Wednesday, February 29, 2012

# 215 - RV Auctions & Update on Selling the House

First, I wanted to let everyone know that the sign has been in our yard for several days, but the house went official in the market on the night of the 26th for our area. In less than 24 hours, we have agents calling to schedule appointments, which we had requested be made 24-hours in advance. Yesterday, we had two "big-wig" agents show the house to buyer clients. My friend and agent was amazed that we had potential buyers show up so quickly because the market is still depressed. However, I think we're off to a good start. I guess we'll see how the weekend goes.

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Okay --- onto the main topic for today's writing adventure...RV Auctions.

Deputy Dave and I have owned several RV's through the 25-plus years we've been married. The latest RV has a great adventure and story behind it because I discovered that I LOVE auctions!

We had sold the RV that housed us on our acreage and that we used to live in during the reconstruction of our home after Hurricane Ike. We lived in the RV for about seven months as it remained parked in our driveway so that we could be close by during all the work being done at our house. It was tight.

But, we had loved this Springdale RV during our years it was parked on our land. For about three years it sat out there for our visits. During summers, we'd stay on our land for a couple of weeks at a time. My girls would have their friends come out on weekends with us and they would have the added fun of getting to pop up a tent relatively close to our RV, but not too close, and they would tell spooky stories, play flashlight tag and enjoy roughing it with more independence. However, the tent would always be popped within view of the bedroom in our RV, so all I had to do was lift up and look out the window to make sure they were okay. That RV that we used on our land and in our driveway had two bunkbeds, a sofa bed, a drop-table bed and a RV-queen bed "room." It had one slide-out in the living room area that made for a nice spacious RV zone.

However, after the hurricane, I could no longer stomach the RV and was glad when it left our lives. Good riddance!

Soon after, Deputy Dave and I decided to buy another RV, but not for retail price...we decided to go to an auction in the Houston area. It was an excellent decision.

Besides getting the RV for a GREAT price, we had a ball at the auction. We didn't just show up at the auction without knowing what to do, we researched it with great enthusiasm. Also, since we'd been the owners of several RV's, we also knew what to look for...warning signs.

One thing about a scheduled auction, it takes place no matter the weather condition. The area around the RV's can get quite mucky and it was a little funny to see a few women showing up in their cute little sandals that were quickly destroyed with one misstep.

The RV's are lined up in rows and rows.

During the auction a truck drives around and has a tall cab on the back with a window set up in the rear for the auctioneer and his assistant to sit (in air-conditioning) and they simultaneously take live bids in front of them and by phone and on-line.

There are auctioneering ground assistants are mingled in the crowd; their job is to be on the look-out for those of us who are bidding and they shout it out to the guy in the cab of the truck. They start at the front of the parked RV's and make their way to the back.

At the auction we attended, there were hundreds of RV's and this prompted us to make a decision to not get too hung up on the bidding process early in the day. This auction allows you to preview the RV's in the 24-48 hours prior to the auction. On the day of the auction, you go to the little "office" that is set up on the property and you register, get your auction tag to affix to your clothing and a list that displays the basics of the RV...year and model.

An auction means that you get exactly what you pay for, "as is." You have a very limited time-frame to haul it off the property. GET YOUR SELECTION OFF THE LOT AS FAST AS YOU CAN BECAUSE OTHERS WILL STEAL ACCESSORIES OFF YOUR RV IF IT IS LEFT BEHIND FOR TOO LONG. I cannot stress this enough.

I recommend that you remove the RV immediately. It might be very wise to pack a lunch with several snacks, drinks and bring as many lawn-chairs as needed to allow for decent comfort. You might have to sit back for a while to let the lot clear out somewhat, you don't want to fight the congestion.  Granted, the lot will be packed after the auction as dozens or hundreds of truck drivers are navigating  aisles and backing up to hook up their RV to haul. Another tip: don't count on these guys to be on the look-out for people around their vehicle, it's every man-woman for themselves.

For us, we had purchased a Kodiak trailer.

However, we soon discovered, as we readied to haul it off that the hitch was a tad unusual. No one knew anything about it because it was the only Kodiak on the lot. This is when it might be GREAT to have an IPhone or some kind of contraption to do some fast wireless research on the spot. Regardless, we were a nervous wreck when it came time to briefly leave the lot to find an RV store to purchase the proper hitch. I had earnestly wanted to remain at the RV to "guard" it while Deputy Dave ran to the local RV supply store, but you can imagine how that suggestion was received by the Deputy. I think he simply gave me one of those "ARE YOU CRAZY?" kind of expressions.


