If you are getting ready to get another horse trailer you may wonder what to do with your old one.
Should I trade my horse trailer or sell it?
The short answer to this is that you are usually able to more for your trailer if you sell it. If you trade it in you will get wholesale value, which varies from dealer to dealer, but is not usually what you could sell it for outright. Dealers, being in business, buy their trailers wholesale so that they can make a profit when they resell them. Individual buyers will most likely not be reselling the trailer, so you will come closer to getting what you want for it. (Please keep in mind that this article is discussing trailers that are owned outright, not trailers that are financed and have a payoff.)
Selling your trailer is a matter of deciding what price you want for it, getting the word out, then taking phone calls and/or emails about it until you get it sold. If this sounds like more trouble than you want to go to, you may want to consider trading. Trading can be a benefit to both you and the dealer, or other buyer, if you can come to an agreement that suits you both.
To know if you will be happy trading in your trailer, go through the process of evaluating your trailer for sale before you go to the dealer and talk about trading. Trading in is a much better experience if you have run the figures and have some idea what price range you will be happy with as far as trade value. Since the trade value will vary depending on which trailer you are looking at, the dealer will usually want to know which unit you are interested in before they will know what your trailer is worth to them. They will want to know what you are expecting to get for your trailer. If you have a realistic trade figure already in mind then the whole process can go forward smoothly. You will know immediately if you want to trade in or sell it yourself, and you will be in your new trailer before you know it, without all the heartburn!
To get approximate trade value*, get your hopeful selling or “retail” price by searching the internet for used trailers similar to yours, then subtract 30% from your figure. Wow, 30%? Yes. Using 30% off your retail price will hopefully keep you from getting surprised at the trade price and causing a shock that you have to adjust to while you are working out the deal. Those little, or not so little, shocks are what make the buying process so unpleasant at times. The better prepared you are for the process, hopefully the fewer of those unpleasant moments you have. Life is just too short for that kind of misery.
(*This is just for estimation purposes. Trade price will vary from dealer to dealer and unit to unit on their yards, and depends on how sellable your trailer is on their yard.)
Selling Your Horse Trailer
Ok, I don’t want to trade my trailer in but I have never sold a horse trailer before. What do I do??
To get the best possible price, you need to know the features of your trailer, both good and bad. Here is a checklist that will help you list the features of your trailer.
What is the year, make and model?
Is it a bumper pull or a gooseneck?
Is it steel, aluminum or a combination?
Does it have FRP? (fiberglas reinforced plywood)
Does it have powder-coated steel frame?
Have you had to have work done on the frame?
Does it have tack storage? If yes, where?
Does it have a dressing room?
Does it have living quarters? If yes, how big? Is it factory installed? Is it RVIA-certified?
Does it have extra features like power jack, awning, generator, ramp?
Does everything work as it is supposed to?
Does it have any problems or cosmetic issues? (some examples: bubbly skin on windows/doors-“measles”, surface rust, rust-through, faded paint, peeling graphics, any leaks, soft floor, mold/mildew, odors, structural damage, dings or dents, torn awning, malfunctioning or missing equipment)
Does it need a paint job?
Does it need new tires?
Anything not mentioned here that you think is significant?
Whew! What now?
Now you need to look at prices for trailers that are similar to yours. Notice high and low pricing. Where does your trailer fit price-wise?
What do you like your trailer? Is this a sellable feature?
What do you not like about your trailer? Does this detract from the value?
Why are you getting rid of it?
How soon do you want to sell it? (Is it an urgent sale?)
How much did you pay for the trailer new?
Unfortunately, one question that is not really considered in the pricing process for either sale or trade is, “What did you pay for the trailer?” What you paid is not something that causes the selling price of the trailer to be higher in the minds of the buyers. What affects your selling price is what other trailers similar to yours are selling for, and how soon you have to sell your trailer. If you do not have to get rid of it right away you can price it higher and wait. If it needs to go quickly, price it in the lower range and get it gone.
