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Old 12-18-2011, 02:30 AM   #1
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"Make an offer", but how much is appropriate?

Hi all,

I'm a newcomer to Airstream trailers and looking to make my first purchase. I finally found a '72 Sovereign in my neighbourhood, but the seller is requesting offers and politely informs in his post that lowball offers will be ignored. My problem? I've no idea what an appropriate price would be for an Airstream of this model that the seller claims is:
  • in excellent condition
  • has original interior

Sorry for the vagueness of the question, but even a rough price range would be helpful for me at this point.

Thanks!

- Rob
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:12 AM   #2
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Check out this Price vs Condition website...it should give you an idea of what to offer based on the real condition.

Most trailers fall somewhere in the "As Found" to "Average" range - so a rough range would be $1800 - $8500 - but there are usually lots of unrestored 70's Sovereigns readily available in the $2500 - $5000 range. Check the classifieds section here (tab above) & Craig's List for other trailers available for comparison.

Keep in mind, 72's & earlier don't have grey tanks (unless they were retrofit)...which is no big deal, but one year later, '73 they do.

Good luck!

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Old 12-18-2011, 06:52 AM   #3
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He who mentions price first loses. The seller is trying to completely control the neogations I would pull the Pawn Stars trick and either low ball the heck out of him or poor mouth the unit until he was scared to keep it, you know the yes but game. He is playing guess the secret number and no matter what you offer he will want to go up. He should already know what it is worth if he dosen't he may have set an unrealistic value on the trailer. InsideOut already gave you your first volley, I like the trailer but it has no grey water tank, and if it is a retro fit question the quality of the work. What goes around comes around. You have to go low to draw him out, a negoation is a dialog between two parties and a sale (Contract) is the meeting of the minds. I am sure others here will give you some more free advice.

I will add:
If you do make an offer put a time limit 24 hrs or an hour it doesn't matter, when you make an offer on a house it is not open ended he has no right to tie you up while he waits for a better offer also subject the offer to inspections, or financing try to build in a safety valve to back out if you find undisclosed issues.

BTW I think a grey water tank is a big issue. You never have enough tank capacity. I had a 68 Globetrotter and I didn't like the way it worked or that my shower and sinks were contacted to the waste tank. But that is just me.


Sounds like he thinks he has gold not silver.

Best of luck Jim
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:12 AM   #4
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If the seller wants offers, suggest that he list it on ebay. I have dealt with folks like this and there is a pretty good chance his price is higher than its worth or that you want to pay.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:53 AM   #5
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The expensive things on trailers of this (or any, for that matter) age are the following:
  • Floors (a lot of them rot, threatening the structural integrity of the trailer) and, just that work alone will definitely run into the thousands, even if you do the repairs yourself.
  • Appliances don't improve with age: fridge, furnace, water heater, stove/oven. A complete set is about $3,000 plus installation.

You can save a lot if you do that work yourself, but while it isn't "rocket surgery" to do it, it does require a significant investment of both time and money.

So, all that to say, you are probably best to get a throough inspection done by someone that knows Airstreams. On the portal page (link on the top left corner of a lot of pages here) you will see a section where you can find one of the Airforums members who has listed themselves as an inspector. It's on the right side about half way down.

I heartily suggest you try to get one that is local to the trailer you are looking at and see if the two of you can work out the details of having an inspection done.

We are here to help you, so don't hesitate to keep asking questions about things you don't understand, but an "eyes on" inspection by someone that knows them is priceless.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:07 AM   #6
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"In excellent condition" and "All original" are mutually exclusive terms. Either it's one or the other. All original will have a 40 year old fridge, furnace, and air conditioner that will have to be replaced. "All original" tambors will fall apart the second time you try to use them. "All original" window and door gaskets will be cracked and leaking from their age. An "all original" toilet will leak like a sieve, as will most of the faucets and other plumbing items. "All original" awning fabric will disintegrate when you try to unfurl the awning, IF the mechanism still works. "All original" axles will almost certainly need replacing.
Ask the seller to demonstrate all these items. If he can't or won't, that usually means there is a problem he knows about, and doesn't want you to find out until he has your money in his hands.
I don't know how many ads I see for "All original, perfect condition, only needs a few thousand dollars of repairs" for almost as much as a new trailer.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:11 AM   #7
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When faced with paying for something you want, I always adhere to one thing and do one thing: Offer what it is worth TO YOU and walk if the price is highter. Overpaying doesn't make sense and there's other fish in the sea.

