Author Topic: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?  (Read 3398 times)

STEMorbust

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Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« on: December 11, 2019, 10:45:40 AM »
I've been inspired to get creative with how we transition from 'conversion van' owners to homeowners. We own a 2014 Mercedes Sprinter van that we converted into an almost RV (no plumbing means that it isn't registered or classified as an actual RV). The estimated worth of the vehicle is $65k and I owe about $18k on a 2.9% loan.

Recently, we moved to Seattle and are paying $2k in monthly rent. While we love the rental, we acknowledge the high price tag and are looking at next steps. It's a monthly lease, so we aren't tied up. At the same time, I'm looking to sell our van conversion and either go car-less or get something cheap and reliable sub-$8k.

One idea that crossed my mind is finding a homeowner that wants to hit the road (maybe they hit FIRE!) and trade their house for our van, either as a discount off of the purchase price or in exchange for a few years of free rent. Is that a bad idea? Any clue how I would go about handling the transaction?

Thanks all.

therethere

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2019, 11:02:31 AM »
PTF. I've always wondered who buys the converted camper vans in that price range. I've been told that you can't get a used car loan to pay for them. So presumably they need to be bought in cash by someone looking to get into vanlife. But a 65k pricetag would be hard to swallow for a conversion that wasn't brand new and wasn't done by a professional. I could see how your trade idea could be beneficial for you to get more money out of your van and save the new owner on taxes.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2019, 11:04:13 AM by therethere »

Wrenchturner

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2019, 11:31:41 AM »
Sprinter based RVs are very expensive as you might already know.  You might have to eat a bit of a loss but you can probably find some weirdo to factor in the van on a house sale.

I say that with plenty of love for weirdos.

But yeah, your amateur install might be a concern.  No plumbing helps with that, do you have any LP stuff that might scare someone away?  A manometer leak test showing no pressure drops should ease their concerns, along with a co/lp detector.  Does it have solar?  People love solar.

STEMorbust

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2019, 11:33:10 AM »
PTF. I've always wondered who buys the converted camper vans in that price range. I've been told that you can't get a used car loan to pay for them. So presumably they need to be bought in cash by someone looking to get into vanlife. But a 65k pricetag would be hard to swallow for a conversion that wasn't brand new and wasn't done by a professional. I could see how your trade idea could be beneficial for you to get more money out of your van and save the new owner on taxes.

Yes, that's definitely a challenge. A prospective buyer would only be able to secure a loan for the value of the base vehicle (at this point, something like $25-30k). This route would be a way to make up for the other ~$35k without needing a lump sum. FWIW the parts cost of the build came out around $55k including the van... Roughly half of the cost of a professional build, but with a few hundred hours of work and the present challenge of selling it.

The van project made for some memorable trips and valuable building experience but trust me -- I'm looking forward to owning a fully-insured cheapo 15 yo wagon/compact.

STEMorbust

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2019, 11:39:11 AM »
Sprinter based RVs are very expensive as you might already know.  You might have to eat a bit of a loss but you can probably find some weirdo to factor in the van on a house sale.

I say that with plenty of love for weirdos.

But yeah, your amateur install might be a concern.  No plumbing helps with that, do you have any LP stuff that might scare someone away?  A manometer leak test showing no pressure drops should ease their concerns, along with a co/lp detector.  Does it have solar?  People love solar.

That's the plan! A craigslist posting seeking weirdos might not be the best play though.

It does have solar. Fortunately, I took many pics throughout the build process.

ixtap

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2019, 11:48:05 AM »
How are you calculating that value? Low mileage professional, name brand builds seem to be listed for that amount, perhaps even higher, but an amateur install without plumbing and presumably was actually used and driven? I have looked at brand new builds on a 2014 for less than that.

As for the plan, look at craigslist or whatever the kids are doing these days. Put it out there, but also look at listings that interest you for anything to suggest that the owner might be willing to think out of the box. Contact them and make a proposal.

therethere

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2019, 11:59:11 AM »
I've been watching sprinter vans for well over a year now. Those listed >$50k that aren't name-brand professionally done or 4x4 take months to sell, if at all. The Ram Promasters listed that high seem like a complete joke to me unless they're brand new. Now, I don't know how nice your van is.... But I would value a high roof Sprinter with 80-110k miles on it at $20,000-$22,000. And value $5-$12k for the build out depending on the extent and whether it meets my needs. You say you only put in $55k so how is it worth $65k? It's a pretty hard to sell to anyone saying you put 10k of value into it (above the van and install costs) AND drove it around for months or years.

Maybe I'm cheap, but personally I value the labor at near $0. Mainly because I've got zero idea how it was built, the materials used (and cost), and most will want to modify it some anyway. Not to be a downer, but I think most people overvalue their vans and "craftsmanship" by an obscene amount (some as much as 2x!). There's a lot of "value" that people assume because of their construction time and their emotional investment in the van. But really, a campervan is a depreciating asset and should be treated as such. I wouldn't base your pricing on craigslist ads if you actually want to sell it anytime soon.