If you need to get rid of the trailer and get stuck on how much you paid, you will have a miserable selling experience. We have all been there. We hope that we are making the right choice when we purchase, but sometimes it doesn’t translate into a good selling price later.
Horse trailer shoppers are looking for a good deal if they are shopping used horse trailers. Being prepared is the best way to get the most for your trailer.
You need to know what your trailer is worth in the retail market, what you would realistically like to get for it, and just as important, the lowest price you would take for it. If you don’t know your lowest price you may miss a sale trying to decide if the offer is in your price range.
Questions about how to prepare the trailer for sale
- Should I paint my horse trailer to get more money out of it?
The short answer to this is no. You can certainly paint it, but you will not add significantly to the value. The year of the model determines the value more than a new paint job. Having said that, you could get a bit more for it freshly painted but it would most likely not pay for the paint job.
- Should I repair any malfunctioning or equipment?
You should if you are going to include it in the value. If you are not going to repair it, declare it. Tell the buyer it does not work and do not include that option or feature in the price you expect to get.
- How important are pictures?
Good pictures are one of the best ways to be clear about the condition and features of your trailer. Be sure to post pictures of all views of the trailer and just as important, of any feature that could be a deal-killer, like worn out tires, torn awning, dinged fenders, corroded floor boards, horse damage. You get the idea. You will come closer to getting your price if you have shown the good, the bad and the ugly and the buyer does not get surprised when they see it in person. Another very helpful tool is a YouTube video which will allow you to show the features in use, and give a clearer idea of layout.
- How important is cleanliness?
You will come closer to getting your price if your trailer is absolutely sparkling clean, even if it is old and faded. Cleanliness is critical.
- When do I know I have a deal?
If the buyer says, for example, “Will you take $3,000 for it?” and you say, “Yes. Do we have a deal?”and they say “Yes,” you then have a deal on the price. Now you set up the rest of the deal, which includes form of payment and pick up. It is a good idea to get their price in writing. Email or text will work for this. Tell them what form of payment you will accept. “I will take $3,000 for it, cash or cashier’s check only.” It is a good idea to put a timeframe on the deal, such as, “Will you be here this afternoon to get it?” It would be normal for the potential buyer to say his price is based on the trailer being identical to the description they have of it, so be sure you have shown everything about the trailer to avoid price conflicts when they pick up.
- I have three offers on my trailer. What do I do?
A great problem to have! You tell the shoppers that you have 3 offers on the trailer and that whoever gets to you first with the money owns the trailer.
- What forms of payment should I take?
Talk to your bank and see what gives you the best protection.
- What does As Is Where Is mean?
As is Where is means that you are selling the trailer as it is, with absolutely no warranty, and they are going to come and get it. It is very important to give an accurate description and pictures of the trailer as it is, so they know what they are agreeing to. Remove anything that will not be going with the trailer before taking pictures to avoid confusion.
- Should I post my trailer OBO?
OBO–Or Best Offer—posted in addition to a selling price tells the shoppers you really want to get rid of the trailer and are open to offers. This can result in some ridiculously low, or what you may consider insulting offers, but usually will get some kind of response. Unless it is an urgent sale you may want to wait a little while before putting that on your ad. If you have priced it right you may not need it at all.
Up to about 10 years of age horse trailers depreciate pretty rapidly, similar to cars and trucks, but after that point, generally the value stabilizes/depreciation slows. If you compare your trailer to other used horse trailers of the same age and with the same features you will get a good idea of the price range for your trailer’s age.
Options that can help your horse trailer hold its value are power jacks, awnings, ramps, generators, all in good working condition. As far as use and care, the most important things are floor in good condition, minimal rust, minimal driving damage, clean interior with no water damage, minimal horse damage.
Getting your best trade or selling price is a matter of a little research and then setting realistic expectations. With your plan in place your experience hopefully your experience will be as smooth as silk!
This is one way of determining the trade or selling value and is not by any means the only way to go about doing it. Please make your own decision about how you need to handle your trade or sale.