That said, these things cannot always be pre-planned because you will never be certain, beforehand, of which trailer you will bid upon and win, unless you are a run-away bidder. Don't be a run-away bidder or there will be no sense in attending an auction! The photo below is not the RV we purchased, it was bid upon by several run-away bidders.

Our system involved taking the inventory sheet and determining during our walk-about, prior to the auction, approximate max bids that we'd allow ourselves to make for each RV. In this situation, it's a good thing to have a couple of working PENS or a MECHANICAL PENCIL and an overall working knowledge of the various RV models, so you will know which ones are ordinarily pricey, which ones are a mess to maintain, which ones are in demand, etc., or you might get jilted by ignorance. Take notes, use the star system to mark which RV's should get your attention during auctioning and if you need ahead of the auctioneering truck to the RV's coming up for auction and take a closer look.

We think THIS THE ONE!
As for the hitch problem, upon our return from the RV supply store, we found that the couple next to our RV had been forced to leave as well to get hitch equipment. But, sad for them, they came back to find that their full-sized, double propane tanks had been stolen, along with the cover. That's some expensive equipment. Again, be prepared to protect yourselves at these auctions. Lock your vehicles. The scene at the lot reminded me of a old western movie...everyone is suspiciously eyeing each other and the friendly Southern nature is temporarily missing. The only thing missing was the sound of spurs clinking with each step. It's a mad-house.

During our preview of the RV, we realized that a tire was missing and the entire RV was leaning into the dirt in a lame-manner. For me, as a real estate broker at that time, I got a thrill because such a problem will instantaneously turn away others from the RV.

However, once inside the RV, we discovered that it appeared to have never been used. The stove/oven was still wrapped in the original plastic wrap. I found the brand new owner's manuals in a cupboard, shoved to the back, also still wrapped in their protective covering. The RV's bathroom had the blue protective marketing liners covering the fiberglass...this thing was BRAND NEW. The RV had four bunks in the rear room and a nice RV-Queen sleeping room. Of course, the sofa and table rolled out to accommodate more sleeper. This RV could sleep 11 people, easy.

We made token bids on other RV's beforehand, RV's that we knew we would not win the bid on. This would ensure that eagle-eye fellow bidders would not think that we were suddenly jumping in the game and bidding on an RV that must be "special." During the bidding of this RV, we appeared lack-luster. Do not show any excitement or that will be like throwing a bone to junk-yard dogs. You can actually be bidding while pointing to other potential RV's down the aisle that you haven't reached yet.

And we WON THE BID. We got this 30-foot wide-body, brand-spanking new RV for $4,200. Payment must be given in cashier's check upon purchase. I forget the details in this area, but I'm sure Deputy Dave will remember.

The BEST part of this RV purchase was that we used the RV for months, enjoyed a great camping trip to Livingston State Park, THEN we sold the RV at a consignment lot in Houston (PPL) ready for this?

We sold it for $10,000!

Can you say "HAPPY DANCE?"

So, I think that the Deputy and I pretty much love RV auctions. We're practically pros at this thing. Ha ha.

Auction Tips:

1. Wear galoshes, rubber boots, work gloves or have them in your truck ready to pull out for mucky ground. Also have knee-pads and/or a work mat to work on, just in case.

2. Pack plenty of food, drinks, snacks and lawn-chairs. We could tell that the "lawn-chair people" were true pros at this stuff.

3. Wear comfortable clothes, in layers, if needed.

4. Wear a hat and sunglasses to shield you from the sun.

5. Bring a wide umbrella to sit under for shade during the wait, especially if you are in a Southern state.

6. Don't carry a purse or anything that will cause agony after the first two hours of hauling it around. Like Hulk Hogan, I wear an awesome Fanny Pack!

7. Bring towels and cheap throw-away Ponchos - just in case the weather turns nasty. If you are prepared, you can stand and continue bidding while the others flee for cover. Remember, the auction continues, no matter the weather condition.

8. Tools galore and hitches, whatever you have on hand. You'll be on your own, so be prepared.

9. In your truck bed, bring along a few old boards and maybe a cement block or two to keep the RV stable for any work that you need to do before hauling it off. Of course, bring duct-tape too, just in case there is something flapping on the RV that needs tightening on the of the window frames came loose in our travels to our house, it began to separate and Deputy Dave just taped it down until he could properly reset it later and re-caulk it.

