View Full Version : RV market freefall effect on new buyer

Linda Dyer
08-18-2008, 07:59 PM
We're looking at TM as perhaps the best insurance that we can buy a camper, use it, and possibly sell it without losing our shirts.

Still, the RV industry is experiencing a contraction. On eBay, TT bids are stopping at 1/3 to 1/2 of seller's expectations. TM auctions make for a small sample, but I see bids stopping at about 60-70% of expections: Better, but not much.

My friend in the RV biz says sales are down 41%. Dealers are closing, and manufacturers will start doing the same, perhaps before year end.

RVs with lots of specialty parts on board will lose resale worse than others if their manufacturer fails, which adds to our risk if we buy TM.

And finally, the NADA book value has little meaning in this setting, but I haven't seen sellers dropping their prices. Okay, so the units don't sell, but people trying to buy don't get what they want either.

So, I'm wondering what TM owners think about all this.

How do you think TM resale value will hold up in the coming months?

How robust is the manufacturer? Do you think they'll be here to service your rig and source spare parts?

If you were to sell your rig, how would you price it? NADA book? Book minus discount? How much discount?

08-18-2008, 08:36 PM
I'd say TM is doing ok in this economy - if you look at their web site and see the news releases (http://www.trailmanor.com/WebDocs/whatsnew/index.htm) you'll see that TM sales were up 16% in Feb over last year, in March they delivered 30% more trailers to the east coast, 10% more to the west coast, and I know the dealer in Colorado Springs has been selling a lot. In March TM reported that they were hiring 40 more people to allow them to increase production. I'd say that folks who are serious RVers are looking at TM as a way to continue their lifestyle without the 6-10 mpg they get in their motorhomes and pulling big TT and 5ers. And there are other segments as well - popup owners and tenters wanting to get away from the canvas walls (us!), folks with medium sized SUV's that want more than a tent or popup, but don't want to give up their Highlanders, Pilots, Siennas, etc.
As for resale value - I'll agree that the NADA is somewhat irrelevant. I bought my TM in March this year - a 5 yr old 3124KB - and it was priced about $2000 OVER NADA. The dealer did not budge. Basically he said if I didn't make a deposit, he'd have it sold by the end of the week. I bought it sight unseen, based on the reputation of the dealer and his guarantee that it would be in excellent shape when I picked it up. And he was right.
If I were going to sell mine now (which there is no way I would do) I would ask at least what I paid, if not a little more, based on some of the improvements I've made.
Granted, many people have said they are camping closer to home, but camping none the less. I'll be interested in what others have to say, but I think you'll find that most TM owners have a very bright view of their camping future.

08-18-2008, 08:53 PM
Times are tough. That being said, I think that there are deals both was to be made. The first part of this month a friend of mine sent me an email of a craigslist listing of a 2006 3124KS TM listed for $13995. This unit was at a dealer in the Dallas area that has three other locations but does not sell TM. This model lists for $30000+ with options (based on prices seen at the Dallas RV show in the spring). This was on a Thursday. I called on Friday and the unit was still for sale and I knew it had AC, one Cabinet, and awning. I made plans for a Saturday am viewing. The unit was clean and also had the Microwave counter unit, 2nd battery, AM/FM/CD radio, TV Antenna w/Amplifier, Rear Bike Receiver, two TV Shelves and a full sewer hose kit. Most items not listed in add. The sales guy said that the unit was taken in trade and I saw that the the PO tried to sell for $19995. The sales guy said that they were wholesaleing it but that nothing was wrong with the unit. I wanted to put the unit down as it was setup and they did not want to do that. There was no water or power to unit and it was too close to another to even try the awning. Well I had a 1999 Coleman Westlake in great shape so I figured I could trade it in and I knew that the 99 popup would bring between $3850 and $4825 per Nada. The dealer offered $1500. I said I would sell it my self which I did the next day for $4000 and would buy for there best price which was $13995 plus a 3500W no name Generator and $40 parts department credit. I found out that they had tried $18995 but lowered it when the owner said move it. OK long story now the meat of it.

Why I got a good price
1) Dealer does not Sell TM
2) Sales guys did not know jack about TM.
3) Owner did not want something that he thought his sales guys could not sell.
4) It was over 100 degs and the unit did not even have power to test the A/C

Why I sold my unit at a good price
1) I knew the Popup inside and out
2) I had the A/C running with cool drinks in the fridge (same 100+ days)
3) I knew it would sell as it was clean and everything worked.

For the record the parts and service guy knew a fair amount about TMs and tons about RVs...He replaced the AM/FM/CD with new unit, fixed a couple of very minor item in the walk though and he had everything working before I got there.

TMs are not sold everywhere so if you have time put the word out and keep watch at those dealers and craigslist. An anything that you are not shown about in a showing or walkthough you can get answered here.


Sorry for the length.

