Buying a bank repossessed (foreclosed) RV camper such as motorhomes, toy haulers, fifth-wheels, and travel trailers can represent significant savings, however actually buying a repo at auctions, or directly from the lender, often isn’t quite as simple, fast, or easy as you might think at first.
In this article we will try to help you cut through the confusing mess you’ll encounter when trying to locate a bargain-priced unit on the Internet. Here are a few important matters you need to consider during your search:
- Many of the RVs advertised as repossessed units really aren’t repos. This section explains what you need to know before you start shopping.
- Where to find RVs that are actual units for sale by the lender, or units put up for auction by the lenders.
- Researching through Repo Auction Websites
- Contacting Local Banks, Credit Unions, and Lending Companies in Your Area
- The idea of buying a repossessed RV versus the reality. Are you really getting a bargain or would you be better off buying a used RV from a local dealer?
- Salvage RVs – Are you mechanically inclined? Consider looking into the murky world of damaged RVs for a unit you can repair yourself.
So, you’ve logged onto the Internet and done a search for repoed RVs for sale and you’re presented with a page full of results touting repossessed units that you can buy right now. Here is what you need to know when you’re browsing the search results you’ve found:
First, a great number of RV Dealerships are advertising that they have repossessed RVs for sale. In fact, in a roundabout way the dealership may be selling an RV that was, or still is, a repo. The problem is that after the RV dealer has prepped, repaired, and added their markup to the amount needed to pay off the bank or credit union that was the original lender, you’re actually buying a used RV priced no differently than any other used RV on the lot.
Second, unless you are buying directly from the actual lender, or from an auction that represents the lender, you aren’t really buying a repo. With auctions, you will incur additional costs over and above buying directly from the lender.
Take a close look at the search results you’ve uncovered on the internet. Odds are that you’ll click through an incredible number of listings before you find a repossessed RV for sale by the actual lender that had to take the unit back. The next logical question is how to find the actual lender that has an RV in its repo inventory?
Where to find RVs that are actual units for sale by the lender, or units put up for auction by the lenders.
If you’ve been doing your own Internet search for repossessed RVs for sale then by now you’ve discovered that far too many of the pages listed are actually used and new RVs listed by dealers and brokers. Below, we’ll try to help you cut through the crap.
Lenders such as Banks, Credit Unions, and other finance companies unload their repossessed inventory primarily through physical auction houses, online auction services, and their own websites. You can locate the repo pages for many lending institutions through a web search.
One of the easier searches you can do is for credit unions offering lender-owned units for sale. You will have to have a lot of patience wading through each website and most of the listings will contain repossessed automobiles. There will also be a few RVs that show up.
At google.com and enter this search term in the search box: “credit union” + repo -.com and you will see pages of lender-owned inventory. The problem is narrowing your search down by state. A website that has already taken care of sorting the lending institution’s RV repos by the state is https://www.repofinder.com/blog/repo-rvs-sale/.
While you are researching repo auction websites on the Internet you are going to find companies that are dealers disguising themselves as auction sites. When a company inspects, repairs, and then offers up an RV for sale, they are a dealer adding on a profit margin, not a lender trying to unload repossessed inventory. Don’t be fooled by clever wording and website design.
eBay – Many sellers on eBay know that there are quite a few people searching for repo RVs and have manipulated their listings to show RVs that are in fact not repossessed. Most of the repo listings on eBay are from dealers that have either acquired a repo and done work to it or are just falsifying their listings. If you do your own direct search on eBay for yourself don’t be shocked that many, or most, of the listings aren’t repos. There is an excellent chance that you will not find a legitimate repo RV listing on eBay.
CrankyApe – According to the websites Bloomberg, Inc and CrankyApe.com, Midwest Recreational Clearinghouse, doing business as CrankyApe.com, specializes in remarketing bank repossessed, insurance repairable recreational vehicles along with consignments. CrankyApe.com provides these items for purchase by the general public via an online electronic bidding system.
Should you decide to bid on an RV you’ve found at CrankyApe, bear in mind that you will have to factor in these important facts:
- The RV will have to be picked up by you at one of the warehouses listed over here–>
- RVs sold through CrankyApe are sold AS-IS with no guarantees. Therefore, it is important that you verify the make, model and year manufactured are accurate. In addition, there may be damage to the unit or non-functioning equipment. It is your specific responsibility to verify the condition of the RV you’re bidding on. To see and inspect the RV you may have a long trip to where the unit is available for potential buyers to view. On their webpage, CrankyApe provides a list of independent contractors that you can hire to inspect the RV for you. The link to this resource can be viewed by clicking here.
To bid on repossessed RVs at CrankyApe you will have to pay a fee to register at their website. Before you sign-up with them, you should take the time to read their FAQ page by clicking here.
