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Old 01-23-2021, 03:12 PM   #1
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Addison , Illinois
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How to buy used airstream

Hello,
I’m nearing the decision to buy a used airstream but I have no clue as to the ‘right’ price to pay for one. Are there professional appraisers whose services can be hired so I don’t end up buying a ‘lemon?’ With prospective sellers in RVTrader website spanning the entire country, how can I even find an appraiser in the right location? Thanks in advance!
Airstream Aspirant
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Old 01-23-2021, 06:09 PM   #2
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This site has inspectors by location on the right side of the homepage or NRVIA.org also has inspectors by location.
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Old 01-23-2021, 06:42 PM   #3
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The "right" price will always be the price you are comfortable paying. When I purchased mine used I had spent a lot of time looking online for the one we were interested in. Looking at new, then at the used market we got a feel for what they were "going for". We were pleased with our purchase.



Others might say we paid too much, some say it was a great deal but all that matters is what you think..in the end.
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:12 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by DoubleR View Post
This site has inspectors by location on the right side of the homepage or NRVIA.org also has inspectors by location.
Thank you for the info ... much appreciated!
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:19 AM   #5
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If you're not in a hurry you can watch the add prices and see which ones sell fast to give you an idea of market prices. When you call someone and it is sold, you can ask what they sold it for; most will tell you. The NADA has resale and wholesale prices listed but many claim they are not accurate. I found them to be quite close. There are pricing services that will sell you more accurate current pricing information but it is hard to know if which of those services are "good" and which ones just take your $100 and give you vanilla info you could have found on your own. Good luck!
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Old 01-24-2021, 09:31 AM   #6
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I’ve been looking for more than a year. It really isn’t easy. It always seems like anything I might be interested in is halfway across the country. The number one hint that I would give you is to figure out exactly what you want, meaning what things you won’t compromise on. That way you won’t waste time looking at things that aren’t going to work. The other thing that is really important is condition. You want to avoid “lipstick on a pig”. I saw one that was beautiful the other day, gorgeously restored/renovated...except it when I read the listing, down at the bottom it said the gray tank leaked. Then when I really looked, it was obvious that they had done nothing to address frame issues or any other structural things. They just made it look pretty. One other thing I might point out, is that the pandemic seems to have driven prices through the roof. I’m actually thinking about getting out of the game for a while, and waiting for things to settle down.
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Old 01-24-2021, 10:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by sterlinghick View Post
I’ve been looking for more than a year. It really isn’t easy. It always seems like anything I might be interested in is halfway across the country. The number one hint that I would give you is to figure out exactly what you want, meaning what things you won’t compromise on. That way you won’t waste time looking at things that aren’t going to work. The other thing that is really important is condition. You want to avoid “lipstick on a pig”. I saw one that was beautiful the other day, gorgeously restored/renovated...except it when I read the listing, down at the bottom it said the gray tank leaked. Then when I really looked, it was obvious that they had done nothing to address frame issues or any other structural things. They just made it look pretty. One other thing I might point out, is that the pandemic seems to have driven prices through the roof. I’m actually thinking about getting out of the game for a while, and waiting for things to settle down.
Thanks, Sterlinghick! I’ve narrowed down what I want to the trim and length level. It all depends on the model year and price level now but wanted to make sure there are no underlying issues unknown to a first time buyer like me.

I agree on the pandemic born price frenzy ... I’ve heard rumors that pricing might come down once those panic buyers last year realize their impulsiveness and decide to unload en masse. Let’s hope so.
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Old 01-24-2021, 10:41 AM   #8
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Buying Used

Roberta and I decided it wasn’t so much about the cost as it was the VALUE when we went shopping for a used Airstream. Knowing we were heading out for two years of cruising, a couple things jumped out: will our “new” used trailer have RELIABLE miles left in it and how might we gage that reliability.

Since it wasn’t the cost per se, rather the “value,” we made the decision to go with a one- or two-year-old unit. We’d already settled on the “practical” model, a Flying Cloud, and wanted 28 feet if we could get it, maybe the 30, RB in either case. (We know of too many back-in sites, and did not want traffic near our pillows, nor did we want guests walking the length of our awning to get to the “front” door.)

As we planned to drive the country anyway, it wasn’t so important WHERE we might find our buy. Roberta spent quite a bit of time working dealerships and private owners, one coast to the other. Our eventual buy was not so far away (next door in Arizona), but proximity had nothing to do with final decision. We were ready for a run to Florida or South Carolina (where a factory-new unit, one year on the lot, was beckoning).

We were convinced we did not want NEW. “Let the first owner find the loose screws.” (We’ve found PLENTY of loose screws in our one-year-old, so not so sure about that advice any more. We got it with a transferable extended warranty, so our complaint is not about the repair cost, just the fact that so much serious stuff has gone on the blink . . . refer, furnace, thermostat, water pump . . . come on guys, all this in a one-year-old?!)

