We made the tough decision to sell our home. Deciding to sell a home is always an emotional one. Well, unless that home is a money pit, and even then they kept the place. At least I think they did…If I recall correctly. Which is potentially questionable because I’m old enough to have actually seen this movie thereby making me also old enough to have less-than-perfect memory of it.
But our Discovery was not a money pit. Not only was our Discovery our home for the most fun and unique year of our lives, we drove her through some pretty intense times too. Crazy weather. Traffic. Maintenance issues. Ice.
Bonding over good and bad. And while we definitely had some startup MoHo maintenance issues, by the time we left the Fleetwood Factory Repair facility in Alvarado back in December 2016, everything was working perfectly and the Disco was dialed in.
Which was part of our reasoning. RVs like this one are meant to be driven and used, not sitting in storage. We thought we would just hop in and take it for a weekend here and there, but Southern California is built more for roadsters than it is for RVs. Even with all the preventative maintenance we had completed, making sure tanks were dumped and cleaned, batteries were charged and then disconnected, etc. the likelihood of problems manifesting themselves after months in storage seemed high.
Cost was a factor too. Insurance alone was over $3,000 a year. Storage fees were over $5,000 a year and that’s for covered-but-still-outdoors storage. Getting California registration would be another $2,000. And depreciation was easily as much as all of those combined. So overall, it was costing us at least $1500 a month just to have it parked. Actually USING it would cost even more!
So faced with the prospect of $20k/year for a couple of trips, we reluctantly decided that such a wonderful rig would make some great memories for new adventurers!
We thought about the right way to try and sell it. Basically, we had 3 options.
- Sell it ourselves, private party.
- Sell it via consignment using an RV dealership
- Sell it to an RV dealership directly
Each of these had pros/cons.
Selling it ourselves:
Selling it ourselves had the POTENTIAL for the biggest return to us. We would expect a private party to pay more for the RV than a dealer would. Maybe as much as $10,000 – $15,000 That’s not chump change. On the other hand, this would be by far the most time-intensive and risky method.
First, the location of the RV meant that potential buyers would have to go way out of their way to see it. We would have to setup a time to meet that works for them and works for us, drive over to meet them and show the RV.
With my schedule this meant either late evenings or weekends only. Not ideal since the typical buyer is probably retired and wants to see it mid-day on a weekday.
Next, we would have to deal with the inevitable test drives. I had all sorts of visions of disaster happening from that. “Sorry I crashed your MoHo on the test drive. No, I don’t want it now. Oh, and I’m not paying for the damage. Your mirrors were faulty.”
Then would come negotiations. Followed by payment. That last part – paying for the MoHo – made me very nervous. On one hand, dealing with financing companies seemed like a real complication. On the other, getting scammed or having a check not clear also seemed like a possibility.
We had no idea how fast the MoHo would sell. If we priced it low, it would sell fast but we would make less (and at that point why not just sell to a dealership directly?). If we priced it too high, it might sit around all summer not selling. Used prices on RVTrader and on dealership web sites were all over the map – literally as much as $50k difference for the same MoHo!
Getting the right price would be important to balance between speed of sale and return. Taking a couple of months seemed likely, and that meant thousands of dollars lost out of our pocket on storage fees, insurance, depreciation, and registration.
Selling on consignment:
Selling on consignment seemed interesting. The MoHo would be at a dealership lot getting good visibility from potential buyers. The dealership would have salespeople on staff who could show it and demo it during normal business hours. We could cancel the storage costs. The dealership would sell it for a decent price and we would get most of that minus their consignment commission.
On the other hand, we were still at the mercy of how long a sale would take. Until it sold, we would have to carry insurance plus assume all the risk of it getting stolen or damaged. It could still take months.
In some ways consignment seemed like the best of both options (dealer sells it for us and handles the transaction) and in other ways the worst (we are still the owners with all the cost and risk attaching to that AND it would be subject to the million different things that could go wrong at the dealership). We would likely pocket less than we would with a private party but that is fair since we would be doing a lot less work.
