Unlike when selling a car or a standard van that hasn’t been converted, selling a custom camper van conversion, especially a DIY build, can take more work and preparation so you have all the information available to share with a potential buyer to help them with their buying decision.
But what do you actually need to do to sell your van successful? That’s where this checklist comes in. This handy, comprehensive checklist contains what you should know and do to help sell your camper van, and achieve a good price for it in the process.
Preparing Your Camper Van for Sale
Here are some practical steps to take before you start advertising your camper van for sale.
1. Emptying Your Van’s Contents and Doing a Deep Clean
Empty your van of personal items that aren’t included with the sale, then clean the interior and exterior.
Cleaning your van ready for selling includes washing, waxing, vacuuming, and cleaning all surfaces and storage areas. Don’t forget the roof!
2. Maintenance and Repairs
Ensure all mechanical components are in good working order. Fix any issues with the engine, brakes, lights, and other essential systems.
Make sure all the camper-specific features (like the bed, kitchenette, etc.) are functional.
3. Gather Maintenance Records
Compile a file of all service and maintenance records to show prospective buyers the van has been well-cared-for, and ensure you are up to date with the van’s maintenance.
4. Get a Vehicle Inspection
Consider getting a professional inspection to identify any potential issues and to assure buyers of the van’s condition.
This could well be worth the time and cost to be able to present your van for sale in a way to give potential buyers a lot of confidence in the condition of the van, which should help get a quicker sale and maybe even a better price.
5. Photograph the Van
Take clear, high-quality photos from multiple angles, both inside and outside, and of any unique features or add-ons. For the purpose of producing these photos you may want to include some accessories to help ‘show’ the vehicle as it may be used (like staging a house!) but be clear in your listing what staging items are not included in the sale.
To take it a step further, considering doing a video walkthrough of your van. This could help attract potential buyers, including those who may be willing to travel from further afield to come and see it.
6. Obtain other documentation needed for a sale
Look up what documentation is required by the DMV or your country’s vehicle registration authority in order for a sale to take effect.
For example, in my state of California, as the seller of a Sprinter van I was required to get a Smog Check done on the vehicle so I could give the certificate to the buyer – this is needed for the buyer to be able to register the vehicle.
Documentation and Information
1. Title and Registration
Ensure you have the title and that it’s clear of any liens, which may exist if you financed the vehicle when you bought it, for example. The registration should be up to date.
2. Carfax Report
Obtain a Carfax report (or equivalent in your country) to provide transparency about the van’s history.
3. Write a Detailed Description
Include your camper van’s make, model, year, mileage, features, any upgrades or modifications, maintenance history, number of past owners, and any unique selling points.
It will really help potential buyers if you can be as clear and specific as possible about what was done to your van to convert it, who by, when, and what brands of equipment and components have been used to create key systems such as the electrical system, as well as appliances like the refrigerator, heater and cooking equipment.
4. Prepare to provide build details and costs
For transparency to your potential buyers, decide how much information you will provide them with regarding what you spent on your van conversion.
I tracked our entire camper van build costs in a spreadsheet, with details of all costs, where equipment was purchased from and when the work was done.
I also tracked the weight distribution within the vehicle (front to back, drivers vs. passenger side), and we had the vehicle weighed after the conversion to provide an accurate weight (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, or GVWR) which a buyer may want to know, or need for registration or insurance purposes.
I ultimately gave all this information to the buyer of our van.
5. Set a Fair Price
Research similar models’ pricing to set a competitive and fair price. Consider the van’s condition, mileage, and any additional features.
This can be a little tricky, especially when pricing a customer camper van – especially because you don’t necessarily know that other sellers will obtain anything close to the selling price they’re advertising, if their vehicle sells!
It helps to first value the vehicle itself. For example, if you have a 2019 Mercedes Sprinter Van with a 144 wheelbase and rear wheel drive, you can look up this vehicle profile on the Kelley Blue Book website (in the US) to get an idea of the vehicle’s value – or just use the VIN to get a more specific valuation.
Kelley Blue Book is a widely accepted reference point used in the US vehicle industry to value motor vehicles. Many other countries have equivalents.
Once you have a value for your van (excluding the conversion), you can look at what you spent on the conversion itself, to assess what it’s worth, depending on the age of the conversion and the equipment in your van.
Then it’s ‘just’ a case of adding the two together, and assessing whether that total price seems a fair reflection of the market value of your camper van. Not easy, I know!
