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Old 11-14-2023, 09:09 AM   #1
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Where is the Airstream market at? Outlook over the coming years and advice on buying

Hi all,

I was curious how the seasoned airstream vets on this forum felt about the outlook for airstreams over the next few years, particularly general thoughts on:

1. Is the market for airstreams going to continue to be strong?
2. Are resale values for newer model airstreams projected to hold?
3. Where is the resale market currently at and where's it heading post-Covid?

Also, and probably my most important question:

4. What year range of airstreams do you think offers the best value? Getting a 2020 which is essentially new at a discount, something from the early 00s, or something older that's been well maintained?

It's been about 15 years since I was first interested in purchasing an air stream, and I'm finally getting ready to pull the trigger, but I don't feel like I have a strong pulse on the new or resale market, so any and all advice is welcome!

We'll be practically using it for family travel with two young kids, and I'd prefer to stay in the 16-25 foot range if that's helpful info. Northern Canada so it'll be used a minimum of 3 seasons, dabbling into the 4th.
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Old 11-14-2023, 09:25 AM   #2
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Great questions! I'd be super interested in these responses also. Currently in a 41" Montana that is due in for a major repair and we are wanting to downsize to an Classic 33. As soon as the repairs are done, its gone. I want my Shiny Hiney!!
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Old 11-14-2023, 08:39 PM   #3
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That's like asking, "What color is the rainbow?" or, "What's the prettiest color of the rainbow?" The answer that holds up the best is, "In dollars, it's worth what someone is willing to pay for it. In terms of a life choice, it's worth whatever you are willing to give up to own it."
There are on-line valuation tools to provide dollar values for the types of trailers you described. For my retired wife and me, it was more about having a trouble free accommodation with some assurance of assistance when things broke, which is why we went nearly new for trailer #1 and then new for trailer #2. Others want the novelty of something vintage, or the challenge of restoring a piece of history.
We did not break even with trailer #1, even though we only had it for a year. Anyone who says an Airstream will sell for the same price is an exceptional negotiator, or has never been through the process.
The intrinsic value of an Airstream is that, with proper maintenance, it will still be serviceable when owners of other trailers are wishing they'd bought a timeshare (and we know what it's like to get rid of one of those!). The intangible value is in the experiences on the road, or for some people, on that special patch on their back forty (or back four tenths).
If you're looking for investment opportunities, look at the stock market or a CD. Otherwise, enjoy life in the way that best suits you!
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Old 11-14-2023, 09:36 PM   #4
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The market for travel trailers in general is closely tied to the economy since they are luxury purchases. In a tight economy, the market (both new and used) is tight and the prices will be less. Airstream trailers tend to be a little more stable with their pricing, having smaller peaks and valleys.

As far as predicting the future, you are really asking to predict the future of the economy in general and if you could do that, you'd be a very rich person.

As far as vintage or older trailers, the value totally depends on what someone is willing to pay and finding the right person. The number of re-sales is relatively small so pricing is hard to predict. Outside of some special, early vintage models, most older Airstreams have no "special" value like a Hemi 'Cuda or Split Window Corvette would in the car world.

Finally, having a trailer is not an appreciating asset and the focus shouldn't be on resale value. You need to focus on the value of having the trailer, the memories, and the family time spent. No Airstream is a "good investment" and will end up costing more in repairs, supplies, parts, etc... than expected.
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Old 11-14-2023, 10:38 PM   #5
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There are soooo many EV SUV’s and 1/2 tons coming online. I’m wondering if Airstream will identify and build a very aerodynamic trailer aimed specifically at the EV crowd.
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Old 11-14-2023, 10:52 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Replant View Post
Hi all,
Also, and probably my most important question:
4. What year range of airstreams do you think offers the best value? Getting a 2020 which is essentially new at a discount, something from the early 00s, or something older that's been well maintained?
.

