We get quite a few guests each year to Horton Common who are new motorhome owners. Often due to the fact that a motorhome is a significant investment, it will be a used motorhome. I have other returning guests who sometimes either upgrade or downgrade their motorhome. For instance, if they are looking for a newer or larger/smaller vehicle. In some cases, those motorhomes were purchased through a private sale. Therefore on occasions, I discuss with our guests what methods/websites they choose to use to sell or purchase a motorhome via private sale. So that’s the topic of today’s post. However, I will also discuss the potential risks when buying/selling a motorhome through a private sale and how to protect yourself from fraud.
When I’ve discussed this topic with our guests they told me they decided to go down the private route to simply get a better deal. For those who were selling their motorhome to purchase a new motorhome from a dealer a part exchange price was offered. However, I’ve had feedback from guests more than once that they were not happy with the exchange price offered by the dealer. Therefore, they choose to just sell their motorhome privately. For those purchasing a second-hand motorhome that chose to go down the private route its similar reasoning. They could purchase a motorhome from a dealer with the associated warranty/technical support etc. However, they felt the price wasn’t a good deal. Therefore they chose to go with a private sale to get the best/biggest motorhome they could for their budget.
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Introduction to Motorhome Private Sales and Purchases
For the sake of this particular post, I’m going to presume to have decided which type/class of motorhome you’re after. Whether its a panel van motorhome or coachbuilt. When it comes to private motorhome sales and purchases you could obviously look to your local paper, but that’s going to be slim pickings. Really, a motorhome private sale/purchase is going to start on the internet. So first let’s discuss the various websites and their individual features for finding and selling motorhomes privately.
Autotrader.co.uk is the largest online market place for selling or buying a motorhome as a private sale. Autotrader claims that every minute someone chooses to sell a vehicle on their market place. However, I’m pretty sure that’s for all vehicles, not motorhomes specifically. Within their market place, there is a lot of information you can customise depending on if you are searching for or selling a motorhome under a private sale. The berth, make and year, but also how far you want to search. When it comes to purchasing a motorhome under a private sale I would personally not recommend a one time view and purchase. Therefore, you have to factor that into the distance your willing to travel to go and look at/purchase the motorhome.
You cannot select private sale on the initial Autotrader search box. However, after you put in your initial selection and search you can enter more detailed search criteria. For instance, at the time I loaded up the website there were a total of 7,200 motorhomes for sale, however, only 528 of those adverts were private sellers. The remaining 6,672 listings are for motorhomes sold by dealers.
Autotrader Motorhome Private Sale Listing Examples
Typically you will find that the private motorhome sales listings are for older vehicles. Under my search, the lowest offering was a private listing for a 1987 Ford Transit Sleeper for just £1,750. It actually looked like a pretty good deal, it had only covered 55,000 miles since 1987, apparently. I’ll talk more about checking the details of a motorhome under a private sale later in the post. Anyway, its not only old motorhomes on Autotrader under a private listing. The most expensive unit listed was a very nice Hymer Starline for £84,000.
How Safe is it Selling/ Purchasing a Private Sale Motorhome on Autotrader?
Autotrader is not directly involved in the transaction of the sale of any private motorhomes on their directory. They are purely a facilitator, helping buyers find sellers. Hence, not all the details on a private motorhome sale listing may be accurate (55,000 miles, cough cough). Autotrader does not check these details. Hence, their official advice on staying safe while using their website is as follows:
So as a buyer, never purchase a used motorhome from a private seller without seeing the vehicle in-person to check its condition and documentation. As a seller, be very wary of anyone stating they will pay via credit card and it will be collected and shipped somewhere. That’s a stereotypical dodgy fraudulent enquiry that one. As a buyer, if you do spot what you think is a dodgy fraudulent listing, please use the link below the image above to report it to Autotrader. Even if you are savvy enough not to fall for it someone else may do. That page on the Autotrader website also has some good general advice on how to avoid scams etc. Generally, as a place to buy and sell vehicles Autotrader has a good reputation. This is reflected in their Trustpilot rating:
So the next most popular website to try if you are looking for a private motorhome sale is eBay. During my checks while writing this post there were 6,712 motorhome listed. However, with eBay its harder to separate the listings between trade and private sellers. As with Autotrader, a significant number of those 6,712 are from trade dealers. You will probably come across quite a few vehicles listed on both Autotrader and eBay. However, make a note of the price. Sometimes one of the listings will be older than another. Hence, on the more recent listing, the price may have dropped. Therefore, its always a good idea to check listing details for the same motorhome across multiple online platforms. Are there discrepancies between the quoted mileage for the motorhome etc? If there are, this could potentially be the sign of a fraudulent advert.