Preparing for Buyer Interactions
1. Be Ready to Answer Questions
Expect questions about the van’s history, condition, mileage, and your reasons for selling. For a more detailed list of potential questions, read our guide to buying a used camper van.
Potential buyers may also inquire about your ability to get insurance on a custom van conversion, especially if it was self-built, so be ready to give them some helpful insights on that subject, too.
2. Plan for Test Drives
Decide on a safe route for test drives. If you are prepared to let others drive your van, ensure your insurance covers it.
Personally, when I sold my van I drove potential buyers around in it rather than allowing them to drive it themselves, and everyone who came on a test drive was perfectly fine with that arrangement.
3. Know What Payment Forms You’ll Accept
Decide in advance what forms of payment you’ll accept (cash, bank transfer, etc.), and inform potential buyers.
Remember to always ensure the buyer’s payment has cleared your bank account before handing over the vehicle.
This is especially true for checks (definitely personal checks, but even cashier’s checks in some cases), which can be canceled even after you’ve made the deposit, but may also apply to other forms of payment such as ACH or wire transfers – yes, even wire transfers.
4. Sales Agreement
Prepare a bill of sale or sales agreement to finalize the transaction.
In terms of what is required here, it’s important to check your local laws and requirements, as the specifics of what needs to be included in a vehicle bill of sale can vary. In some places, a generic bill of sale form might be sufficient, while others may require a state-specific form.
Information to include on a bill of sale may include:
- Date of Sale
- Seller’s Information: Full name, address, and contact details of the seller
- Buyer’s Information: Full name, address, and contact details of the buyer
- Vehicle Details: Make, model, and year of the vehicle, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), current mileage on the odometer at the time of sale, color and body type
- Sale Price: The total purchase price agreed upon by both parties
- Payment Details: Outline the payment method (cash, check, etc.), payment terms if applicable (such as a deposit followed by a final payment), and any agreement about who is responsible for applicable taxes or fees.
- As-Is Clause: A statement that the vehicle is sold “as-is” without any warranties regarding its condition, unless otherwise specified. This is intended to protect the seller from future claims by the buyer about the vehicle’s condition
- Warranties or Guarantees: If any warranties are to be included with the sale, they should be clearly detailed, including the duration and what is covered
- Signatures of buyer and seller
Always ensure that both the buyer and the seller keep a copy of the signed bill of sale for their records.
I would recommend focusing your advertising efforts on specialist marketplaces and through more exclusive groups of people including word of mouth, camper and RV shows, rather than advertising your vehicle on a general online marketplace like Craigslist, eBay or Facebook Marketplace, which is why those platforms are not listed below.
In my experience, the generic marketplaces are rife with scammers and time-wasters and you’re unlikely to find a suitable buyer – although of course there are also genuine buyers on there, but they’re harder to spot amid all the ‘noise’.
Someone who’s serious about spending a significant amount of money on a camper van is also likely to be browsing the more focused niche sales platforms, that are free for buyers to use, to find the type of van they’re searching for.
As the seller you’ll likely have to pay a listing fee to advertise your camper van the specialized platforms, however this is relatively small amount in the context of selling a van worth thousands and should be worth your while if i means you find the right buyer.
- Specialized Camper Van Sales Platforms: Utilize platforms like RV Trader and Vanviewer, which cater specifically to buyers and sellers of camper vans and RVs.
- Social Media: While I suggest avoiding Facebook Marketplace more generally, you may find some success in advertising your van on specialized Facebook groups for camper van enthusiasts.
- Word of Mouth: Inform friends, family, and acquaintances about the sale. Networking can be surprisingly effective.
- Camper and RV Shows: Attend local RV shows or camper meet-ups where you can showcase your van to a targeted audience.
1. Negotiate the Sale
Be prepared to negotiate the price with potential buyers, remembering that other vans you’ve seen advertised for sale for high prices may not have sold… and if they did, they may have sold for significantly less than what the seller was initially asking for!
2. Finalize the Sale
Complete the bill of sale, transfer the title, and provide they keys and all necessary documentation to the buyer.
3. Cancel Insurance
Once the sale is complete, remember to cancel your insurance policy! You should also research whether its possible to get a refund on any remaining months of registration you’ve paid for the vehicle and will no longer require.
4. Tell DMV you sold your camper van
Inform your local DMV of the sale to avoid future liabilities – if your van gets financed or involved in an accident you don’t want to get caught up in any of the associated proceedings! The DMV form usually called Notice of Sale or Transfer, or something similiar.