Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Roadrunner Reflections - How We Sold it - Part 2 - The German Connection

This is the second of three parts describing Pam and I came to the decision to sell our motorhome - The Roadrunner:
Today we discuss how we agreed to sell it to Mike who was in Germany.
From July and into the fall, we continued our travels.  We left Williamsburg, VA and headed to  the Northeast.  We had stops at West Point, NY (it's a great place to visit and they have a terrific museum and Visitor Center), then made our way over to the Hudson River Valley before continuing on to Bar Harbor, ME/Acadia National Park and the state capitols of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine.

After we left the Northeast, we continued planning for the sale of the Roadrunner and decided on another trip to Key West.  We were thinking we’d stay there for a few weeks before working our way up through Florida. Then, we were planning on putting it up for sale in the same town as the Tiffin Motorhome factory - Red Bay.  Red Bay is in the very northwest corner of Alabama.

We were targeting April to have it cleaned up and ready to go.
But things began happening sooner than we expected...

Initial contact with a buyer.
I looked back and it was December 31, 2018 when I got an email from our friends Dave and Pattie.  They had a Tiffin motorhome that was the same year, make, and model as ours and had just sold it.  Dave indicated a couple more folks had been interested in his and he asked if I wanted their contact information.

I said sure and and then I emailed both interested parties.

One (Mike) was definitely interested.   The other fellow was looking for a fire sale which didn't pan out.  Our back and forth emailing was happening over the course of the first few weeks in January when we were enjoying time in Key West.

Knowing this might be our last winter in the Roadrunner, we planned on being there in December and stayed a few weeks.  We concentrated on splitting our time between hanging out with friends, seeing favorite places again,  and cleaning the coach.  It was a relatively stress-free game plan.

Our time in Key West was another memorable one because we met up with three other couples and had special times with each of them.  That year was a little warmer than our three previous visits to Key West. That meant the weather really great, and we had time to play tourist, hang out and do the things we like to do there.  One of my favorites is a daily bike ride around the island which is 13.1 miles from our campground.  I remember we also saw the Hemingway House again, the Key West Lighthouse, the Harry S. Truman’s Little White House, and participated in the annual Key West Open House Tour, seeing some $$$ homes.  Not for us, but very interesting nonetheless.

And we systematically started cleaning the coach again. We took off all the screens and hosed them down and washed them.  I did some touch up painting on the front steps and the Blue Ox tow bar, plus washed and waxed it good. Then I washed and waxed the Roadrunner inch-by-inch.  I never minded the washing and waxing.  It was good exercise and the price was right.  It usually took 3-4 days to get it done and this time was no different.

I have very fond memories of that specific visit to Key West as we were fielding questions and sending pictures of the Roadrunner to Mike.

It is always interesting when these possibilities happen when you are trying to sell your “house."  You don’t want to get ahead of yourself and I'm more likely to fight the feeling and daily remind myself, “Selling this motorhome is a long shot. It may may take a long time to get the price we want and to find the right buyer.  Patience. Be patient.”

As I was saying, Mike and I immediately developed a good dialogue and were in contact 2-3 times a week with texts and then emails.  I think I sent about 75 photos so he could get a good idea of the layout and what we had going on inside, outside, and on top of the Roadrunner.

I found out that Mike had previously owned a Class C and had lived in Alaska.  Both those events were coming in to play again.  In our emails back and forth I could tell he knew what he was looking for.  He had questions about how the unit drove and was doing some research on sway bars to see if they were needed in the Roadrunner.  He also asked if we had washer/dryer set up.  We did not, opting instead to have the storage space.  But we had the plumbing in place and I sent him pictures of where it was located and how it was set up.

After about half a dozen emails going back and forth Pam and I could quickly tell Mike was a serious possibility.  We began discussing how to make this happen.  Mike had an interesting situation that unfolded over the following month.

An out of country phone number.
As we corresponded, I noticed a different area code and country code from his text messages.  Bells went off and I became a little cautious so I asked him why the out of country number.  (One can't be too careful about such things and it pays off to ask questions early.)  He explained that he retired from the military and was working as a civilian overseas in Germany. We were relieved it all made sense and we continued to engage with Mike.

Since he was in Germany, he would have to fly to Florida and complete the transaction of buying the coach there,  if everything panned out.  He worked out a plan to store it until May and then he and his wife Joan were going to drive it to Alaska where they would be living.  Finding a place to store it proved to be a bit nerve wracking for a few days.  At first he was was thinking of buying it in Florida and then driving it to Georgia and leave it parked for a for a few months where his family could keep it for him.

