How to prepare your caravan for sale
By Alison Clements
What do you need to do when you are selling your caravan? A damp-smelling caravan strewn with the remnants of last year’s trip to Tenby won’t encourage many potential buyers to fall in love with your trusty tourer. To avoid this scenario, preparation is key. Nobody likes cleaning but the more time and care you take preparing a caravan or motorhome for sale, the more likely you are to get a good price. The pre-sale process isn’t very different from that of putting a house on the market. You need to clean, de-clutter, and carry out some basic maintenance work. It’s also worth spending some time putting your paperwork in order and doing your homework regarding price. Then make sure you write a good advert, and know what to say when buyers come calling.
Here are a few hints to help you get the price you deserve for your used caravan.
There are plenty of filthy caravans on the market, but common sense and experience has shown that these will sell far more slowly and at a lower price than models that have been spruced, scrubbed, aired and polished. Start by getting rid of all the unnecessary clutter when you are selling your caravan. Personalised items from mugs to maps should be removed, along with anything else that isn’t needed. You want to maximise the space in any way possible! Then focus on cleaning what you are left with. The toilet, sink, hob, side surfaces and floors should be spotless. Don’t forget to clean inside cupboards and drawers and remove all traces of mildew which will otherwise create a damp smell. It’s worth investing in specialist caravan cleaning fluids, carpet and upholstery shampoo and polish. Inside fabric elements such as removable carpets, seat covers, curtains, pelmets can be taken out and washed, and thoroughly dried. It might even be worth replacing these if the original are tatty and off-putting.
When tackling the exterior, focus on the windows, door shuts, and wheels. You might also want to use a step ladder to get to the roof and scrub any debris and green mould off there. Experts advise against using beach and pressure hoses as these can cause permanent damage, especially to the seals. Fenwick's Caravan Cleaner and a soft brush or sponge works well according to discussions on caravan forums. In some cases when selling your caravan you may be wise to employ the services of a professional caravan cleaner, as with the right tools and cleaning materials they can work wonders, and can be reasonably priced.
Make repairs if necessary
Ensure all the electrics and plumbing are working correctly, and do your best to get anything fixed that might crop up as a problem during viewings. Buyers will be looking out for stress cracks in the bodywork, damp patches in the ceiling, damaged piping, delamination of the flooring, and faulty electrics. Some may want a qualified electrician to check the caravan over, before deciding to buy. Mechanically, what condition are the lights, chassis, tyres and brakes in? Caravan doors and locks can become problematic with age, so make sure something simple like this doesn’t let you down. Carefully check that the taps, pump, drainage etc are fully functioning, and that fresh water tanks and waste tanks are all in good shape. Do all the appliances such as the heater, fridge, oven, showers work? It might be prudent to have them serviced before selling your caravan.
Write a great ad
When you advertise your caravan, make sure you supply as much detailed information as possible regarding model, age, layout, electrical and safety features. List additional equipment that you hope will be part of the sale, for instance awnings, towing equipment, took kit. And always include plenty of good quality photographs – ideally pictures of the exterior and interior, and if possible a floor plan, showing off all of your caravan’s best qualities. In readiness, you must have the service history to hand, CRiS documents and any receipts you have from any repairs your caravan has undergone. This will also make it simpler when the caravan actually changes hands.
Investing some time, a small amount of cash, and plenty of elbow grease should ensure your caravan looks immaculate to potential buyers. Clean caravans sell, so slip on those Marigolds, and good luck with your sale!
How to get the best price for your caravan
When selling your caravan once you have cleaned and repaired your caravan you’ll need to set a price. The rule of thumb is to start with a realistic figure, that won’t put prospects off. Don’t be too generous though. Set the price just above what you are willing to accept, leaving room for customers to haggle.
According to dealers and discussions on caravan forums, the market for second hand touring caravans is pretty saturated, and consumers are still cautious as we head out of a long recession. On the upside, there is a trend for ‘staycations’ with young families looking for affordable ways to enjoy outdoor activities.
Caravan dealers have a trade directory that sets out dealer forecourt prices for second hand caravans, so if you are selling through a specialist they can advise you. Selling privately you’re likely to get more - so long as you have a good product and an eye-catching advert. If you aren’t sure what your touring or static caravan is worth, take a look at websites that sell used caravans to get an idea of what other people are expecting for a similar model, layout and age to your caravan. You can also visit manufacturer sites – Lunar, Sprite, Elddis, Bailey, Avondale – to see if they list prices, and you can hit the phone and ask dealers and manufacturers directly about rule-of-thumb prices.
Think carefully about the condition your caravan is in, and adjust the recommended price accordingly. If you have had time to make repairs and you are confident your caravan is fully roadworthy with interiors intact and in working order, you can obviously expect more than if wear and tear has taken its toll. Forum discussions suggest that a two year old caravan that cost £10k new, would sell for around 20% to 30% less, and depreciation is around £800 a year thereafter – but these are ballpark figures, and prices will always be dependent on the model, and wider market demand.
These are two useful sites, which will help you understand caravan pricing:
Other points to consider:
Alison Clements is a well-travelled journalist and blogger. Favourite spots for family camping and caravan trips are Pembrokeshire, Dorset’s Jurassic coast, Brittany and her home county of East Sussex.