08-18-2008, 10:51 PM
RVs of any type are poor investments - they lose value, and you can buy a lot of hotel rooms for the cost of an RV (unless you use it a *lot* and don't camp at pay campgrounds).

Personally, if you are planning on using it for recreation, I'd pick the RV that fits your lifestyle the best. Pick one that you won't be afraid of using (TMs do pretty good here - it doesn't take a lot of extra gas to drive them, so you will be less hesitant to take it somewhere than a huge class A motor home).

All that said, I think TM is in an excellent market - a fuel efficient RV. It's competition is things like A-liners, pop-ups, and HiLos. Even among these, it can compete quite well on its merits.

As for your questions, I plan on being able to get parts for a long time - even when RVs were selling quicker, TM was always a bit better at supporting owners than most. I don't see this changing.

As for resale value, and what I would sell it for, I don't plan on selling the unit. I intend to keep it about 10 years total, I'm on my second year now.

Leslie & Nick
08-19-2008, 04:19 AM
Good questions Linda:)

I was just thinking the other day that I would not want to be a manufacturer (or a seller) of RVs right now. With the gas situation as bad as it is, and only faint hope that it will get much better, it's inevitable that there's going to be some shakeup in the whole RV market. This has happened before (in the early 70's, if you were around then), but I think the situation back then was more political grandstanding than a shortage of petroleum stock. I'm sure that some of today's situation certainly is political, but because of many factors, I now believe there is, or will be, a shortage of affordable crude oil.

Trailmanor is probably positioned better than most RV or TT manufacturers. They are going to make the most of the fact that their trailers are easier to tow because of their lighter weight, and as a result, require less fuel to travel from place to place. I just received an email yesterday from TM suggesting I check out their revised website - sure enough prominently pictured was a gas pump nozzle, with the message being that TMs cost less to tow.

I think that the overall point is that if people enjoy, and want to camp, then they are going to do it. They will find a way to go camping, no matter what, until the cost of camping interferes with other wants. They might not go as frequently as they once did, but they're going to camp 'come hell or high water'.

No doubt, the overall number of people camping is probably less than what it has been in years prior - campgrounds are not as crowded as they used to be, you might not need reservations, a lot of RVs for sale, etc. But the fact remains, there are still families out there who will continue to go camping.

As one of the earlier posters noted, 'RVs are not good investments'. In fact RVs are not investments (in the true sense of the word) at all, they are like cars - an expense. I'd say however, if you have fun and enjoy camping, now might be as good a time as any to jump in :)


P and B
08-19-2008, 05:35 AM
I agree with Nick. RVs are more of an expense in my view than even a car primarily because the market for them is much smaller. The real difference is that you can actually deduct interest on an RV as a second home. You can't with a car.

As to the RV industry, the reason they are going out of business is typically American in the sense that they plan for the very short term. Who would have thought that gas prices would rise? (right). The ones that will survive are the ones, like TM, that actually do some clever engineering instead of trying to paste an engine on a house. That said, there probably will always be one or two provost bus type RV manufacturers for those that want to do it full time.

One last point that I think someone made already is that the demand for a TM is predicated on the perceived and real value of it compared to the buyers objective/needs. That works to a point. As Nick points out, buyer will continue to buy RVs until the cost interferes with "necessary" expenses.


08-19-2008, 07:09 AM
How do you think TM resale value will hold up in the coming months?

How robust is the manufacturer? Do you think they'll be here to service your rig and source spare parts?

If you were to sell your rig, how would you price it? NADA book? Book minus discount? How much discount?

I think Trailmanor resale values will increase as people look for cheaper alternatives to their conventional campers, without having to go back to canvas (that should cover both tents and popups).

I took a factory tour last week while my TM was being looked over and tuned. There is a big "Now Hiring" sign hanging by the main sign at the entrance. My tour guide said that sign has been there for the last couple of years, except for a month or 2 at the beginning of this year when they had finally caught up with orders. The factory has the capacity to produce about 25% more units than they now do, but can't get the person-power to go to that volume. In seeing the factory, I think Trailmanor is a well run, family business that will be around for a long time. I am not concerned about not being able to get parts and support on my TM in the future.

I think NADA book value is a starting point for resale values. If you have a basic unit that is in average shape, that might be the price to see where it gets you. For me, I would take that price and add on for: condition, 15" tire upgrade, D&S screen door, complete WDH setup, new dinette upholstery, recent factory tuneup, etc........you can probably get the picture.

This is Chap, and I approved this message. :)

08-19-2008, 07:34 AM
Trail Manor has been in business for 60 years and will continue. This is a niche product, those in the know appreciate the features,garage storage for homeowner associations/condos, high insulation factors, and towability. At our dealership buyers want what they can tow with what they have, Pop-ups and Trail Manor are it. Big dealerships catering to the motorcoaches are in trouble. Many new to the forum see these technical questions as weaknesses in the unit, when in reality they are owners wanting to push the envelope. We have only had one resale unit this year-and we're a dealer! Trail Manor holds its value almost as well Airsteam! Owners are holding ( and using) rather than making a change.

