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How To Protect Yourself When Selling An RV Privately


RV and travel trailer in parking lot - feature image for Selling An RV Privately
Thinking about selling an RV privately? There are some things you should know first.

Protect Yourself Before Selling An RV Privately

If you are thinking about selling an RV privately, there are some things you should know before you put your rig up for sale.

1. Safety first

Never meet a buyer alone. If it is a drivable type of RV, ensure that you (and whomever you bring) ride with the buyer if they are seeking a test drive. If you absolutely must meet a buyer alone, be sure to meet in a public space. When you first arrive, ask to take a picture of them holding their driver’s license, and then immediately send the image to a trusted friend or relative who is expecting to receive it after discussing the situation with them ahead of time.   

Do not disclose any non-relevant personal information. Remove any personal information, documents, and belongings from the vehicle prior to showing it to potential buyers.

2. Only accept cashier’s checks or certified bank checks

Your bank can verify and validate a cashier’s check with the issuing bank or financial institution. Check ahead of time with the bank on proper procedure and be sure to perform the transaction with the buyer during business banking hours. The buyer will have to acquire this monetary instrument ahead of time, and this helps to make sure they are serious about the purchase and weeds out those who aren’t.

3. Disclose any major issues or accidents

Most states require by law that a seller of a vehicle discloses any past flooding or accidents to a vehicle that have occurred. Failure to present this information or have the buyer sign a document indicating acknowledgement of the details can reduce the chance of a future lawsuit. 

Withholding important information can be considered fraud. Always be a good seller and answer legitimate questions about the vehicle truthfully. You are not required to impart how much you paid for the vehicle. If you are turning a profit: congratulations.

Be honest about the vehicle and any damage it has received
Be honest about the vehicle and any damage it has received

4. Do not hand over the title until funds are received

If you are accepting some form of personal or business check, remember that a stop payment can be issued by the account holder. If this happens, not only will you have no RV and no title, but you’ll also have a returned check fee from your bank. 

Determine how the buyer plans to pay you, and if they indicate a personal check is their intention, inquire with your bank ahead of time to determine how best to proceed to ensure the funds are available. If the bank is local, offer to go to the buyer’s bank with them to convert the check into a cashier’s check, written out to your name. This will minimize any fraudulent or malicious behavior on the part of the buyer. If they are hesitant, do not go through with the deal.  

Letting the buyer know this ahead of time, before meeting, will help reduce any malicious intent as well as make sure they have allotted the correct amount of time.

5. Make sure the buyer signs the title and a bill of sale upon receipt

You may not know this, but if a buyer assumes possession of a vehicle and is later involved in an accident, they can claim that it isn’t their vehicle and that they are only borrowing it. With the buyer signing the current title in the appropriate transfer signature location, this proves that they did indeed take ownership. 

In addition, create a printed document (two copies) with the buyer’s legal name, your name as the seller, the make, model, and year of the vehicle or RV, the date of purchase, the mileage (if a drivable), and the sale amount.  You should both, as buyer and seller, sign each copy and keep one for your records.  After the buyer has signed the title, take a picture of the document (or have a copy made).

It is extremely important that you do not place yourself in a position of liability for deliberate, accidental, or negligent actions that happen with the vehicle once it leaves your control.  Once you have a copy of these documents, be sure to file them with the correct department for your county or state.  And don’t forget to correctly report the sale of the vehicle on your taxes according to IRS guidelines.

6. Use a reputable marketplace for the transaction

Using a by-owner online marketplace, such as National Vehicle, will help to reach and screen potential buyers, provide a fair valuation, and ensure a proper paper trail.  Some marketplaces will cross-promote your for-sale RV in other marketplaces, too.  It can also result in a higher sale price due to more buyers being reached.

Before you sell an RV privately, make sure you follow these tips and tricks.

One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and much more.

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Author Lucinda Belden Avatar

Lucinda Belden

Lucinda Belden is a travel writer and advisor.  She gets her inspiration from her and her husbands full-time RV lifestyle, her avid motorcycle/sidecar adventures, and world travels.  Lucinda is the Program Director for MyRVRadio.  Follow her stories and adventures at fb.com/DirectionWideOpen.

8 thoughts on “How To Protect Yourself When Selling An RV Privately

  1. Should I give a sign title to Richey auction Brothers they don’t even have a buyer yet they want me to sign the title over to them and send it to them in the mail without receiving any money it’s not even on their auction yet they plan on posting it and they sent me a form asking me my bank information showing me a check but they don’t even have a buyer yet would you sign your title and give send it in the mail to them signed without any money or a buyer yet? Thanks I need help

  2. For at least 15 years cashier’s checks are the most dangerous and least reliable way to receive payment for anything. You cannot buy a home and have a real estate closing at any Title Company with a cashier’s check at closing. Wire transfer is the only safe way to get paid or if they want to give you cash do not accept the cash yourself or even touch it but go to your bank and ask the head teller to verify the cash that it is not counterfeit. If you accept the cash and you make the deposit and it turns out to be counterfeit your bank will expect you to pay them back. This is why wire transfer is used on all commercial and residential real estate transactions. Another huge problem with cashier’s checks is that sometimes it takes a month before it is discovered it is a counterfeit and your RV is gone and you are personally financially liable for the counterfeit cashier’s check to your bank.

  3. Don’t forget to time date the bill of sale as well. That way when they wreck it on the trip home, there is proof ownership changed hands at a time of day.

  4. Good advice. In Louisiana, both parties have to sign the title in front of a notary. I learned this the hard way. The buyer has a bill of sale until they get the title.

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