Selling directly to a dealership was by far the quickest, easiest, and least risky option. We would agree on a price, they would cut us a check, and we would turn over the title and keys. Easy peasy. Of course, in exchange for the speed and lack of risk, we would get a lower amount. How much lower would be the question. To keep it fair, we would have to factor in a few months worth of ownership costs with the other options that we would not have to incur with an outright sale.
Basically, I assumed it would cost me $5,000 to consign or sell myself just due to the length of time those options would take (2 months) and how much I would loose during that time in storage, depreciation, insurance, etc. Now, that was a guess. I could have found a buyer in a few days maybe. No way to know.
Still, dealerships usually pay 10% to 15% BELOW whatever the NADA wholesale price is. Oh, and unlike a private party, the dealership will give no credit for upgrades like the Winegard satellite dish. So I expected their outright purchase offers to be pretty low.
Anyway, since the dealership route would be the one which resulted in the fastest price, and since I wanted to know what a dealer would pay, I started calling around. There are several big RV dealers in SoCal, but none larger than Mike Thompsons.
They have an entire page dedicated to buying RVs outright. I thought “what can it hurt” and so I called. I got a very friendly and helpful guy named Jordan Black. Jordan explained the process to me and took some details about our Discovery. He promised to call me later when he had a chance to check with the dealerships.
I thought “oh brother, here we go.” But, a few hours later I got a call from Jordan with an offer.
Now, before I talk about that offer, I had at least an idea in mind about what the number would be. MoHos, like any vehicle, have a “blue book” value. Both KBB and NADA have prices.
RVs being purchased outright by a dealership often get offers at 10% to 15% below the wholesale price. Why? Because there are so many things that could be wrong with an RV the dealership takes extra risk buying used ones. The floor could be rotted out under the shower. The owners could have had animals pee that soaked into every nook and cranny and the smell will never leave. There could be broken appliances. Electrical issues. AC units that don’t function. An actual inspection that might find all these issues could easily take half a day or more and would still miss stuff.
So I expected Jordan’s offer to be 15% below what I had calculated the wholesale price to be. To my surprise, he was less than 10% below. We did some haggling and eventually he got his offer up to wholesale. Since we paid less than wholesale last year when we bought it because of that whole “it is pre-owned but never used” thing, that seemed more than fair. Of course, they would have to see it, but I knew ours was in tip top shape.
So, we made a bittersweet trip over to unpack everything that was still left and basically “move out.
We took one last drive in the old girl. Which of course took us thorough some crazy traffic and turns. Driving that giant beast through residential California streets was a reminder of some of the hairier moments on our trip!
We pulled into Mike Thompsons and waited for a sales manager to come out and inspect. He did, and man did we ever feel stupid for making that thing spotless. He literally took 60 seconds. Didn’t put the slides out, didn’t turn the lights on, didn’t test anything. One quick lap around the outside and one quick lap halfway in the inside.
Never even looked in the storage compartments or the bedroom or the bathroom.
That was kind of anticlimactic, to be honest. But I was pleased there was no attempt to pull a “well, we can’t give you the number we promised because look at the wear on this couch” crap. Nope, Mike Thompson’s made this just about the the most painless transaction I can imagine. They even had all the paperwork pre-printed and ready for us to sign.
If you ever have to sell a MoHo, you can’t go wrong with Mike Thompson’s.
We took one last picture and that was that.
Actually, turns out that wasn’t that.
We had the keys to the locking tow hitch, but we couldn’t get the little lock to release. Which meant we couldn’t get our $900 Blue Ox tow bar released. Not only did we want to keep our Blue Ox, the dealership is not legally allowed to sell it so they didn’t want it either. Finally one of the mechanics was able to get it to pop off.
Tow bar in hand, we climbed back in the Jeep and drove out of Mike Thompson’s parking lot and back south toward our apartment. It was a bittersweet moment. We knew that keeping her was just not realistic, but letting go was hard. Not just because of all the happy memories, but also because it means we really were settling down again.