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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 LTZ 1500 Crew Cab 5.3L maximum trailering package
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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
WBCCI #3628 -- AIR #14872 -- TAC #FL-7
2015 FC 25' FB (Lucy) with HAHA
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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.
Doug and Cheryl
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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
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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,

Sorta new (usually dirty) Nissan Titan XD (hardly paid for)
Middle-aged Safari SE
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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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Old 11-04-2014, 09:48 AM   #15
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Hi from AZ. . . I've bought 2 used ASs, because I did not feel that I could afford new. The FC 28 I have is over $85k new these days & that's simply over my budget. mine was 2 1/2 years old, just out of warranty, and the PO had been wonderfully anal about having EVERYTHING fixed/adjusted ! I paid about half that..(the MSRP was about $70k) . .The previous AS was a 5 year old very well equipped Safari 25 (solar,etc) but not very well taken care of. It was consigned at a dealer & I paid less than half of it's original sticker. After a lot of time cleaning, new mattresses, sofa, curtains,& batteries it served us well for 30k miles over next 3 years. I was concerned that AS was pricing themselves out of the market, but half of the 8 ASs at my storage unit are new, so obviously (as usual) I don't know squat. This, my friends, & $4 will get you a coffee at Fourbucks ! ! Regards, Craig
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Old 11-04-2014, 10:07 AM   #16
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We bought a gently used, two year old Flying Cloud and could not be happier with the purchase. I purchase almost all high-dollar items used and tend to keep them for a long time...
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Old 11-04-2014, 10:18 AM   #17
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I bought used because I can't afford a new Airstream. I transitioned from a Casita 17' all fiberglass trailer to Airstream. I did a lot of research on this forum trying to learn all the pros and cons of Airstreams and what to look for in a used unit. The main issue with preowned is subfloor rot due to water intrusion.

You need to determine the size and floorplan and determine if your tow vehicle can handle the trailer. We started looking at 20, 23 and ended up with a 25fb. We also upgraded to a larger tow vehicle when we decided the 25ft models were what we wanted. You might decide a floor plan which is only available if you buy used, e.g. 25SS but then you have the problem of trying to find one that is well maintained unless you have the time and motivation to travel around the country.

Start looking at Airstreams on the closest dealers lots and see which floorplan is comfortable. Maybe a trip to Colonial Airstream in NJ would be worthwhile since they have a large inventory.

I purchased my preowned from a dealer and they threw in the Equalizer hitch with the deal.

Don't forget to research where to store your Airstream and the costs involved. I prefer a covered storage since an Airstream can't tolerate hail. Anything over pea size and I get worried.

The biggest selling point of the 2015 models from 25 and above is the ducted AC which is supposed to cool the trailer more evenly and is also much quieter but the 2015 prices have gone up dramatically.

Getting a preowned Airstream repaired maybe more difficult to get done because a lot of rv repair shops are not experienced with Airstreams. Having an Airstream is like owning an exotic car in that way. Use the the AS forums inspectors to help you check a preowned unit out.

Good luck and keep asking questions.

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Old 11-04-2014, 10:39 AM   #18
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Unless you have experience trailering or money is not an item I suggest you buy used.

I say this because it is highly unlikely you will buy what you find you really want on the first shot. New purchases tend to be driven by the eye, that's why they put the Champagne glasses on the dinette in the demo. You will end up using the physical appointments of the trailer far more often than drinking Champagne so buy used and find out what you really need at a reduced price.
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Old 11-04-2014, 12:11 PM   #19
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if you find an AS with the layout and options you want used and in the condition you is very likely worth it....

We looked for a used bunkhouse for a while and they were darn near impossible to find and if one became available the logistics of going to look at it for us would be been near we splurged and bought new, 1 year in and are very happy, but I would buy used no problem....

We never got that far, but hopefully the financing on the lightly used model would prove as easy to procure and be a good rate...

My experience was approximately 17-18% off MSRP for a special order, and I was surprised that I could not get ones off the lot for 20-25%...the bunkhouse model apparently is incredibly popular or something as there was nearly no difference in price negotiations between the special order or one on the lot new for a few months...they would move either one no matter what it seemed.
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Old 11-04-2014, 12:58 PM   #20
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Red Green - How Handy Are You?

Are you handy with tools? Do you do your own car maintenance and that sort of thing? If so, I'd go used. Like others have said, you can learn the ropes with what you think is the one you wanted and get it at a reduced price. If you made the right call on Day One, then awesome! But if after using it awhile you decide you should have gotten a different one, you can probably sell the one you have and not lose too much on it.

The older you go, to a point, the cheaper. But once you hit about 15 years old, maybe 20, then you start looking at axle replacement.

Airstreams are a lot like Corvettes or Harleys....they tend do depreciate to a point but then flatline or maybe even start going back up again. With the typical stick framed box trailer, they just keep going down until they're essentially worthless.

On the flip side, if you've never swung a wrench in your life, don't like tinkering with things, and would rather drop it off for service, I'd say go new.

Mine was 19 years old when I got it. I've had it for 8 years now and it's been a blast. I'm fairly handy though, and have replaced about everything you could think of on it. The shells last forever. Frames aren't that hard to fix. Systems you just update and replace. I've customized mine to the way I want it, and I still have a small fraction in it vs. the cost of a new one. I am 20 years from retirement, so don't have the time off to justify $110K for a new 34 footer (what they were going for a few years back). But I've got new 15k btu a/c, new fridge, new ceramic toilet, new faucets, new water heater, upgraded panel to 50amp and rewired, converted rear twins to rear king, custom bunkbed/couch combo up front to replace the gaucho, 32" flatscreen with 400w surround sound (isn't "camping" tough ha ha!), new LED lights all around, new tires, shocks, seals, sanded and repainted frame.... I didn't do it all at once. I'd replace something when it was about worn out. I've probably got $17K in it total and I would put it nearly the equal of a new one. We're quite happy with it.

That being said, those new ones sure do look nice!

Best of luck whichever way you go. Hope to see you on the road!
- Jim
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