08-19-2008, 07:55 AM
Trail Manor has been in business for 60 years and will continue.

John - from the TM web site -

"TrailManor was founded in 1983, but our story goes back much farther. Before the first TrailManor was shipped to a dealer, the design went through ten years of prototypes and testing."

So 2008 is the 25th year for TM (hence the 25th Anniversary Edition), unless you count the 10 years of prototypes.

35 years is not quite 60, but still a long time for a "niche" trailer. :)

08-19-2008, 09:21 AM

My wife and I are shopping around for a used Trailmanor, but we can't seem to find a site that lists the year-over-year changes. What little details were added, deleted or changed in 2000, 2001, 2002, etc? The overall quality seems incredible, but we can't find info about the details.

Dreaming of a TM,


08-23-2008, 07:52 AM
We just purchased a used TM last month. Our thoughts were as follows: we still wanted to go camping, we didn't want a "traditional" travel trailor which resulted in 6+ MPG fuel economy. We had a pop-up and wanted to keep that concept but have something easier to set up. TM fit the bill. I think Trailmanor is in a great position to expand their business.


08-23-2008, 02:46 PM

My wife and I are shopping around for a used Trailmanor, but we can't seem to find a site that lists the year-over-year changes. What little details were added, deleted or changed in 2000, 2001, 2002, etc? The overall quality seems incredible, but we can't find info about the details.

Dreaming of a TM,

JasonJason -

As you learned in the responses to your other thread on this same topic, you will probably not find a list of year-by-year changes to TMs. This includes major changes, not just the little details you are looking for. (I'm not sure you could find such a list for Toyota cars or Amana refrigerators, either.) The TM is an evolving product with a lot of engineering content, and changes are often introduced during a model year. In fact, they have been introduced at different times for different models.

If you are curious about some specific change, such as the change from square to round wheel wells, the membership here can converge on an approximate answer. But as for a list that you can skim down - I don't think I've ever encountered such a beast.

But don't let that discourage you. Climb aboard!


Duane C.
09-13-2008, 02:13 AM
Hi TM Family,

We are on our second TM. We sold our 1999 2720 SL last year and the phone was busy ringing with buyers. We listed it at the NADA price and the first person to see it bought it. It became a problem with others that same day giving offers much over the asking price, but I gave my word so it was sold.
We were looking for a TM because of all the things mentioned previously by other very SMART owners who value the combo of quality, light weight and solid engineering in an RV. We purchased both units used and paid a great cash price from the same dealer! (Talk about favor!)
We feel TM as a company will continue to thrive in this market. A big motor home or rig and 5th wheel is great for some but we aren't full time. A TM just makes sense to us and it's kind of like an insider secret among owners who smile kindly at the wacky questions we get asked about the trailer.
We also think it's great to be able to use it more, tow it easier and enjoy having it parked at home not at storage. Take a look at what you see when you drive by the RV storage sites, no TM's I bet.
I would not hesitate in buying a 2000 or newer unit. The core design has been very simular over the recent years and any questions you had on particular years can be posed to the TM dealer or on this Forum. Hope you take the plunge and join us, the waters fine!

09-13-2008, 08:40 PM
I would think that a TM is a good selection in this market. It folds down such that drag is reduced. What is more it can be towed with a van, at least the smaller models can. We selected a 2619 to be towed with s Sienna van and that is working well for us. The drop in mileage is not huge and we have our "home" with us. I would think that a TM will depreciate less than the other RV's out there. Anyway, we took the "plunge" with a 2619 2009 model. By the way, the dealer markup's on RV's is huge.

09-28-2008, 12:10 PM
In general I don't think the fuel savings by itself makes a good argument for purchase considering the TM costs about twice what a regular TT with equivalent features has. You'll never make up the fuel savings.

However, for towing ease and storage the TM is hard to beat. I cringe when I see how much full size TT's sway on te freeway.

09-29-2008, 09:58 AM
I can get outside storage in a gravel parking lot, fenced with combination gate but no video security and no security on site for about $100 per month.

So far I have saved $4,300 by parking the TM in the garage. Besides being secure it is out the sun and rain.

I don't think the price is double. When we bought our TM new for $24,000 a similar regular TT was about $18,000. A lot depends on what you think similar is.

So using my $18,000 comparison I have just broken even. Now I am saving money every month.

I intend to keep the TM another 10 years.

09-29-2008, 07:26 PM
I like your thinking Pop! 6 years x 12 months x 100 = $7200. (We've had the trailer since 2001 but had to pay to store it in our other house - couldn't get it turned and up the steep driveway).

I still am not sure it really pays off, but what we get is priceless anyway.