My parents are big fans of the HGTV show âHouse Hunters.â We thought it would be fun to do a similar treatment about our hunt for a new RV COW (condo on wheels). Weâll call it âCOW Huntersâ and weâll share pictures and information about different COWS we look at until we find just the right one.
COW Depreciation Sucks
We’re looking at buses priced at $250k or less. In 2015, we paid $220k for our 2007 COW, which sold for $700k when it was new.
Our budget is based on the expectation that our COW, which has 90,000 miles and sold new for around $700k in 2007, will fetch $200k in the open market or perhaps $185k as a trade-in. These numbers are the numbers we received from our Country Coach broker in July. We put more than 50,000 miles on the COW since we purchased it in 2015. We estimate we’ll put just as many miles on the next COW. We travel a lot and we like it!
RVs are NOT an investment unless you are an RV flipper (buy wholesale, sell retail). If you use it, and even if you don’t use it but you keep it, you’ll lose money on it. That’s just the way it is. Kind of like cars. RVs do not appreciate in value, nor do they remain steady in value. They decrease… dramatically (our COW, for example, has decreased $50k per year). As investors accustomed to making profits, this fact pains us… a lot. And it’s the reason we’re looking at older, luxury (Prevosts and Newells) COWS that have, hopefully, taken most of the depreciation hit already.
Our Wish List
Just like House Hunters, we have a wish list for our next COW.
Our Current COW
Our current COW is a 2007 Country Coach Magna. We havenât ruled out doing a deep remodel but the 40-foot length, small couch and small windows are things we canât change.Â A serious remodel, however, would really help our home on wheels feel more like a fresh and comfortable place to live. If we do a remodel, we are estimating the cost will be between $15k-$30k, which is considerably less than trading in for a higher-end (not newer) model. So, a remodel is definitely in our minds.
First Stop: Panterra Luxury Coaches
Our first stop is Holland, MI to visit Panterra Luxury Coaches. Panterra is a friendly, small dealership that is a pleasure to visit. Randy showed us seven coaches to view; four sparked our interest.
COW #1: Goldilocks
COW #1 is a 2006 Prevost Country Coach with 74,000 miles, listed for $369k. In 2006, it sold new for $1.3 million. Even at $369k, it’s way over our budget but we’re hopeful with our trade-in and a bit of negotiating, we may be able to slide into this beauty.
Prevosts are buses. Converters, such as Country Coach and Marathon, convert the Prevost to an RV by adding all the features youâd expect in an RV, like a bedroom, a kichen and a bathroom. A lot of bus converters, including Country Coach, went out of business in the 2008 recession. RVs are either bus conversions or are built as RVs. Our Country Coach was built as an RV but Country Coach also performed high end bus conversions. Prevosts are built as buses. Newells, the other brand we are considering, are built as RVs.
Weâre finding that Marathons and Liberties (both companies weathered the recession) hold their value while the other converters seem to depreciate faster. This isnât an issue if you donât put many miles on or you plan to keep the bus for 20 years. Iâm not sure either is the case for us but we’re keeping an open mind.
Goldilocks has just about everything we are looking for, but the $369k price is more than $100k over our budget. It does have two slides (our COW has four). Slides are really nice to have when you are staying in one place for more than a few days.
As far as our wish list, Goldilocks is 45 feet long, has a full-sized couch, a stackable washer/dryer and tile floors.
Weâre surprised we are okay with the âgoldâ cabinetry. Itâs a warm and subtle gold, not a garish gold.
Underbelly Storage is an Issue
There isnât muchÂ storage in the basement. A full bay is taken up by the air conditioning units. In later models, including ours, the a/c units are on top of the bus. Dad is a bit disappointed he wouldnât be able to fit a pull-out grill under the COW.
Frankly, we are star struck with Goldilocks. Itâs a gorgeous COW and we would be quite comfortable living in it. The price, however, is high (even though the original asking price several months ago was $425,000) considering we will take a bit hit on depreciation in the next three years.
Coming Up: The White House
Stay tuned! Next, weâll look at a Newell that seems to have everything we want and is well within our budget!
Let Me Know…
What do you think of Goldilocks? Have you had to make a buy-new-or-remodel decision?