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Do RV Renovations Boost or Bust Resale Value?

Published on December 15th, 2023 by Emily Lawrence

Interior of an RV renovation

Will RV Renovations Increase Your RV’s Resale Value?

Buying and selling RVs can be a nerve-wracking ordeal. As a seller, you need to get every cent you can out of the deal in order to fight the tide of depreciation. You might think that making significant RV renovations will improve the value of your RV. However, this isn’t always the case. RV renovations are hit or miss. Sometimes they can help you retain your resale value, but sometimes they just make you waste time and money. You need to make changes that will appeal to buyers without going overboard and spending more than you’ll earn.

This is a tricky balance to walk, especially because every RV buyer is looking for something different. In general, you should strive to highlight your RV’s best qualities and modernize it as much as possible. But don’t go overboard with gadgets and overhauls that provide little/no value. We’ll talk about some different RV renovation ideas below so you can identify the good from the bad.

Resale Value and Depreciation

First things first, let’s acknowledge some basic facts: If you buy a brand-new RV, you’ll never be able to sell it for the same price (no matter how much money and work you put into it). RV depreciation is no joke, and buyers will often lose 20-30% of the value within the first year. So if you’re trying to make money off of an RV sale, you never want to buy a new model. Vintage campers and secondhand RV renovations can sometimes be successful, but again, you’ll need to put in a lot of money to make them marketable. In the end, the goal is usually to reduce the impact of depreciation and get the best deal possible. If you can break even, that’s amazing!

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Many people aim to use an RV for a few years, then trade it in for a newer model. Properly maintaining your RV ensures that you get a fair deal when it’s time for an upgrade. But renovations are a slippery slope. Some dealers won’t accept models that have been heavily altered. Private sales are another story, though! You may be able to find a buyer who will pay extra for your unique RV. It’s certainly risky to make extensive changes, so keep that in mind as you browse the sections below.

Risky RV Renovations

Structural/Mechanical Changes

Small tweaks and aesthetic changes are pretty safe when you want to update an RV. These are fairly cheap and easy to implement. Plus, you can remove them before putting the vehicle back on the market. But it’s much riskier to try to make major structural and mechanical changes. Unless you’re a professional, you could easily cause irreversible damage to the RV. Even if you do every RV renovation perfectly, other buyers might not fully trust your vehicle. They won’t have any guarantee that these changes will hold up over time. In addition, you could void several warranties once you start messing with the base structure of an RV. This strips away your protection and will force you to pay for repairs and replacement out of pocket.

Major Floor Plan Alterations

You also need to be careful when you’re messing with an RV interior. These spaces are thoughtfully designed and constructed. So if you start adding or removing major elements, you could throw off the balance of the entire thing.In addition, floor plan changes are risky because buyers aren’t expecting them. If people are looking for a specific RV model and layout, they probably like the way it was originally built.

Fancy Gadgets

It’s tempting to deck out your RV with the latest and greatest technology. But if you think you’ll get a return on your investment, you’re usually wrong. Gadgets and high-tech upgrades are expensive, but you can’t always convince buyers that these features justify a higher price. This often includes things like hydraulic leveling, extra awnings, outdoor grills, and new TVs and speaker systems. You might enjoy them but you shouldn’t expect to get your money back.

Quirky Decorations

An RV renovation can be a great place to express your individuality. You can decorate to your heart’s content, but beware of making major stylistic choices. Throw pillows, wall hangings, and light fixtures are fair game. But it’s not always smart to paint with bright colors or install quirky backsplash tiles. If you plan on reselling your RV in the future, it needs to be palatable to a variety of buyers. Your style won’t be appealing to everyone, so try to keep things neutral.

Heavy Furniture and Appliances

Weight is another factor you need to consider. RVs are carefully designed and balanced to create an easier driving experience. If you start replacing furniture, beds, and appliances, you might accidentally overburden your RV. This can cause structural issues. In addition, it will reduce your cargo carrying capacity because the entire thing is heavier now.

Style Over Substance

As you perform RV renovations, you need to keep functionality at the top of your priority list. It’s tempting to create a clean, minimalistic space that’s worthy of an Instagram photoshoot. But remember that buyers are looking for vehicles that are comfortable and practical. Be mindful of any dead space in your redesigns. Don’t remove cabinets or seating just for the sake of it. Ensure that every part of your floor plan serves a purpose.

Worthwhile RV Renovations and Upgrades

Eco-Friendly Upgrades

On the other hand, there are some RV renovations that can help you retain or raise your resale value. For instance, eco-friendly upgrades are currently in high demand. Lots of people are looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact. Solar panels and batteries are the most popular upgrades. Customers are often willing to pay extra for these features when they buy new RVs, so the same principle applies here. You can also add water-saving fixtures to reduce your water consumption.

Better Mattresses

RV beds are often a pain point for travelers. The mattresses are sometimes thin and cheap, so they don’t provide the proper support. If you upgrade your beds to something that’s more comfortable, that will be a huge selling point!

Upgraded Appliances

Appliances are hit or miss in terms of resale value. You might have to spend a lot of money to get new models, and this isn’t always reflected in the resale price. However, you could definitely lose money if you try to sell an RV with old, malfunctioning appliances. As a general rule of thumb, you should try to replace any appliance that’s more than 5 years old. You don’t have to get brand-new replacements either! Just install something that’s a bit nicer. Items like dishwashers and stackable washers and dryers could also bump you up in the ranks.

Add Outlets and USB Ports with RV Renovations

Modern RVers tend to travel with lots of gadgets and appliances that need to be plugged in. If your RV only has a few available outlets, this can be a major red flag. On the other hand, adding tech upgrades like additional outlets and USB ports makes your vehicle more accessible and appealing. Be sure to highlight this feature!

Dinette Replacements

Earlier, we mentioned the risks of messing with your existing floor plan. The main exception to this rule is dinettes. Many people consider these to be space-wasters. They take up a lot of room, and you don’t use them too often. Unless you need this fixture as an extra bed or for storage space, consider swapping it out for a removable table and chairs.

Increase Hidden Storage During RV Renovations

Finally, see if there are any opportunities for you to increase the RV storage capacity. Everyone needs space to store their cargo. It’s even better if you can tuck things out of sight! Try to install drawers under beds, seats, etc. You can also improve your kitchen/pantry storage by adding pull-out shelves. The more storage space you have, the better your resale value will be.

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