If you really like the trailer, write your phone number on a scrap of paper and give it to the seller. Tell him to call if he changes his mind...then leave (and stick to your written price).

(I'm new to trailers, but I'd want all the holding tanks possible)
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:25 AM   #8
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Rob send me a private message with a contact number and I would be willing to inspect the trailer with you. I did an inspection this past summer on a unit that the seller was claiming to be in excellent condition. It had been polished and looked good in the pictures. When I arrived to look at it, well it was anything but excellent. From rotting floors to non functional appliances to bad axles with worn out tires, body damage and a "original interior" that would require total replacement due to abuse it was nowhere near the asking price. If I was interested in purchasing that unit I would have pffered 1/4 of the asking price. The person looking to purchase it wisely decided to pass on it.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:52 AM   #9
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In addition to the above bad axles and rear end separation are common.
Have a largish person stand on the bumper and bounce up and down. Movement between the bumper and coach body should be nil.

The fender well should be at the same height or higher than the wheel rim. A better test is jack up one side of the trailer, not on the axle but the plate that the axle is mounted to. You should be able to jack up the trailer body at least 2 inches (more is better) before the wheel starts to come off the ground.

Take an ice pick and look for soft flooring: next to the door, in the front under the window, under each window and especially in the rear and around the toilet. Open the outside compartments and look for soft spots in the plywood, especially the rear compartment.

All these and other problems in other posts can be fixed, but for me the deal killer would be rear end separation. I would not pay more than $1000 for a trailer with rear end separation and that only if everything else looked really good.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robmed View Post

the seller claims is:
  • in excellent condition
  • has original interior
the first issue you'll have is determining what YOU think is the trailer's condition. we've seen many trailers for sale in "excellent" condition that were "fair to poor, at best" in my own humble opinion.


Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut View Post

Most trailers fall somewhere in the "As Found" to "Average" range - so a rough range would be $1800 - $8500 -
Shari
fwiw, my own, perhaps conservative, views on condition also run to when I've been the seller, too.

we sold a 1982 Excella II in Feb 2010 to a fellow from Ontario. we had owned it for only 15 months, and it was in good, original condition with reasonable signs of use and wear. we had bought it for $5,900 and sold it for $6,400. my observation of the market is that if I were selling today, I'd ask about $6,800 to 7,000 for that unit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kosm1o View Post

If the seller wants offers, suggest that he list it on ebay. I have dealt with folks like this and there is a pretty good chance his price is higher than its worth or that you want to pay.
my own personal opinion is that Sellers do better on eBay than buyers, because there's more buyers who are less familiar with how to examine a used unit.

as an example, in the late winter of 2009, we looked at a 22' 1959 Caravanner that we really wanted to buy and restore. the seller was asking $4,000 and we were thinking $3,000.

having gone to the 2009 4CU Vintage Restoration Rally that year ( which we highly recommend to anyone considering a renovation or restoration! ) and when we went back to look again in June with a new set of eyes, the best offer I could have mustered would have been about $2,000. rather than possibly insult the seller, who was a truly interesting and affable character, we simply declined saying it was more than we could spend, and he didn't ask for an offer.

the Seller offered the Caravanner on eBay about a year later and sold it, iirc, for about $4,700.. then there was a problem that the Seller didn't have a Title (another important matter to ask any Seller specifically about.)

the Caravanner went back up again on eBay a few weeks later and sold a second time for about $4,800.. I could not imagine paying that much, but apparently someone did! (and I sincerely hope that they're happy with it!)

I had had some correspondence with one of the eBay bidders on the 1st round of bidding, sharing our observations of the trailer's actual condition. she later thanked us for saving her marriage!

good luck with your hunt!
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:58 AM   #11
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Do your homework. Look at other trailers, inspect the subject vehicle and, if interested, make an offer at the low end of what you think is reasonable.
If the sellers response is nonexistent or unrealistic, walk away. There are lots of Airstreams in the world. One of the fun things about the AS bug is looking for a suitable one.
The seller has a very old trailer for sale, not a pearl of great price.
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Old 12-18-2011, 09:35 AM   #12
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"Make an offer", but how much is appropriate?

Ask the seller.
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:14 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
"In excellent condition" and "All original" are mutually exclusive terms. Either it's one or the other.

<snip>

I don't know how many ads I see for "All original, perfect condition, only needs a few thousand dollars of repairs" for almost as much as a new trailer.
Good point Terry...

