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Old 08-18-2008, 07:59 PM   #1
Linda Dyer
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Default RV market freefall effect on new buyer

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?
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:36 PM   #2
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I'd say TM is doing ok in this economy - if you look at their web site and see the news releases ( 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.
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:53 PM   #3
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Default RV market - Long post.

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.
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Old 08-18-2008, 10:51 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 08-19-2008, 04:19 AM   #5
Leslie & Nick
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Location: North Georgia
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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

2002 TM 2619
2002 Ford F-150
The Camping Canines - Aubie (RIP 7/14/08), & Klondike, Zeke and Grace, Mocha
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Old 08-19-2008, 05:35 AM   #6
P and B
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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.

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Old 08-19-2008, 07:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Linda Dyer View Post
  • 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, can probably get the picture.

This is Chap, and I approved this message.
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Old 08-19-2008, 07:34 AM   #8
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Default Manufacturer integrity

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.
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Old 08-19-2008, 07:55 AM   #9
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Default Historical correction

Originally Posted by gatorsrvman View Post
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.
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Old 08-19-2008, 09:21 AM   #10
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Default Year to year changes.


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,

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