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Old 11-04-2014, 05:49 AM   #1
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Washington , Washington, D.C.
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Used vs. New?


My wife and I are saving up to purchase an AS, and have been tottering between used versus new. We have a couple questions, and am hoping some folks in the community may be able to help us out. Here they go:

1. If we purchase a used airstream, do we have to pay sales tax? If so, does the seller collect the sales tax upon execution of the bill of sale, or do I pay when I register the airstream? This expense is between $2,000-3,000, and so want to understand so we can compare apples to apples.

2. I have heard differing things about valuing used airstreams. Generally, my assumption is that a new AS can be purchase for between 80-85% of MSRP. And, the value will depreciate 10% or so each year. Therefore, is the following formula for valuing a used AS correct? - Used AS Value = (Original MSRP) * (.825) * (.1 * Number of Years Off the Lot)

3. Any other thoughts on what to consider when buying used versus new are welcome. I know financing a bit trickier on used. Also, used may come with a hitch and other items.

Thanks for your help!


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Old 11-04-2014, 06:21 AM   #2
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Not sure about your state but in Texas you pay sales tax on used RV's when you apply for a title/registration. It is payable to the state/county at that time, not collected by the seller unless they are a dealer and handle the registration paperwork for you.

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Old 11-04-2014, 06:39 AM   #3
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If you buy vintage, and maintain it, the value goes up!

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Old 11-04-2014, 06:42 AM   #4
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And I wouldn't count on 10% depreciation per year, if well maintained.

20% off sticker, perhaps 10% off the first year, but it flattens out pretty quickly after that. Particularly with the recent price increases of new ones over the past few years.

"If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." - Red Green
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Old 11-04-2014, 06:54 AM   #5
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Welcome danandmimi. Glad there's another Mimi on the forums now.
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Old 11-04-2014, 07:09 AM   #6
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1. The amount of tax paid will vary from state to state. In NC they call it a Highway Use Tax, which is 3% of the price. If bought from a dealer it is paid at the time of purchase. If bought from an individual, it's paid when the title is registered.

2. My opinion about value/depreciation:
a. buying new - first year depreciation 10% to 15% depending on price paid.
b. used - years 2 to ~10 - 3% to 7% depending on condition/maintenance.
c. used - years ~11 to ~15 - 1% to 3% depending on condition/maintenance.
d. used - years ~15 and older 0% to 3% depending condition/maintenance.
e. any time an owner makes an "improvement" value changes, not necessarily increasing in value.
f. value decreases at a faster rate any time a trailer is damaged (a wreck, from weather damage, or lack of maintenance)

3. Buy new! Those of us that buy used depend on someone buying new. ;-)
2014 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 5.3L maximum trailering package (yes, I'm towing the 34')
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Old 11-04-2014, 07:27 AM   #7
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We have bought two new and one used Airstream. If you buy used from an individual, you will pay the applicable sales tax when you title and register the Airstream in your state. If you buy new or used in your home state, the sales tax will be collected by the dealer. If you buy from an out of state dealer, it's the same as buying from an individual. You pay the taxes when you register the Airstream at home.

As far as buying used vs. buying new, there are a number of considerations. there is usually no warranty on a used Airstream. A new unit has a two year warranty. New Airstreams are generally available at a price considerably below MSRP. As far as the price of used Airstreams go, they usually go for more than you would think.

In some cases, used can be a better deal in that the new trailer bugs have been worked out. Some accessories are often included unless the seller is buying another Airstream.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
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Old 11-04-2014, 07:32 AM   #8
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We've owned Airstream or Airstream products (Argosy) since the 70's (nine of them so far), and have never bought new. I don't think there is any accurate formula you can put on the depreciation of an Airstream. It depends mostly on condition, how it was used, and demand for that particular size trailer, i.e. a 25' or smaller will normally bring more of new price than say a 31 or 34', unless it's a slide out.

You just need to shop the market, and be prepared to do a little "negotiating". I can tell you that most of the trailers I've sold after buying usually a larger one, I got what I originally paid for them a few years earlier, or very close to it.

Also if you buy used, you will always find some things that need to be repaired or improved, so if you do not want to do these things, you're better off buying new.

Like A W said, we're depending on you guys.
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Old 11-04-2014, 08:00 AM   #9
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Be very sure of the model you want and need for the long term, learn all you can about maintaining it very well and plan to keep it forever, then buy it new with exactly the options you like and you will not regret it.

Bedrooms, galleys, dinettes, and baths are overemphasized in many models. It is the living room you will spend your time in, be sure it is spacious and very comfortable.
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Old 11-04-2014, 08:04 AM   #10
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I agree. There is nothing more fun than a brand new Airstream.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
WBCCI #3628 -- AIR #14872 -- TAC #FL-7
2015 FC 25' FB (Lucy) with HAHA
2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2018 Silverado 2500 (Lillian)
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Old 11-04-2014, 08:17 AM   #11
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Buying new wasn't an option for us. The biggest problem when you buy used is to find the trailer you want. We researched and decided that a 25FB was what we wanted. I did not want to get something that I would have to sell in the short term. We took more than a year looking and finally found one that fit the bill. It was a very long process.

If you can swing it, buying new would be the way to go. You can get exactly what you want with all the extras you would like to have and it would carry a warranty too!
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Old 11-04-2014, 09:07 AM   #12
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I think you should start your Airtsream adventure with pre-owned:

a.) You will decide if you enjoy the lifestyle. Every Spring here in Florida lots of units of all sizes/description go on consignment because the new owners just didn't enjoy RV'ing

b.) you will get an idea what size and style you might want. Lots of folks start with small and then, especially if they travel a lot, move up.

c.) you will know how well your tow vehicle performs.

d.) you will have a pretty good idea in short order of how everything works (or doesn't) and what you would change if you could.

Then, if you come down with severe Aluminitis (most of us here suffer from it), go buy yourself a shiny new unit built just the way you want it.

Why take a 10-15% depreciation hit on a new unit before you have answers to A through D above?

Just my 2 cents,

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Old 11-04-2014, 09:23 AM   #13
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I was going to buy new but lucked into a very lightly used model that fit our needs perfectly. It had all of the factory options I wanted, my wife loved the interior(Serenity), and we saved a big bundle of dollars with a one year old unit. I never would have spent the money for a new Serenity. No regrets here...lightly used models come into the market all of the time but you need to have feelers out.
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Old 11-04-2014, 09:27 AM   #14
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One good thing about buying used is that you likely won't have to worry about putting the first ding or scratch in it - something I always dread when buying new!

Somehow it just seems to go with the territory when buying used - and you don't worry so much about adding another!

As for holding value compared to other RV's I have read the comments and surely hope it turns out to be true when I come to sell!

That type of thing often seems to work for others, but not for me!


Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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