How to buy an RV, from choosing the right type of vehicle to financing

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  • If you’re considering buying an RV, know what type of RV you want before you start looking and plan to be patient as sales have increased during the pandemic.
  • Plan to buy locally, because you’ll want to have a connection with the dealership if something goes wrong with your RV later on.
  • Get the best finance and insurance deal by shopping around and comparing offers before settling on a loan or policy.
  • See Business Insider’s Top Picks for RV Loans in 2020 »

RV buying has flourished since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as travel trailers, campers and other types of recreational vehicles provide a safe way to get out of the house with the family.

“RVs can be a very affordable way for people to travel, especially in a time when people are a little more hesitant to fly,” says Phil Ingrassia, president of the National RV Dealers Association.

But, pandemic or not, the process of buying an RV is largely the same as it always has been. Ingrassia says the process is similar to experiences you’ve probably had before. “If you bought a car, you’re going to have a similar experience at an RV dealership,” he says.

Here’s what you need to know about the process if you’re thinking about buying an RV.

How to buy an RV

1. Think long term about the type of RV you want

Motorhomes come in many shapes and sizes, from simple towable pop-up motorhomes to full-size coaches. Ingrassia says two questions will largely determine the size of RV you need. “How long are you going to be in the unit and how are you going to use it? Are you more of a rustic backcountry camper or are you going to be in a KOA with a pool?”

Ingrassia also urges buyers to think about their current car or vehicle before buying a motorhome – it may or may not be suitable. “The bulk of RVs being bought and sold right now are on the towable side, and I think people have to be careful to match their tow vehicle they already have with the appropriate RV,” he says.

Whether you plan to tow with an SUV or a super-duty truck, make sure your tow vehicle can handle the load before you buy. Information about this should be available in your car’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. And make sure your towing vehicle is already equipped with a towing package – if not, you may need to install one.

2. Do your research online and be patient when shopping

“There’s incredible demand for RVs right now, so I encourage people to check out what’s available and what meets their needs,” Ingrassia says. Doing some research online can help you learn more about the options currently available and the budget for your purchase.

Ingrassia is also encouraging people to be patient with their purchase during the pandemic, “especially for some of the hot floor plans for the entry-to-mid towable. [RVs]”, he says. “I’m not saying they’re not here, but to get exactly what you want, you might have to pre-order it.”

3. Buying from a local dealer can help you down the road

It can be tempting to drive a long distance to pick up your RV – after all, you have a place to stay once you get there. But Ingrassia says buying close to home is often a smarter choice, as you’ll likely have to work with the dealer again in the future.

“We always encourage people to buy locally, within a comfortable driving distance of their homes,” he says. “RVs are houses on wheels, and they require maintenance, and things can vibrate and break. If you need service on any of the unit’s systems, like electricity or plumbing, you have a dealer that you’ve done business with that can help you.”

4. Do your research for financing and get several offers

Financing an RV purchase is similar to financing a car purchase. “At an RV dealership, you can bring in your own financing,” Ingrassia says. Like buying a car, getting pre-approved for an RV loan before heading to the dealership can give you an idea of ​​what your rate might be and give you a starting point to negotiate.

And, like car dealerships, financing is often available at the dealership. “Dealers work with nationwide lenders who are very experienced in RV loans and can offer you very competitive rates,” Ingrassia says.

Getting multiple offers, both on your own and through the dealership, can help ensure that you’re getting the lowest interest rate possible.

5. Get the right insurance

Like a car, an RV will need to be insured before you can take it home. Shopping around for your RV insurance is a great way to save money, get multiple options, and compare them to find the policy that offers the most coverage for the lowest premium.

Ingrassia says RV insurance options have expanded in recent years. “Some of the major carriers, as RVs have grown in popularity, now have VR programs,” he says. If your insurance company offers RV insurance, bundling your policy with a home or auto insurance policy can make it cheaper.

But, Ingrassia says anyone having difficulty finding a policy can ask a dealer. “If you’re concerned about insurance, dealers can also give you advice.”

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