AMI – Asset Management Inc. is an online auction and live auction service available to the public. According to their website, AMI auctions repossessed RVs for banks and financial institutions. Do your due diligence before you sign up to place a bid and make sure that you know where the RV you’re wanting to bid on is located. This company is based in Minnesota. You can visit their website at http://www.amiauction.com.
For most people looking to buy a repossessed RV, asking the local banks within a reasonable driving range if they have a bid sheet you can fill out for their repo inventory is a good starting point.
Every lender’s policies are different and you’ll want to inquire whether they:
- Accept bids up to a set date for specific units (Are they holding the RV until multiple bids have been received)?
- Accept reasonable offers to buy the RV now?
- Will tell you what they will accept right now for the unit?
You will also want to be able to inspect the RV to determine the extent of damage, if any, to the unit. Do as much research as possible to find out what the actual fair market value is for the exact year, make and model of the RV they are selling. Don’t be surprised when you discover that the RV is worth less than the outstanding loan balance the bank insists it needs to collect.
Yes, it is a fact that you can save thousands by buying the right repossessed RV for your camping adventure. However, odds are that to find that bargain you are going to have to do some serious work, spend lots of time in research, be prepared to travel, and do a fair amount of repair work yourself. Below are a few things you need to consider in your quest:
- One of the first problems you’ll encounter is time and patience. It could take days, or months to locate an RV that will work for you. If you’re in a hurry to buy an RV then trying to find the perfect bargain from a lender or through an auction might not be for you.
- Whether you are looking at a bank repo for sale by the original lender from their inventory, or a unit listed for sale at an auction site, you first have to understand whether or not you’re getting a fair deal. Don’t be shocked when you find out that your local bank is asking more for the RV than its actual NADA value. This is because often more is owed to the bank than the RV is actually worth. To get a starting price point, find out what the average price the RV is bringing at RV Dealership lots and what it is valued at through the NADA guides. If you can’t get the repossessed RV at a steep discount from the average fair market value then you may want to consider buying from a dealership where you can at least get some minimum warranty. When you buy a real repossessed RV there are going to be a lot of extra costs you’ll need to take into account to determine whether you’re getting a good deal.
- The RV you’re interested in buying could be located hundreds of miles from where you live. Are you willing to invest time and money going to inspect the unit and then back again to pick up the RV if you’re the successful buyer? Are you willing to pay someone to inspect the RV for you? Are you willing to pay someone to deliver the RV to you if you can’t go pick it up yourself? The distance factor can be very expensive.
- Can you get a good estimate to repair any substantial damage to the RV? Keep in mind that all RVs are fragile pieces of equipment prone to frequent and expensive problems. It is easy to find yourself faced with thousands of dollars in repair bills to repair or replace non-functioning appliances, heating and cooling equipment, brakes, tires, and general interior or exterior damage. One often-overlooked hazard with an RV is needed roof repairs that are easy to miss, particularly when you assume that since no leaks are apparent that the roof must be in good condition. Can you afford to pay to have the repairs done, or will you be able to do most of the work yourself? It is far too easy to underestimate repair costs if your need to own the RV overrides your common sense. Repair problems can begin on day one just trying to get the RV street legal, depending on the current condition of the unit. Be prepared for the worst before you get the RV home and then happy when things go smoothly. Then there are the costs of paying the auction company its fees, costs to transport the RV to you or pay to have it delivered to you. If there is a delay before you can arrange to pick up your RV are you going to have to pay extra storage costs? Is there still a warranty on the unit? If so, does it transfer to you and do you have to pay a transfer fee for the warranty? Are you getting a clear title or a certificate of repossession? If you’re getting an out-of-state certificate of repossession, issued so the lender isn’t required to have a signature on the title to sell the RV, then you need to find out if your local licensing agency will accept the out-of-state certificate of repossession and issue you a new title. If you aren’t absolutely certain you can get a clean title then you should move along to the next RV that meets your needs.
- Do you really understand the terms and conditions of the lender or auction service you’re buying from? It is worthwhile to take your time to ensure that you aren’t obligating yourself to some contingency that you don’t want to have to deal with. Most of these sales are “as is” and may require that you meet certain conditions before you’re allowed to bid or purchase. Once you bid on the RV it is yours, warts and all, unless another person outbids you. Be certain you’re comfortable as possible with the realistic outcome of being the successful purchaser.
Purchasing and rehabbing a salvage RV is not for the faint of heart and comes with extensive risks. Still, if you have the tools, the know-how, time and determination, you can acquire and repair a salvage RV for a fraction of the cost of buying a comparable used or new unit.
