Caravan Part Exchange vs Private Sale – What’s Your Best Choice?


Hi, I’m Chris, I run Horton Common along with my father Robert.

Over the years of running Horton Common, I’ve had various conversations about buying and selling caravans with our guests. For instance, when our guests are thinking of changing their caravan there is the dilemma of going for part-exchange or trying to sell the caravan privately. My advice on which is the best option depends on individual circumstances, which I’ll discuss in this post. Just to be clear though, with a private sale you will likely receive a better financial return on your caravan. However, as with most things, simply looking at the decision in financial terms may be hiding some additional costs, effort and responsibility of going for the private sale route. For instance, with a private sale if something breaks on the caravan shortly after the sale are you comfortable to deal with the conversation with the buyer which will inevitably follow?

Caravan Part Exchange vs Private Sale

There is no simple answer of whether its best to go for a part-exchange or private sale when it comes to your caravan. For instance, while many people may choose to sell their car privately it can be a very different situation when it comes to a caravan. If you are just selling the caravan and not buying a replacement the situation can be a lot simpler. This is especially true if you store your caravan on your drive. However, if your caravan is kept at a storage yard, choosing to go for a private sale can be complicated.

Disclaimer: Hey! By the way… any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon or Caravan Guard are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you make a purchase, with no additional cost to you.

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Where Do You Store Your Caravan?

When it comes to deciding if a part-exchange or private sale is going to be best for you will often revolve around where you store your caravan. As a general rule, its going to be easier/less complicated to sell your caravan privately if its kept on your drive. Why? Well, when it comes to caravan storage yards they often only allow people to visit the storage yard who are owners of the vehicles. In many cases, storage yards will make customers sign contracts that ‘third parties’ will not be given access to the storage yard. Hence, that means you cannot show prospective private buyers your caravan on a storage yard without invalidating your contract.

However, let’s presume for a second your storage yard lets guests (potential buyers) visit. Anyone who has sold a car privately before knows that its rarely the first person that comes to look who actually buys. Well, many people have to travel half an hour or potentially more to get to the storage yard. Your time has value, so while you may get a better price for your caravan via private sale you need to factor in your time of showing the caravan to multiple potential buyers before it actually sells. Hence, your time is a cost which needs to be factored in. Therefore, while the income received from a private sale may be higher than a part-exchange, the costs (your time) can be higher.

Caravan Storage Yard
Many storage yards will prohibit access from ‘third parties’. Hence you may not be able to invite potential buyers to look at the caravan when kept at a storage yard: Image – Caravan Storage Yard Guide

The no third-party visitor rule when you think about it makes a lot of sense. A potential thief interested in stealing caravans/motorhomes from a storage yard could claim to be interested in purchasing the caravan. They then use that visit to the storage yard to have a look inside, see what vehicles they want to steal, have a closer look at the security etc. If you do have a drive in front of your home you could maybe temporarily park your car on the street and put your caravan in its place. However, with any private sale, you never know how long its going to take to actually sell the caravan. It could be there for days, weeks or months.

Caravan Modifications and Improvements

Since you first purchased the caravan its likely some modifications/improvements may have taken place. For instance, many of our guests have opted to have a motor mover fitted. Many will also have chosen to purchase an awning, potentially an expensive air awning. There may also be other improvements such as a better quality jockey wheel.

Whether you are considering selling your caravan via a private sale or part-exchange you need to consider do you want to keep these modifications/accessories for your next caravan, sell them with the caravan or try and sell them separately?

What To Do With Motor Movers? – A Tricky Dilemma

I would say over 50% of our guest to Horton Common have a motor mover fitted to their caravan. Motor movers are a significant investment, hence they create a bit of a dilemma when it comes to selling a caravan. There are a couple of options you could consider.