« Last Edit: December 11, 2019, 12:06:50 PM by therethere »

STEMorbust

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2019, 01:08:55 PM »
Thanks for the replies. Like I said, I was going off listings Iíve seen. Thatís a bummer to hear that theyíre selling for less.

The van is a 2014 and has 50k miles.


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Wrenchturner

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2019, 01:29:45 PM »
Thanks for the replies. Like I said, I was going off listings Iíve seen. Thatís a bummer to hear that theyíre selling for less.

The van is a 2014 and has 50k miles.


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Rent it out using wheelestate.ca or some variant?

therethere

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2019, 01:50:42 PM »
People in my area appear to rent out their Sprinters for $150-$200 a day on Outdoorsy.

It's just a hard sell because most of the people aiming for vanlife are looking to live cheaply. They don't have 65k in cash to drop on a van on top of the cash to live off of for a year or two while they travel. Not to mention, the seller is assuming all of the risk in this transaction. Most of the people buying vans at that price point seem to be boomers, and they prefer the professional built new ones for reliability.

You do have a big leg up with such low miles on the van. That's worth $$$$.

STEMorbust

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2019, 05:48:30 PM »
People in my area appear to rent out their Sprinters for $150-$200 a day on Outdoorsy.

It's just a hard sell because most of the people aiming for vanlife are looking to live cheaply. They don't have 65k in cash to drop on a van on top of the cash to live off of for a year or two while they travel. Not to mention, the seller is assuming all of the risk in this transaction. Most of the people buying vans at that price point seem to be boomers, and they prefer the professional built new ones for reliability.

You do have a big leg up with such low miles on the van. That's worth $$$$.

I like that thought! And youíre totally right about the target audience. I just have to find the right influencer. Maybe a boomer vanlife influencer?

Iíll test the waters with a post locally and see if I get any bites. I have a feeling that if I were to work anything out, itíd be a maximum of one degree of separation for the added trust factor.

Iíll research the rental services as well.


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Cassie

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2019, 06:00:32 PM »
Our friends wanted to borrow our motor home but our insurance wouldnít cover them to drive it.

Malcat

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2019, 06:12:24 PM »
Have you ever house hunted?

Are you that flexible in terms of home you are willing to buy that you would specifically seek to buy a home from someone who specifically wants the kind of vehicle you have??

This seems like such an unlikely sequence of events, I would focus more on selling the vehicle privately.

Finding the right home at the right price and making the right offer to actually get that home can be such a stressful process depending on your market. I can't imagine trying to throw in such a wild card as trying to figure out if the seller wants your vehicle and then trying to assess what value they're willing to assign to it and matching that with what value you are willing to bid on their property.

As someone who just bought and sold, i can't fathom either transaction having worked out if any party tried to throw a vehicle into the mix.

If in your travels you meet a cool character who falls in love with your vehicle and says "I've really been considering getting rid of my home and going all nomad in exactly that kind of van" then, you could probably make something work.

...but trying to buy from someone who is trying to sell conventionally???

It's a seller's market where I am right now and I didn't even consider offers with any conditions period. Even if someone had a specialized vehicle that I was interested in, I would have made it a separate deal and would never have tied it up in the sale of my home.

Seadog

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2019, 08:29:38 AM »
Have you ever house hunted?

Are you that flexible in terms of home you are willing to buy that you would specifically seek to buy a home from someone who specifically wants the kind of vehicle you have??

This seems like such an unlikely sequence of events, I would focus more on selling the vehicle privately.

Finding the right home at the right price and making the right offer to actually get that home can be such a stressful process depending on your market. I can't imagine trying to throw in such a wild card as trying to figure out if the seller wants your vehicle and then trying to assess what value they're willing to assign to it and matching that with what value you are willing to bid on their property.

As someone who just bought and sold, i can't fathom either transaction having worked out if any party tried to throw a vehicle into the mix.

If in your travels you meet a cool character who falls in love with your vehicle and says "I've really been considering getting rid of my home and going all nomad in exactly that kind of van" then, you could probably make something work.

...but trying to buy from someone who is trying to sell conventionally???

It's a seller's market where I am right now and I didn't even consider offers with any conditions period. Even if someone had a specialized vehicle that I was interested in, I would have made it a separate deal and would never have tied it up in the sale of my home.

I'm genuinely curious your mindset here, not as a means of attack, but just out of honest curiosity, as I see ads for people looking to *trade* all the time.

Why?

Is it the genuine kick out of not having used cash? Is it because you don't have cash? As the above said, if you're both looking to get rid of the RV, and buy a home, why not just do 2 separate transactions? For big purchases, I research them assiduously, the only way that would work out for you, is if you both had the right home, and the right RV for me, both at a fair price, or one being not quite exact right, but attached with a 5 figure discount.

That is, unless you find the exact right person, you're probably not even going to get market value for your various items, so what is the draw of the complicated trade?