We looked at the weather and knew that it could get pretty cold in Georgia in the early spring and even dip into freezing temperatures.  Also, we wondered if he was going to keep in plugged in or if he was going to winterize it and leave it parked.

Leaving the Roadrunner for a long period of time (months) and storing it, were two items Pam and I didn't know anything about.  The more we all talked, Mike decided to find an RV storage facility where it could be stored and plugged in to 50 amp power.

By the middle of January, we had left Key West and had made or way up to MacDill AFB FamCamp in Tampa. We were doing what we normally do at that time of year there and went to the Tampa RV show.  I remember we were there and got a text from Mike who basically said, "Yikes! I've looked for an indoor storage place for the past couple of days and 15 places along I-95 are full!"  Whoops.

My first thought was -- maybe this deal would not work out after all?  (Getting a little ahead of myself!) We both made a few phone calls and learned he still had options.  He could store it on a lot near Jacksonville near the base but it would basically be in the open with other boats and RVs.  It was still out in the open, but the weather was not likely to get down into freezing temperatures.  He could also winterize it (drain the tanks and water lines etc) if he wanted to go that route.

As we were looking into other options, he called back and said he had found a storage facility place east of Atlanta.  It turned out to be a good one.  It was a large indoor facility, and the folks there would regularly start the engine (once a week?  a month? -- can't remember) and it could be plugged in 100% of the time.

Another obstacle overcome.

This sale possibility was moving along swimmingly, but we hadn’t really gotten down to the actual specifics.

Time to talk turkey.
We'd only been talking a few weeks and we were getting into specifics.  I thought that this is great --- but things could still go sideways, we need to talk about the money.  We were asking $105K. ($100K was our bottom line - so to speak.)  We knew we had a couple of things going against us, namely the fact the Roadrunner was 10 years old and it had 133,000 miles on it.  133,000 miles isn't that much on a car or truck, but for a motorhome, I'd said it was a lot.

Good friends Bruce and Melody offered to let us put the Roadrunner on their lot in Red Bay and we talked to an RV broker friend of theirs. He said he didn't mess with any motorhomes over 5 years old or ones that had over 50,000 miles.  Hmmm.

Nice to know -- but we were outside of both those parameters by a long shot.  He noted Blue Book said our unit was worth about $85,000 - $88,000 and that the only thing dealers/brokers look at is age and miles on RVs. Whoa.

But what about all the upgrades, and modifications, and maintenance and upkeep?? "Only age and miles".   He said everyone says there's has been well taken care of, runs great, yada yada yada.
A couple of things were in our favor and I think justified our asking price.  We had in fact taken care of the Roadrunner and had a residential refrigerator, new MCD and RollEZE shades vs curtains, $700
x 6 RV tires 1 year old, and all our maintenance records.  Our friend with the same make and model as ours had sold his for more than what we were asking.  So we decided to stick to our price and see what happens.  His had significantly less miles than ours, but we felt it still was worth about the same price.

Gladly, when I we had the "purchase price conversation" we ended up at $100,000 and he said he was OK with that!  He asked if we could install a washer/dryer.  I said we couldn't do that, but we could help him with transportation and delivery of the motorhome to his storage place near Atlanta after the purchase.

Older motorhomes come in various states of operational maintenance and my guess is that Mike had seen a lot of different older vehicles and he had a pretty good idea of what he was looking for.  We were asking more than Blue Book value which was about $85K.  But Blue Book value is a guide and not the only metric to use.

We thought we had put a lot of money into the Roadrunner over the years so it remained in a high operational state.  We didn't shy away from spending a few more dollars to keep the maintenance up and we thought it was a good idea to update the rig with lots of operational and living enhancements.  So we felt we could make the case it was worth at least $100K.

The two biggest things that were going against that were the age (10 years old) and the high mileage (133,000).  133,000 doesn't seem like a lot of miles on a car, but for an RV it is getting up there.  I spoke with a broker that did not deal in units that were over 5 years old and had over 50,000 miles.  But we stayed with it and Mike agreed to the price.

As we progressed in our discussions we were more excited about the possibility.  But we knew it was  still that -- only a possibility until we signed the paperwork and transferred the money.

We will talk more about that next time in Part 3 - How it all came together.

Thanks for joining us together on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

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