10. Always conduct a thorough check of everything before leaving.

I can tell you that the first few RV's up for auction will prove that there are fools in this world. Usually, the big-name, frilly RV's are put upfront. The badly damaged stinkeroos are more toward the center and back of the auction...sold mostly for spare parts. As for the high-rollers, let those bidders spend their money and time on the pretty, shiny RV's while you search for something that has a definite, obvious problem to fix, but not something that would have lasting damage or be too expensive to repair. For us, we needed a new tire and a proper hitch.

Check the RV for:

1. Damage - make a list, if it's a contender - have a good idea of what you're getting into.

2. Mold and Water Damage, if it is too noxious, forget it. If there is a little damage that is caused by a minor leak and is superficial, then don't be afraid.

3. Realize that other bidders will set-up "problems" that are fake to sway other bidders from being aware and careful to note actual problems and set-up problems.

4. Foam bedding being absent is no big deal. You can buy those from a fabric shop or another source for a good price. If multiple foam beds are missing, then buy the larger size and cut it down for your needs and cover them with cheap twin sheets for a presentable, consistent appearance.

5. Dirt can be cleaned, don't be turned away by simple dirt. People will be going in and out of these RV's and dirt is a given, especially in bad weather.

6. Keys might be found in the RV, but are usually taken or hidden by other bidders. Some people take duct tape and hide the keys at the underside of the drawer.

7. If you walk into an RV that you are considering, don't be intimidated by the five people looking inside of it as well...and don't listen to their grumblings about what a "horrible" RV this is because fellow bidders fight dirty and will do anything they can to make you disinterested in the RV you find interesting.

8. Check for existence of air-conditioning units, furnace, piping for plumbing and wiring check. You won't be able to conduct a detailed inspection, but know your basic stuff. Deputy Dave always climbs to the roof to do an inspection, but he's a monkey.

Okay, that's it for today's little lesson that has helped us tremendously with our acreage and with our own need for an RV. It appears that we will be going through this process again very soon so that we can find an RV to house us during the construction of our cabin. I do hope we find an RV that is a steal again. That would be nice.

Regardless, auctions can be a night-mare experience. It's a risk. You never know what you might find and what hidden faults might be lurking. Okay...okay...just don't show up at my next auction with my own tips to use as a competitor!

It's getting dark, gotta get outta here!
Deputy Dave and I will be the ones with the lawnchairs, the ice-chest, cold beer, Dr. Pepper and a couple of good books. And yes, you should have a buddy similar to Smith & Wesson close by in this kind of environment.

But, I'm from Texas and we always think a six-shooter is a good buddy to snuggle up next to or a semi-automatic. Just saying...

Spurs might be a nice touch as well.


A Primitive Homestead said...

I have really only looked at RVs at some shows. Amazed at how much is in them. You got an amazing deal on your last RV from the prices I have seen in my state. I hope you find a very nice one with a deal again. I have at times considered it might be a good idea for my 5 acre property. Blessings!

LindaG said...

You lucked out for sure. And good luck if you're doing that again.
I couldn't do it. Wouldn't do it.
I don't like being around people that steal stuff like that.

And good luck with the house sale! said...

Note: Deputy Dave said you have to bring cash and pay a $500 refundable deposit to even participate in the auction. You get your bidding tag only after you register and put down your $500 bucks. And it might behoove the bidders to know that the working crew for the auction is in high-gear motion to get their stuffed packed up and out of there before the crowd can get too crazy with trying to get their RV's out of there. I guess they don't want to be present for any of the problems that might come with winning bidders trying to vacate the lot. That part was shocking to me as well, I thought they'd provide some sort of employees to continue walking sir...they feel as if the job is done and they are GONE.

Lara - Deputy Dave and I love to go to the RV shows, especially so we can learn about the latest changes in RV construction and layout. We also get an update lesson in name-brands and their pricing. But, going to an auction is definitely the way we'll be buying our future RV's.

Linda - There were so many good deals at the auction yard, but you've got to be prepared for everything. I was shocked to find those people with their tanks stolen, I felt so bad for them and so fortunate at the same time that nothing was stolen on ours. You can bet that once they told us they had something stolen, we were RUNNING around our RV to check it out for anything that had suddenly went missing. The RV next to those people had been pulled away and we wondered if it had been those people. Who knows. Not a case where there's anything to be done about it. But, we now know to watch out.