost always outweigh the negatives by a large margin, but if you have your heart set on a particular model, or on new rather than repossessed RVs, they are probably not for you.

What Next?

Need finance? Apply for RV financing or loans. We'll connect you with our trusted lenders and get you the best deal for your dollar.

Need insurance? Get one of our RV insurance quotes.

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