I've bought 2 used Airstream, both coincidentally 15 years old at time of purchase. I've found that somewhere around 10-15 years old, used Airstreams will stop depreciating and start appreciating in value if well maintained. I had my first AS for 5 years and sold it for several thousand dollars more than what I originally paid. I could sell my current Safari for more than I paid if I were to sell. If you are patient, It is possible to find lightly used, 10 year old Airstreams in very good condition. Also coincidentally, I bought both of my Airstreams around Thanksgiving time on Craigslist.
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Old 11-15-2023, 06:54 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by stunami View Post
I've bought 2 used Airstream, both coincidentally 15 years old at time of purchase. I've found that somewhere around 10-15 years old, used Airstreams will stop depreciating and start appreciating in value if well maintained. I had my first AS for 5 years and sold it for several thousand dollars more than what I originally paid. I could sell my current Safari for more than I paid if I were to sell. If you are patient, It is possible to find lightly used, 10 year old Airstreams in very good condition. Also coincidentally, I bought both of my Airstreams around Thanksgiving time on Craigslist.
Agree.

And restoring an older model should be seen as a hobby…not a for-profit exercise…. unless you are in the business of taking-in someone’s dream retro-trailer and charging them for performing the work under contract.

Get a 15-year old Airstream in good condition for personal use. Keep it in good condition and enjoy camping in it, and ….. in another 15-20 years you’ll sell it for what you paid or a bit more….not counting inflation and the insurance premiums you bought to protect your “investment”.
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Old 11-15-2023, 07:36 AM   #8
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RE: Where is the Airstream market at? Outlook over the coming years and advice on bu

Not necessarily advise on purchasing, but a note about my ownership experience. I have owned the same Airstream travel trailer for 29 years. I had dreamed of owning an Airstream for years, and had decided to buy a new Airstream in 1995. When I went to my nearby dealer, I learned that the only floor plan that I would consider had been discontinued in a trailer of the size that I wanted left me looking at pre-owned. I looked for months at nearly every Airstream listed for sale within 500 miles of where I lived at the time, and kept expanding the age range of trailer that I would consider. Finally, when I was about to give up, I relented and made an appointment to look at a trailer that was a decade older than what I had been considering -- it was 31 years old. I was astounded when I first saw the trailer as it appeared so much newer, and that was just from the exterior, then the owner (only its second) invited me to spend as much time as I liked getting acquainted with its interior. What I learned is that like many older Airstreams, it had been owned by two owners who had been very proud of their Airstream and had been fastidious with their maintenance. I left that day after placing a sizable holding deposit and returned the next week to complete the deal and tow the trailer home.

What I learned was that a well-maintained Airstream can survive for many decades without huge difficulties related to structure. I did have to have some early stages of rear end separation repaired that were a result of the second owner's rear bumper mounted spare tire carrier -- after his ownership tenure of about 15 years, there was some early rear end separation that my nearby Airstream dealer solved with the factory suggested repair method, and it still is solid today over 28 years later. When I look at what I have spent on new upholstery, foam for the cushions, new drapes, floor coverings, and a few new appliances including a refrigerator, furnace, water heater, and professional polishing and Plasticoating as well as the original purchase price of the trailer; I could likely sell the trailer in today's market for very nearly what I have spent on the trailer in 29 years. I didn't purchase the trailer as an investment, and I wouldn't consider selling it as it has become a member of the family; but what it has done has provide me with my own personal motel room that can follow my full size car wherever I wish to travel in North America.

The story with my Argosy is much the same, only I have owned it for 21 years and purchased it from its first owner.

Kevin
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Old 11-15-2023, 08:09 AM   #9
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I recall back in the late 90s when I picked up a new Airstream and the dealer told me Airstreams are investments. I found that to be a fairly funny thing to say about a depreciating asset at the time.

What I quickly realized, or actually not all the quickly is that after about 10 years of ownership and price increases every year for the new Airstream models, that the once new units actually tended to keep their values (even pre and post COVID). COVID times were crazy where prices were just incredible due to low supply and high demand.

If you take a look at RV trader or the classifieds here, I think that could better answer the question on value. Clearly an Airstream that sold new for $30k in 1998 is still fetching around $20-$25k, while a newer unit of similar size, just a few years old that sold for maybe $105k is about $90k this time of year. Do they get that? I don't know, but the numbers are in the ballpark and somewhat consistent. Is it a model that you can rely on in the future? I would have thought no back in 2008 when the same model that sold for $35k new was then in 2008 $80k. But here we are in 2023, the average price of an Airstream is $100k and they can't build them fast enough, so much so that that built a factory for the trailer line that is nearly 3x the size of the old one. Seasoned companies don't spend hundreds of millions of dollars on plants like this if they think it would not generate significant long term profits, but companies are not infallible.

