When you buy a car, are you the type of person who must buy new? You want to be the first to drive it, you want a car with no miles on the odometer, and you love that new car smell? Or, do you buy “slightly” used? You let someone else take the hit on the depreciation. You can surely find the make and model you want without ever leaving your computer screen. You can now even purchase a car online and have it delivered right to your door!
Buying a new motor home is similar but different. Very different. When you buy a new (your make and model go here) it’s the same car as the one down the street at the other (your brand name car goes here.) The equipment is most likely the same, the warranty is the same, the decision centers around what price will you pay or which dealer has a better reputation. Cars are made on an assembly line, mostly by robots. The same thing happens over and over, car after car.
A motor home is hand built one at a time. The same make and model can have a very different floor plan depending on how it was ordered. We have been looking for a Tiffin Phaeton 40 QBH. Some have two couches up front, some have an L-shape couch, some have a couch that faces a recliner, same make, same model. You have to look at each one individually to find the floor plan that works for you. Because each coach is made by hand, they also differ with mechanical issues. Some manufacturers are very concerned about their quality reputation, others just build and ship and let any mechanical issues handled by the dealers service department.
Purchasing used has the advantage of “the shake out tour.” Hopefully the couple before you already fixed any issues that may have arisen. And if you are really lucky, they already installed the satellite TV system, have added a tire pressure monitor system, or the tow bar for your toad, and/or any other equipment that is on your wish list.
What is MSRP? Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price. Again, depending on the make and model, a new motor home can list for hundreds of thousands of dollars and can easily exceed a million dollars! Really! I’ve read over and over again, when purchasing new, offer as much as thirty percent off the MSRP. Let’s do the math: if the asking price for a coach is $345,000, I hope to purchase this for $241,500?! This seems unbelievable to me that there is that kind of markup, but what do you have to loose in the game of negotiation?
It’s been my experience so far, the first step for us was to set the budget. Then we search for the make and model we want, hopefully with the right combination of elements in the floor plan. I doubt we will ever find the perfect used coach, just one with most of the things we want. Don’t be afraid to look anywhere in the country. There are appraisers you can hire to give you the real story on a unit you think you want to purchase. The final determining factor for us will be what model year will the coach be, given our available budget and our wish list.