  1. Leave on the Caravan: You could just leave the motor mover on the caravan. With a private sale, you could advertise it as a feature to try and make your caravan more appealing. With a part-exchange try and get the dealer to increase their offer due to the fact a motor mover is fitted. Provided it still works correctly of course. Motormover problems do happen.
  2. Remove and fit to the new Caravan: Now, if you are suitably capable of DIY you could remove the motor mover and either fit it to the new caravan yourself or get an installer to do it. However, if you are changing from a single axle to a twin axle caravan or vice versa this may not be a viable option.
  3. Remove and sell separately: While this an option, and you do find second-hand motor movers on eBay that’s generally because people are upgrading the motormover on the same caravan. If you are actually selling the caravan, in this case, I don’t think it makes logical sense to separate the motor mover from the caravan to sell separately. You may get a little bit more income, however as reference above when you factor in your time to remove the motormover and deal with the selling process it just doesn’t make sense.

Deciding what to do with your motor mover in a private sale or part-exchange can be a tricky decision to make: Image – Amazon.co.uk

Motor movers – Private Sale Advice

My personal thoughts are if you have had a motormover fitted to your caravan within the last couple of years then its probably worth having it removed and fitted to your new caravan. Via a private sale, you will need an installer to visit to remove it from your old caravan and then revisit to install the mover to your new caravan. You will typically be looking at £150 for each visit. Hence, around £300 to have that move taken off your old caravan and fitted to your new caravan.

However, motormover tech improves every couple of years. Therefore you may feel you want to opt for a new mover with your new caravan. Older motor movers were typically manually engaged. Today, the majority of motor movers are automatic engagement. You also have some motor movers which are part of a self-levelling system.

Motor Movers – Part-Exchange Advice

If your motormover is relatively new or you don’t wish to upgrade you could negotiate with your caravan dealer to remove and install the motor move to your new caravan as part of the deal. Potentially expect some resistance on the dealers part to this solution. A motor mover on a caravan is like optional extras on car, the dealer makes some of their best income on extras. Therefore, the dealer will likely try and sell the benefits of having a new/more modern mover fitted to your new caravan.

My advice, therefore, is to do your research on motor movers before you visit the dealer and have to make that decision. You will then be better informed and able to decide if you want to accept the offer the dealer is making. Do the motor movers they are offering come with the features your after? Are they offering a good deal or overcharging for a budget motor mover? My best bit of advice is to become an educated consumer. It gives you much more power in a negotiating process to get the best deal.

What To Do With Your Awning?

When it comes to your existing awning a lot of the same questions present themselves as with motor movers. Whether you have a traditional awning, air awning or roll out awning there a couple of things you need to consider.

  • Do you wish to try and sell the awning separately?
  • Will your existing awning fit your new caravan?
  • Include the awning in the private sale/part-exchange?

If you have invested in an expensive air awning what to do with it when it comes to a private sale or part-exchange can be a dilemma: Image – Amazon.co.uk

If you don’t want to keep the awning the easiest option is to include it as part of the deal with a private sale or part-exchange. You will likely get less than if you sold the awning separately, again you need to factor in your time. The best place to start is to browse websites such as Amazon and find out the value of the awning new if its still for sale. Then browse websites such as eBay to see the used/second-hand prices. You need to consider the condition of your awning. For instance, air awnings sometimes need leak repairs. You will then be able to gauge a price for your own awning. This will help you to decide if a separate private sale of the awning is worth your time and effort.

Will Your Existing Awning Fit Your New Caravan?

If you are simply selling your caravan via private sale to upgrade to a new caravan you may want to hold on to your awning. However, you obviously need to find out if your existing awning will actually fit your new caravan. Depending on the shape/length of the body of the caravan getting the awning into the rail is easier on some caravans than others. You also need to consider where the lockers, fridge vents and toilet locker are located in the new caravan. Will your existing awning ‘work’ with the location of the lockers/doors/windows on your new caravan?

Using an existing porch awning from your caravan on your next caravan will probably not be a problem. However, its not so simple when it comes to larger awnings: Image – Amazon.co.uk

From speaking to some of our guests they were perfectly happy with their awning but sold it separately or privately with the caravan because it just didn’t ‘work’ with their new caravan. Even a few extra inches in the length of the caravan/position of the doors/windows/lockers can have a big impact on how you use the awning space. As I’ve stated in the image caption above, the exception is porch awnings. Which due to their size are likely to create fewer issues when changing from one caravan to the next.