I will also note that I have also looked at the some of the other midrange brand models and some of the higher end of the midrange brands (Jayco, Forest River, etc), and though those too have commanded a higher selling price new than before, I have found that the depreciation hit has not been as kind to these SOBs as it has to Airstreams or higher end RVs market.

The bottom line, at least for me is that if you like RVing and it's your thing, just do it. You can't take the money with you. The money thing will work itself out or not. I can't tell you how many family memories I had growing up in an RV family and how many we've built with my own family in our Airstreams. The fact that I was able to sell my late 90s unit for about $7k less than I paid for it 20 some odd years later was never a thought that I actually had as I reserved myself that I'd loose my shirt on it as it aged. To me, the fact that it didn't was simply gravy to me.

Having said all this, the best value is finding a gently used unit. You'll save at least $15k out of the gate, but if you have to go new, I don't think anyone here can read the crystal ball on what the future may bring, so again, just do what feels right. You'll know your trailer or MH when you see it, buy it and go make some memories!
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Old 11-15-2023, 01:01 PM   #10
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I can only speak to the market at the beginning of 2023 when we were shopping. I was looking for used since the local dealer wasn't discounting (based on the Covid demand from earlier years). We didn't consider anything older than a 2021 since that's when they started installing the composite (waterproof) floor. I don't know that we have much rot in Minnesota but seemed nice to have and still had a warranty. We eventually settled on searching for a 25' twin. We liked the twin arrangement and the panoramic front and rear windows. I looked primarily through Airstream Marketplace which seemed to have the greatest selection of for sale by owner.

In the end though we bought new. I found a deal from a dealer in Michigan on a 2023 Globetrotter 25FBT (our dream camper) for about the same price what people wanted for used 2021s. It was listed for $132k and we got it for $112k. I believe that is the current trend since there is now a lot of stock and from what I read here in the AS forums discounts of 20% or so aren't unusual. The used market might have adjusted but at the time people had paid full price and were expecting something close to that.
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Old 11-15-2023, 04:29 PM   #11
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It seems as though the market is softening a bit as I got this email from Airstream Inc. today.
https://by-t04.na1.hubspotlinks.com/...MCnt7f2_kltb04
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Old 11-16-2023, 08:06 PM   #12
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Some good insights, thanks @stunami particularly.

To be clear, this is not an investment decision, but we have a young family and this is definitely an above-average luxury purchase, I'm simply looking for the best way of balancing newness and features with risk/depreciation.

This is my dream that my wife is sort of tolerating, sort of rolling her eyes over.

The comment about 10-15 year old trailers starting to equalize in terms of depreciation/appreciation is super helpful.
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Old 11-16-2023, 10:04 PM   #13
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We bought vintage the first time. 1971 in 2013. Family of 4. We found a unit that needed a light restoration and made money when we were done 9 years later.

Now we have new and I really like not having to work on it as much and the composite floors.

I would set my budget. Decide on floor plans and then shop picky.

