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Old 06-10-2008, 11:42 AM   #1
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Economy, Fuel Prices and SMB Resale Values

I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz lately that higher fuel prices have been drastically lowering the resale and trade in values of light duty trucks, SUVs (and probably RVs). Consumer confidence is likely playing a role as well.

I’m curious if anyone has noticed or been noticing a drastic change in resale values of SMBs over the last year versus what they would have been a year or so ago? Or, do you think things will hold steady because SMB ownership is such a niche market? If resale values are declining, how do you think this will affect the SMB world??

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Old 06-10-2008, 03:19 PM   #2
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I think there are a multitude of factors in the market concerning pricing and the number of used Sportsmobiles available currently. I had been looking at the used section at Sportsmobile West for years hoping to get a nice one at a price that worked for us. I finally got it the end of January, 2008. I have seen a few since then at nearly the same price, year, mileage, condition. And judging by the number of quality used Sportsmobiles listed currently at SMB West, one would thing that prices have come down a bit. However, there are many on the website priced on the very high end. I think there will always be a market for used Sportsmobiles because so few are made each year and the price of new ones keep going up. The days of getting as much as a new one for a used one may be gone for now, but if you watch the site, they come and go each week. Sportsmobiles certainly offer the ability to explore the back country in a way that no motor home will do, and the Sportsmobiles get better fuel economy than the larger motor homes. We are certainly glad we got one now, and we have put over 4,000 miles on it since we got it back from Salem Kroger the end of April. My advice for anyone sitting on the fence of whether to buy now or not would be to just get it and start enjoying it. oclv

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Old 06-10-2008, 06:23 PM   #3
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SMBs are a different beast than other diesel trucks or RVs. SMBs are more like terrestrial sailboats than pickups or RVs. They can go nearly anywhere on land in western North America that you would want to. You (me included) buy them for this freedom of movement, not necessarily for their instant resale value.

That said, I think a lot of people buy them new, fully loaded with all the goodies, and then decide that they are not really what they want. Other SMB purchasers have a major change of life, a new job in a distant location for example, and decide to sell them faster than they thought. As a result, you see 20-30 newer used SMBs up on the Sportsmobile West web site.

We never thought much of resale value two years ago when we bought ours, but concentrated on the ability to get out in nature quickly and often. We've spent 70 nights in Sporty in a year and half of ownership and haven't regretted the purchase at all, even with the higher price of diesel.
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:44 PM   #4
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I like your description of the SMB as terrestrial sail boat alot more than land yacht or assault vehicle. Yesterday someone asked me if it was a prison van. Sheesh.
However---even my mom (RV full timer in the early 70's) asked me if I had any regrets. I guess the answer is the only thing I wish was different was that when I was haunting the SMB "pre-owned" section last year at this time, there had been such a rich selection of choices as there is now. There wasn't and I wound up buying new, did my best to put down as much as possible, but even so, I will be paying for a very long time. (Is it possible to re-finance a vehicle?)
BUT, I love my van. It will serve it's purpose if my mom and I have to evacuate for a hurricane and, in the meantime, I'm learning and looking forward to all the roads between here and CA when I make my next trip.

Not exactly the cost of diesel be damned, but there are worse problems.
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:54 PM   #5
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We will hopefully be purchasing a SMB within a year, but I can't help but wonder why there are so many used SMB's that are only a year or two old with very few miles. Is it just not what they thought it was? Didn't use it enough? Quality? It just seems strange.
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:05 PM   #6
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As long as SMB holds a monopoly on this type of van, the resale prices will be good.

For Class A and C, new and used prices dropped. SMB new prices will not drop, used prices will maintain value

Think of all those Westy's out there...can't get them anymore. Roadtrek and SMB will continue to sell well to replace them.
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:13 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by saline
We will hopefully be purchasing a SMB within a year, but I can't help but wonder why there are so many used SMB's that are only a year or two old with very few miles. Is it just not what they thought it was? Didn't use it enough? Quality? It just seems strange.
It is fuel prices, plain and simple. Some SMB buyers are price insensitive, and in that sense the SMB is certainly a niche market. But I'd guess that the majority, or at least a significant minority, are not. U.S. unit sales of all SUVs/pickup trucks are down 30% over the past year, and a whopping 26% since January 08 (data through May 08). SMBs may have some buffer because they are unique, but no way can they be immune to these broader trends. All prices are set at the margin, and with diesel/gas prices up 47% over the past year ($2.95 ==> $4.33), a lot of owners no doubt find the cost/benefit analysis no longer works for them.....hence a glut of used SMBs for sale.

What happens to prices is harder to assess because we'll never know at what price most sales are taking place. And the market for full size RVs has been devastated and probably pushed some prospective buyers into the SMB market. But on balance I'd have to guess that prices are weaker.

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Old 06-10-2008, 09:38 PM   #8
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You can eliminate quality as why someone would get RID of a SMB.
I think many people are worried about the economy, fuel is going up and if they're anticipating job change, a move, kids headed for college or just scaling down, selling a huge van with maybe a huge loan connected to it might be a first step to less anxiety.
I agree, though, that these are specialty vehicles and there will always be folks who want one and have done the homework to justify the cost, will REALLY use it, and will purchase the used SMB's that are available.

Anyway, that's what I tell myself when I'm tossing and turning in the middle of the night!
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:51 PM   #9
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Here are my $.02. I think that considering the state of the economy and houseing market, if someone is selling their Sportsmobile, we shouldn't necessarily assume that they are dissatisfied. Lets face it a Sportsmobile is a luxury and a very expensive one at that. I am sure some of the Sportsmobiles listed on the SMB West website are there because people are being forced to sell them for financial reasons, other than the price of fuel.

We will be picking up our new Sportsmobile in a little under two weeks and I hope it lives up to our expectations. While I wish the price of fuel was lower if you consider driving a Sportmobile on vacation versus flying and staying in a resort hotel the Sportsmobile is still a bargin (excluding purchase cost.)

Either way our last camping rig was a teardrop trialer pulled behind my Jeep Wranagler and with that I only managed 14-15 miles per gallon. We are expecting our Sportsmobile to do about the same and the extra cost of the diesel over gas is worth it for the tons of extra room not to mention the other amenities that the Sportsmobile will give us.

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Old 06-10-2008, 09:55 PM   #10
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I think part of it it is also the fact that there are a bunch of new SMB owners living the American dream and financing everything to the hilt and they are feeling the fuel price crunch in a big way. They bought/financed back when fuel was a bunch cheaper and they flat out cannot afford the vans now, let alone barely being able to afford them when gas was cheaper. Just look at the increase in home foreclosures, there are so many people out there living way beyond their means....

Personally I am proud to say that we have been able to pay off our van, we don't carry any debt other than our home and I am lucky to have a profession which hasn't been too affected by the current state of the economy.

I absolutely love driving it whenever I can but I have to admit, I have been a little pickier about the longer trips we take in it. If I truly do not need the van on a work trip I will probably take our little Element and enjoy 24+mpg vs 12-13mpg.



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