Quote:
Originally Posted by robmed View Post
I'm a newcomer to Airstream trailers and looking to make my first purchase.
<snip> the seller claims is:
  • in excellent condition
  • has original interior
Quote:
Originally Posted by wasagachris View Post
Rob send me a private message with a contact number and I would be willing to inspect the trailer with you.
One of my favorite seller-lines I see in eBay ads and classifieds listings is "everything worked last time we used it". Think about that a second. Duh...if it didn't "work" they couldn't have "used it". "When was the last time it was used?" would be the next (obvious?) question...1976? Make sure the seller demonstrates that everything works...if you get to that point in your inspection/discussions.

Here's a good checklist to use as a tool when you go look at it.

Shari
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:48 PM   #14
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Tell the owner you would like a price he/she has in mind. If they won't tell you anything, walk away and tell them why. They obviously have a price in mind they are willing to sell it for, and should tell you that. That price will tell you a starting point. If it is silly high, walk away. Do your research, and have a value in mind for the size and year and condition of trailers like the one you are looking at.

If they insist on "make me an offer" offer $1000. When they sputter, say sweetly, "well I asked you what you had in mind", and walk away.

The game of finding a rube who does not know the value of what they are buying is silly for the owner, and stupid for the buyer. The seller is fishing, hoping for a dumb buyer who will circle the hook and take the bait.
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:36 PM   #15
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Works for me when buying

My Dad taught me that you can't buy anything until a price has been set by the seller. I never price anyone's stuff and only make an offer, set price, CASH "once", either they take it or I will find another.

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Old 01-23-2012, 01:32 PM   #16
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I am with Levon on that!
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Old 01-23-2012, 01:37 PM   #17
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I actually saw the listing for the trailer that the OP was talking about. it was pretty rough and not one I would consider offering any amount on first.
The seller was probably one of those guys who watched American Pickers and figured he had a "Gold Mine" in that old piece of aluminum he had stashed in the back yard for decades.
Just from the looks of the pics I wouldn't have offered more that $1500 for it and the seller probably was looking for $10K
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Levon View Post
My Dad taught me that you can't buy anything until a price has been set by the seller. I never price anyone's stuff and only make an offer, set price, CASH "once", either they take it or I will find another.
This is great advice for me as I'm fairly awful at haggling. I'm not opposed to getting some expert advice before making an offer since I know so little about Airstreams, but the take-it-or-leave-it offer is a strategy I will probably adopt if only to cut down on endless back and forth e-mails.
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Old 01-26-2012, 12:41 PM   #19
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I actually saw the listing for the trailer that the OP was talking about. it was pretty rough and not one I would consider offering any amount on first.
The seller was probably one of those guys who watched American Pickers and figured he had a "Gold Mine" in that old piece of aluminum he had stashed in the back yard for decades.
Just from the looks of the pics I wouldn't have offered more that $1500 for it and the seller probably was looking for $10K
The big lesson for me (the OP) is that you shouldn't rely on the seller's word and/or photographs in a classified listing, especially if you are an inexperienced buyer like myself. I mean, based on the photos and description given by the seller I would have vastly overpaid and repented at leisure.

By the way, thanks for straightening me out, wasagachris.

Cheers,

Rob
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Old 01-26-2012, 03:12 PM   #20
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Negotiating strategy is always to get the other guy to say a price first. That tells you where the negotiations are likely to go. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, but the seller who won't disclose a price probably turns off too many people and loses sales because of that. A seller than won't disclose a price may not be screwing around, and if he is, so what? Just low ball him. Show him what like trailers are selling for if you can get that information, or what people on the Forum say it is worth.

When he says he will ignore low ball offers, however, then he is trying too hard to get a price higher than it is worth—or he thinks he is smarter than everyone else—or he's dumb.

And many people think whatever they are selling is worth more than it is. This is simply human nature. Sometimes they ask a lot to test the market. Nothing wrong with that because there are people who pay list price for cars, or fall in love with your house, come with a trunk full of cash and offer more than you are asking. I am looking for that guy with the trunk full of cash because I want to sell him my house; send him to me please.

I know a lot of people are conflict adverse, but look at it as a simple business deal. If the other guy gets emotional it is his problem. Maybe he's trying to manipulate you or is too attached to the trailer. Check offering prices of used Airstreams on the classified and anywhere else you can find them on the internet; knowledge makes you more confident.

To find the right trailer can take time. It is worth it because it will be with you for quite a while. Make sure you are willing, able and have the money to fix it because it is very likely it will need a lot of fixing. Get help from inspectors like Chris—he knows a lot about Airstreams.

Good luck. There will be other trailers. Some may be further away. One close to home gets seductive, but the hassle of going many miles may be worth it.

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