When it comes to part-exchange whether the dealer wants to accept the awning as part of the deal will vary, some will be interested. Others may want to complete the deal just on the condition of the caravan its self. Obviously, unless the dealer has seen the awning erected they don’t know its condition, whether all the poles are present etc.

Caravan Trade-In / Part-Exchange Top Tips

From discussing the topic of a private sale vs part-exchange with our guests I generally think that a part-exchange is going to work out best for most people. However, you still obviously want to get the best deal possible. Therefore below are some of my ‘top tips’. Granted, some of the points below will be pretty obvious to many people. However, I find its generally not a good idea to assume too much:

Clean Your Caravan Thoroughly

If you’re trying to get the dealer to give you the best possible price for your caravan you want to get it as clean as possible. Now, I’ve written lots of posts now on how to clean a caravan. That main posts links to all my other associated caravan cleaning posts. You may want to potentially consider polishing the caravan. If there are window scratches, trying to remove them could help you to secure a better trade-in price.

Be Honest, and Take Pictures

To get the best part-exchange deal you may want to ring around a couple of dealerships. This is a good idea, but when you’re on the phone be honest and upfront about the condition of the caravan. State any dints/body damage and any appliances which are no longer working or not working as they should. Go around the caravan with a damp meter to see if there is developing damp problem. As the dealer will check for damp before they agree on a price. Otherwise, they may indicate a trade-in price over the phone which once they see the caravan they are not willing to offer. Hence, really the best option is to find the email addresses of the various dealers, take pictures of the caravan (including any damage) and ask for a trade-in price once you know which new caravan you want. Therefore, you need to have done your research on makes, models and caravan layouts.

Find Your Caravans Documentation

If your caravan has received an annual service by a mobile service engineer or a service centre make sure you have all the documentation to prove it. If you still have the caravans owners manual put that back in the caravan and make sure you also have your CRIS document to hand when taking the caravan to the dealer.

Final Checks Before the Part-Exchange

Obviously make sure you have taken all of your personal possessions out of the caravan. And I know this sounds obvious, but empty the toilet. Apparently sometimes people forget, and dealers will add on a charge to the empty the toilet, around £60. Decode the alarm (if you have one) and take the AL-KO caravan wheel lock with you (if you have one). If you have a hitch lock keep that for your new caravan. Finally, check what forms of personal identification you will need to complete the deal along with details on the agreed payment method. You should also only cancel your caravan insurance after the hand over of the caravan to the dealer.

Caravan Part-Exchange Options

Its quite understandable that you may wish to complete the part-exchange deal and purchase of the new caravan with your local dealership. However, as referenced above, to be an educated consumer you need to talk to other dealerships to get the best deal. If you can get a better dealer from another dealer you can use that to help negotiate a better deal with your local dealership. Finding other caravan dealerships can be done with a Google search. However, also have other options such as using Autotrader.

Caravan Part-Exchange Auto Trader
If you click the image above it will load up the Auto Trader website with details on the caravan part-exchange service: Image – Autotrader.co.uk

Conclusions on Caravan Part-Exchange vs Private Sale

So whether a part-exchange or private sale will be the best option for you will depend on a lot of factors. Most prominently where you currently store your caravan, how much spare time you have and what value you attribute to your time. Going down the private sale route may provide a better financial return. However, it also can include additional costs, including your time. Sometimes deals fall through and sometimes purchasers are not happy. Are you prepared and willing to deal with those potential issues for the additional income? In reality, most people just don’t have the time for a private sale to be the most practical and viable option. However, that doesnt mean you should accept just the first part-exchange deal you are offered. Do a bit of research beforehand to give you the tools to get the best deal possible.

Thanks for reading, I hope the above information has made it easier for you to decide if a private sale or part-exchange/trade-in is the best option for you. I also hope at some point in the near future you will consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common Caravan Site. 🙂

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Chris - Site Manager

Hi, I’m Chris, along with my father Robert we operate and maintain Horton Common Caravan Site. Located in the Staffordshire Moorlands Horton Common benefits from expansive views over the Peak District National Park. Horton Common features five hard standing fully serviced pitches for caravans and motorhomes.

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