If you have never used eBay before or you have only ever bought or sold small value items I would advise visiting the eBay help page. There is a comprehensive list of articles on how bidding works, purchaser and seller responsibilities etc. One of my previous posts on buying a used motorhome online discusses eBay purchases with an example video. While you may feel comfortable bidding on smaller value items you have not seen in person, its not advisable to do so with a motorhome. Therefore, as referenced above, its only really practical to look at private motorhome listings within a distance you are comfortable travelling to on multiple occasions to complete a sale. Later in this post, I’ll discuss how to you can check the background and details on the vehicle before agreeing to the purchase.
So we are now getting into the more niche/less popular options when it comes to finding a motorhome for private sale. However, all of these options are worth considering for you to potentially find the best deal. Gumtree is more like Autotrader than eBay as they are purely adverts. You cannot actually purchase the motorhome through the platform. Interestingly though, Gumtree is owned by eBay. Why would someone list their motorhome on Gumtree and not Autotrader? Well, some people will list on both, but Gumtree has a different audience and their listing fee is less (free).
As before with Autotrader, while Gumtree have over 1,600 motorhomes listed only 298 of those listings were private sales. You can search by berth, engine size, body type etc. You can even search by MPG, however, I wouldn’t put too much faith into the claimed MPG figure. Its a seller chosen category, so its likely a seller may want to make the motorhome appear more efficient than it really is. You could always consider a motorhome remap in the future to improve MPG. I would also advise changing the fuel filter. Just like the other platforms, the ‘being safe on Gumtree‘ page is worth a read.
Another option worth checking out is Preloved. Its even more niche than Gumtree. But you never know, you might find that gem of a sale on this platform and none of the others. Preloved is very similar to Gumtree with no listing or selling fees.
While Preloved may have a much smaller total number of motorhomes and campervans listings at 951, they actually have a much higher proportion of private sales at 523. Unfortunately, the search categories are much more basic than that of Autotrader, eBay or Gumtree. Therefore you are going to have to put in a bit more work to sort through the listings to find a motorhome you’re interested in.
5. Practical Motorhome/Caravans for Sale
Ok, so on the Practical Motorhome website you may have come across the ‘for sale’ section. This loads up a listing with search options powered by the separate website Caravans for Sale. Now, that website actually sells motorhomes as well as caravans just to avoid any confusion. The problem is the search function on the Practical Motorhome website does not allow you to differentiate trade listings and private listings. Its just one big list and quite a big one with 4456 motorhomes last time I checked.
The Practical Motorhome website is quite ‘ad-heavy’, therefore it runs pretty slow and user navigate isn’t the best experience. And for this particular post on finding private sales if we cannot separate out the listings between trade and private its not ideal. The strange thing is when you go directly to the Caravans for Sale website and search for motorhomes you can search only for private listings? Whether this is a conscious choice by Practical Motorhome to disable this feature on their listings I have no idea. Therefore, if you do want to search purely for private listings go directly to the Caravans for Sale website through the link below.
Staying Safe with a Motorhome Private Sale
Ok, so we have covered the basics several times in this post of seeing the motorhome in person before agreeing to a sale price. You obviously want to check the condition of the motorhome as thoroughly as you can. Personally, I would take a damp meter with me as well. However, much of the visual checks you will be able to carry out will be superficial. What you really need to know is some history for that vehicle before you agree to a sale. Therefore you want to get an HPI check. For starters, you can actually get a free MOT history check on a vehicle.
The free MOT history check will tell you a lot of important information about a particular private sale motorhome. The recorded millages, previous MOT results and any refusal notices. If you check the images of some of the cheapest motorhomes you find on Autotrader and eBay etc and check their MOT history it comes up with some predictable failers with various issues. With any motorhome private listing if their sales description doesn’t match up with the MOT history results you have two options. Steer clear of the sale or use that MOT history evidence as a barging tool. However, MOT history is not really sufficient information to be a properly ‘educated consumer’. Once you have narrowed down a motorhome you’re interested in then carry out a full HPI check.
Now, these full HPI checks are not free. Therefore you only want to carry these out on motorhomes you are seriously considering purchasing. A single check costs £19.99, but there is also the multicheck option which covers a fully HPI check on three vehicles for £29.99. When you are considering a private sale a full HPI check is essential to protect your self so you know exactly what you’re agreeing to purchase.
Conclusions on Motorhome Private Sales
As you can see from the above there are lots of options as a potential purchaser to find that particular motorhome you are looking for under a private sale. As a seller, there are both free (Gumtree, Preloved) and paid (Autotrader, eBay) options available. Whichever side of the deal you’re coming from you need to approach any deals cautiously and with as much information as possible. And remember, the old adage is often true. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. As a final quick note, whether its a relatively new or old motorhome, get its brakes checked over as soon as possible. You may also want to check out my post on why a used Hymer motorhome can be a wise investment.
I hope you found this post of some use/interest. I also hope at some point in the future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common to experience our fully serviced pitches. 🙂