Happy Hinting.
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Old 11-17-2023, 01:09 PM   #14
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If someone could "guarantee" the answer to this question, we would be all ears! Reality is all of the above answers...we broke even on our first 2006' 25' Safari at $36K in 2009 after owning it for 2 years. We bought a 2007 Casita 17' in 2010 and sold it in 2012 and made$1000. Our 2008' 25' AS FC bought in 2012 and we sold in 2014 and made $3K after owning for 2 years. Our "new" 2014 25' ASFC we paid $55K for and sold it for $58K after 4 years. Our 2018 28' ASFCT, we paid $77K for and it is now going for around $84K! We are not selling...but tempted!
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Old 11-17-2023, 08:54 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stunami View Post
I've bought 2 used Airstream, both coincidentally 15 years old at time of purchase. I've found that somewhere around 10-15 years old, used Airstreams will stop depreciating and start appreciating in value if well maintained. I had my first AS for 5 years and sold it for several thousand dollars more than what I originally paid. I could sell my current Safari for more than I paid if I were to sell. If you are patient, It is possible to find lightly used, 10 year old Airstreams in very good condition. Also coincidentally, I bought both of my Airstreams around Thanksgiving time on Craigslist.
Agree on age w 1 caveat, being mechanically inclined and enjoying maintenance upkeep which I do. Mine is 1 yr earlier than yours, paid slightly more than original owner and w all the work Iíve done could prob sell for more than I paid
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Old 11-17-2023, 10:30 PM   #16
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we bought a 2022 International 25FBT with the Microwave, Solar and Bunk used for 72k from Camping World in OKC. It was recently reduced from 90K. I believe new would be well over 100K. The manager said after the deal was done they were discounting aging inventory aggressively because the market was significantly softening. Our new to us Airstream is not perfect, but its still very nice and has about a year left on the transferable warranty. very happy with the purchase but at 8% interest rates I tend to think deals can be had for those that know what they want and are patient.
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Old 11-17-2023, 11:00 PM   #17
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Great time to buy, particularly if you can pay cash and avoid current interest rates. Terrible time to sell, and many that are trying to sell now don’t seem to be willing to accept that reality. 20% off a new Airstream is not uncommon, and if you’re selling a used Airstream, you need to dial that into the asking price equation if you expect to sell it. I’ve been looking to buy for the last 16 months or so, and see used Airstreams that are a few years old priced higher than what you can get a discounted new one for.
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Old 11-18-2023, 09:41 AM   #18
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we bought a 2022 International 25FBT with the Microwave, Solar and Bunk used for 72k from Camping World in OKC. It was recently reduced from 90K. I believe new would be well over 100K. The manager said after the deal was done they were discounting aging inventory aggressively because the market was significantly softening. Our new to us Airstream is not perfect, but its still very nice and has about a year left on the transferable warranty. very happy with the purchase but at 8% interest rates I tend to think deals can be had for those that know what they want and are patient.
That sounds like you got a great deal on your 25! Welcome to the Forum! Your right about interest rates; terrible time to finance anything, including vehicle, TT, and even new homes!
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Old 11-18-2023, 02:27 PM   #19
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That sounds like you got a great deal on your 25! Welcome to the Forum! Your right about interest rates; terrible time to finance anything, including vehicle, TT, and even new homes!
Thank you. We are excited about it. We really like the new 23 twin floor plan. Casually looking, we saw this deal pop up. Negotiated over text and photos and agreed on a fair trade for our camper which sealed the deal. OKC was about a 5 hour drive but we did it sight unseen.

The upgrades on this trailer are just right for us and while not perfect, itís still very nice and had about a year left on the manufacturer warranty.

The interest rate was 8% which is def high! we took the note at the dealer to help get the deal we wanted.

Now contemplating whether to use up cash or even take a 401k loan to pay off the note. I like the idea of paying ourselves the interest and keeping cash on hand but I am sure there are differing opinions on that.

My opinion is being patient as a buyer will be the way to go. We just found deal we couldnít pass up. But I suspect there will be a lot more in the months to come.

The one thing I didnít plan for being so expensive was insurance. My agent quoted $3,000 annually. We ended up getting it via goodsams/foremost for about half that but still about 3x more than our campers in the past. I guess that makes sense since itís at least 3x more valuable . By the time I figured that out we already had our heart set on getting it done or I may have tried for an older model that was fixed up
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Old 11-18-2023, 02:42 PM   #20
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Now contemplating whether to use up cash or even take a 401k loan to pay off the note. I like the idea of paying ourselves the interest and keeping cash on hand but I am sure there are differing opinions on that.

My opinion is being patient as a buyer will be the way to go. We just found deal we couldnít pass up. But I suspect there will be a lot more in the months to come.

The one thing I didnít plan for being so expensive was insurance. My agent quoted $3,000 annually. We ended up getting it via goodsams/foremost for about half that but still about 3x more than our campers in the past. I guess that makes sense since itís at least 3x more valuable . By the time I figured that out we already had our heart set on getting it done or I may have tried for an older model that was fixed up
I agree it was a great deal, congratulations! We rationalized our way into our new camper and I think with Airstreams there's always some pain justifying the expense (Airstream haters will remind you of this). As a data point, our insurance is $1,800/yr with Progressive, so pretty similar. I'm not a fan of using 401K for this, AFAIK unless you're retirement age then there's a penalty + taxes, and yes you're paying yourself interest, but you're paying it instead of someone else. In time the pain eases or you just get used to it. I also think interest rates will come down so refinancing is an option.
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