Leaving Payson, Arizona, where we acquired our unit, we NEWBIES faced 28 miles of 6+% downgrade, and that between two winter storms. We were in Scottsdale before we knew it, parked on the property of friends, and excited about the adventures to come.
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Old 01-24-2021, 11:55 AM   #9
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Check out AirstreamClassified to give you an ideal of what similar units are selling for. Price is not as important as finding the AS will suit your purposes. Once you settle on a unit and buy it, you are in for some great adventures. Enjoy!!
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Old 01-24-2021, 12:11 PM   #10
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Baby boomers, too

While the pandemic affected the market, the travel trailer business was already heated up before the pandemic due to retiring baby boomers entering the market for an RV. That trend will continue for a while. Today’s 65-year-olds were born in 1955, the middle year of what is generally considered to be the post-WWII baby-boom generation (1946-1964).
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Old 01-24-2021, 12:12 PM   #11
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I am with aftermath. Don't treat this as a typical vehicle purchase and contest with the seller. This is very much a seller's market now so you need to find the trailer that is right for you, one that has had factory problems repaired and only minor issues for you to deal with. With luck, you may happen upon more than one and you can compare prices. You can find the new price and do you own depreciation calculation. I would not expect to find a bargain. Just be ready to ante up.
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Old 01-24-2021, 01:01 PM   #12
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I've bought two trailers using the classifieds on this website. Both times I had enough confidence to travel significant miles to pick the units up. In 2007 I drove to Albuquerque from eastern Virginia to pick up my 98 31' Limited. In 2016 I travelled to eastern Texas to pick up my current rig, a 2012 30' International.

I have more confidence talking with our Forum members than I would with someone using another method. I also sold two Airstreams using the classifieds, and was very satisfied with the sales end, too. I think my buyers were satisfied, too.

Oh - I also bought my current TV, a 2011 GMC Duramax from our classifieds too, last May.

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Old 01-24-2021, 01:11 PM   #13
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Every so often someone will post that they are looking to purchase something. I'm not sure how well that works, but you could possibly trigger someone on the fence about selling to go ahead and sell. You'd have to give a general description of what you're hoping to find.
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Old 01-24-2021, 01:20 PM   #14
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I'd wanted an Airstream for years, but it was 2019 when I started getting serious: watching the market, getting a feel for pricing, etc. Traded my 4Runner for a Sierra in early March of 2020 so I could better tow what I found, and... the world turned upside down.

Early on, had a couple of near-misses, then started searching wider, both in geographic area and in what length or year I might be willing to buy. I searched from March to November, before I found the right one at the right price, for us.

Along the way, I ended up chatting with a lot of different folks about their Airstreams. All were very willing to discuss pros/cons, repairs, things they liked and things they'd do differently. Even after either passing on buying theirs or someone else buying it before I did, many of them have invited me to come by to visit sometime. It was really amazing, a constant friendliness within the Airstream community.

In the end, I actually did end up buying a used one, through a dealership, that treated me as if I was buying a brand new one from them. They arranged for me to spend as much time as I wanted with one of their techs, who walked me through all the bits, and where I was more comfortable about, we could go more quickly, but where I had questions, we'd go over things more carefully, he'd answer questions, discuss different things I'd picked up from elsewhere to suss out competing ideas as to good and bad points, etc. It was very helpful to be able to discuss it w/ the guy who'd taken care of it since new (the previous owner had bought it new from the same dealership, had it serviced there by the very same tech guy).

Although pricing had gotten 'nuts', with patience, you can still find the right Airstream at the right price. Just keep watching the market, knowing what you want and seeing what the asking prices are... you'll see the ones w/ 'too high' of an asking price take longer to sell, whereas ones w/ a great price get snagged up instantly. Just keep watching the market, and you'll get a feel for it.

Good luck!
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Old 01-24-2021, 01:39 PM   #15
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There is no "right" price on a used Airstream. An expert in RVs can check the systems (especially if you are not used to them) and you can look at the interior and exterior, but there is no way to decide exactly what it is worth.

That's because there are far too many variables. All new interior? All original interior? Upgraded-updated-changed? Water, electrical or sewer work? How many owners? What type of usage did it get?

Some of the renovated older trailers are worth as much as a brand new one, especially if the renovation was done with complete new systems and high end appliances and fixtures. Some newer used trailers have had abuse or been misused and there will be significant repairs. We saw a newer one where the owner had been a "do-it-yourself" and had replaced most stock systems with "better" ones he created -sort of a Winchester Mystery House on wheels!

It is worth whatever you will pay for it. Compare new ones, compare other older ones, visit dealers and decide with your mind, your heart and your pocketbook.
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Old 01-24-2021, 02:16 PM   #16
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I would add, after having just sold a 3-year old Airstream, and just bought a 2021 Caravel, that Airstreams tend to hold their value probably better than just about any other RV. I bought my Int Serenity for $69,750 in 8/17, and just sold it for $66,250. So I figure I got 3 years of wonderful adventures all over the western US for about $3500!
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Old 01-24-2021, 02:57 PM   #17
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That’s worrisome to learn that you still encountered quality issues even after 1-2 years. I take it that extended warranty is not standard amongst all first time owners?
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