Buying a salvaged RV with the intent of making it livable and road-worthy is going to require a substantial investment of time researching salvage RVs, inspecting damaged RVs, realistically assessing repair costs, and determining whether you have the skills and determination required to bring the unit back to life. There will be many obstacles to know about and overcome including:
- Travel costs to inspect damaged RVs – Salvage units are located all across the United States
- Cost to transport the unit back to your location – a salvage RV may or may not be driven or towed depending on how it will be titled. If the unit was involved in an accident you aren’t likely going to be able to tow or drive it until it is “reconstructed” and a rebuilt salvage title has been issued. Every state has different laws regarding titling salvaged RVs, so take the time to make yourself a bit of an expert about the matter before you buy the unit. Find out from the seller whether you will be issued a salvage or clean title.
- If you buy a salvaged RV at an auction you’ll usually have a set number of days to take delivery before you are charged a daily storage fee.
- If you are issued a salvage title with the RV, you will have to schedule an appointment for your state’s DMV to inspect and approve your repaired RV before it may be titled. Additionally, you may be required to provide receipts for proof of your repairs.
- Insurance companies may be reluctant or refuse to insure a salvage-titled RV.
- A salvage title on your RV means that is unlikely that you’ll ever be able to sell the unit for the same price as undamaged models of RVs identical to yours.
- A suitable location where you can do repair work without running afoul of local ordinances
- Necessary electric, water, and sewer connections need at the repair site
- Costs to dispose of damaged materials you remove from the RV
- An array of tools and possibly temporary storage for supplies and repair materials
- Availability of parts and materials needed to complete repairs
- And other unforeseen issues not listed above
Still interested in repairing a salvaged RV after reading the list of problems above? Below is a list of websites that specialize in salvage RV auctions:
We’ve listed a few books that might be helpful if you intend to repair and maintain your RV. As of now, we can’t review any of the titles below because we haven’t actually read any of them, so you’re encouraged to read the author’s summary about the book and reviews posted at Amazon.com by people who’ve read the book.
Camper Rehab: A Guide to Buying, Repairing, and Upgrading Your Travel Trailer – This book is a top-to-bottom guide to getting a fifth-wheel, teardrop, or other camper trailer ready for the road and beyond. From basic troubleshooting to electrical and plumbing projects, replacing interior surfaces, and clever (sometimes “retro”) decorating ideas, this book uses detailed illustrations, color photography, and a wealth of step-by-step, how-to information to get help you get your travel trailer into shape for your next big–or little–adventure.
And in case you haven’t pulled the trigger on that trailer you’re eying on Craigslist just yet, Camper Rehab also walks you through the process of evaluating a potential purchase, identifying which issues are fixable and which are dealbreakers, as well as how to spot hidden problems. Written by accomplished DIY author Chris Peterson, whose light and approachable tone is coupled with the hardworking DIY information you need, Camper Rehab is a must-have for any camper owner or dreamer.
From the Amazon.com Website:
RV Repair and Maintenance Manual is the most popular resource for owners who prefer to work on their own RVs. The book features step-by-step procedures for maintaining and repairing RVs, presented in easy-to-understand layman’s terms and simple-to-follow instructions. From trouble-shooting guidelines to quick diagnoses and repairs, this manual will keep you rolling down the highway and not in the repair shop. Packed with valuable information, checklists, photos, and charts, the RV Repair and Maintenance Manual includes topics on electrical systems, LP-gas systems, water systems, sanitation systems, AC generators, heating systems, air-conditioning systems, refrigerators, trailer brakes, trailer suspensions, dinghy towing, hitches, drivetrain systems, solar power systems, ovens and ranges, microwaves and ice makers, exterior and interior care, and accessories.
From the Amazon.com Website:
: A Basic Guide to Troubleshooting, Repairing and Improvement – This problem-solving reference answers questions such as, “Why do interior lights dim or burn out rapidly” and “Why won’t the batteries recharge after a night without electricity?”
From the Amazon.com Website:
Best RV Tips from RVTipOfTheDay.com – These Best RV Tips come from fellow RVers, weekenders to life-timers, who have “been there, done that.” and happily share their experiences so you don’t have to learn the hard way.
No matter if you use your RV just a few weekends and holidays a year or make it your full time home, you will find tips that will make your RV travels easier, safer and more enjoyable. You’ll find tips that will save you time and money. You will find tips on getting your mail while traveling, internet access, boondocking, and work camping. You’ll learn how to save money on camping fees just by choosing where to stay and staying longer. You will get tips on how you can customize your RV to make your home.
From the Amazon.com Website:
Woodall’s RV Owner’s Handbook, 4th Edition – The RV Owner’s Handbook includes sections on general maintenance, driving and towing, winterization and spring shakedown, electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems, and much more.