Car Jack

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2019, 08:47:48 AM »
You can always try to sell the van.  Back in the 70's, I bought a brand new Chevy 3/4 ton van.  Long wheel base, no side window, back windows, 350 V8, automatic.  Paid $5180 for it.  I was into custom vans and built it into a somewhat practical van for weekend "truck ins" and somewhat custom with molded in flares, big wheels/tires, complete interior including refrigerator, bed, drawers built in, all the audio etc.  When I decided to go back to college, one of the locals knew all about my build and what I put into it.  He bought it for $8500.  So the lesson is that indeed, you might get back something of what you put into your build.  Only time, marketing and a buyer looking for exactly what you have and most importantly, the competition and what they cost will tell. 

I do like your idea of trading towards a house.  As a seller, I'd have the deal written up as 2 separate deals.  The house at a discounted amount and the vehicle as a discounted amount.  Why?  Well, then the commission is less and a loan on the vehicle if they wanted to take it out would work.  You'd need the 2 linked such that either both deals close or neither does.

STEMorbust

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2019, 12:51:00 PM »
Thank you for the helpful replies!

A trade is a long shot. I suppose my curiosity is in how it would work, in practice. Would the van be gifted? Would it be a discounted value plus cash?

Iím realizing that the real advantage of a trade would be in avoiding the cash-only price of the vehicle beyond the base appraisal (a challenge I mentioned in an earlier comment). The van could be sold for only $20k with the homeowner discounting the home price by $40k or whatever the agreed upon amount is.

I agree that the more probable outcome will be that the van is sold outright and we take our time finding a home. Seems best given the current market predictions anyways.


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FrugalRubles

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2020, 01:26:06 PM »
I'd love to get an update on what happened here with the Sprinter. I've been contemplating a van build for myself, been keeping an eye on used Promasters and Transits.


Dicey

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2020, 09:56:14 AM »
I agree the value you're assigning to the van seems high. Just before Covid hit, we purchased (with cold, hard cash) a 2012 Serenity by Leisure Travel for about that price. It's a Sprinter chassis, with a fiberglass body and is fully outfitted in fancypants luxury. It only has 25k miles on it. It was garaged at an indoor facility between trips. It's pristine. Google it for comparison.

Most folks are going to discount anything that is home made and worse, is not self contained. The Covid problem makes lack of plumbing even worse.

The reason people trade things is often because they have no cash. Sometimes they do it to avoid disclosing known defects.

Buying a house and getting a mortgage is tremendously complicated. Don't make it more so. Sell the van if you're really and truly done with it, then start shopping for RE.

StashingAway

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2020, 10:07:11 AM »
Agreed with everyone on here. You will find more buyers trying to sell your van separately (and get a more competitive price)

You will find more sellers buying a house traditionally.

The only way I could see it happening is if you already knew someone looking for said deal (relative, friend, etc).

DIY vans shouldn't be worth much (I'll withhold further opinions on that). But with Vanlife trending, a bunch of suckers are out there buying them. You have a good shot selling on the west coast as well. Plus RV sales are backordered through the winter right now in many places so buyers might be more willing to pay a premium for yours.

Dicey

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2020, 10:18:25 AM »
Funny, I spoke with a friend yesterday. Earlier this year they bought a new truck and an Airstream, planning to sell their fairly late model RoadTrek. They have decided to keep the RT, because of the bathroom. They use it almost as a daily driver so they never have to use a public restroom. They will use the other rig for longer trips when the pandemic eases.

STEMorbust

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2020, 03:02:18 PM »
@Dicey -- Nice rig! I've been monitoring Sprinter Forum (and Craigslist) and decided to list ours for low 60s. I think there's a market for non-RV vans that have a relatively short wheelbase and can carry multiple bikes inside, under the bed. We'll see if there are any bites. Have the luxury of not rushing.

You make a good point about trading being done in lieu of having cash on hand. That was part of our thinking, although we also didn't/don't know much about what went into a home purchase and were curious if it'd make the sale easier. With a DIY conversion, there's no option to finance it in full as a vehicle/RV.

In other news, we did buy a house and are on the verge of moving in! The van is up for sale and we're shopping for the vehicle and cargo bike combo that will replace it.

Dicey

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2020, 06:20:01 PM »
Wow! Congratulations on the home purchase. Maybe you should hang on to the van until you get moved in. Good luck with the van sale.

STEMorbust

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2020, 02:30:20 PM »
I'm happy to report that we also sold the van for close to our asking price! It felt great to roll all of the money invested in that project into our accounts. We bought a 7 year old car with 100,000 miles for $10k cash (Subaru Outback), put $10k into the new house (mostly a $6k asbestos removal job), and put the rest into savings/investments.

We had revised our plan to see if anyone wanted to trade a vehicle for a discount, but after someone wanted to trade a $45k truck we decided it was a bad call and we should just be patient. An all-cash buyer came around in the first couple of weeks and everything went smoothly.

Dicey

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Re: Can I trade an RV for a discount on a home purchase?
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2020, 03:34:48 PM »
Hooray!