So you want to RV full time! Good for you! Do it! Do it now and don’t look back! But buy the rig before you give up your residence. Getting an RV loan as a full timer isn’t quite as straight forward as I expected and don’t expect to get the same rates as your stick and brick brothers and sisters get.
I’m one of those who always paid my bills on time and saved while I watched my friends buying jet skis. In Aesop’s fable of the grasshopper and the ant, I was the ant. So when we fell in love with the layout of the Fleetwood Southwind 36P, I expected to just waltz in with my trade in and my high credit rating and score a twenty year loan near the low mortgage rates, right? I mean a lifetime of following the rules and building a credit rating should get me something! Well, it did – sort of. What it got me was the ability to get the loan at all, but certainly not at the rates I wanted.
Now, as I type that last sentence I hear Mick Jagger in my head reminding me that you can’t always get what you want….but you get what you need! Which in this case was a loan. Which I got. But let me tell you what to expect.
First of all most lenders won’t even write a note to full timers. Period. Banks and bankers who I have had long relationships with and who handled, let’s just say, alot of my money, all said they couldn’t offer a loan. Its all about collateral. Like most things in life it comes down to a morals lesson and a reminder that those who don’t have them ruin opportunities for the rest of us.
So in essence I am asking them to loan me six figures over 20 years, just like a house, except that I can take the house wherever I want to and they have no idea where I am. Maybe I’ll take it to Mexico – and stop paying. Maybe I’ll just stop paying and skip from state to state every time they begin repossession procedures. They find me in Missouri, try to repo it and I just drive over the border to Kansas and they have to start again.
When this was explained to me by the loan officer I was floored that people would do this, but I shouldn’t be, I mean, I’ve met people. We Ant’s often can’t even imagine what the grasshopper might do.
So I did find that Good Sam Financial worked with several banks that do write loans to full timers, but you pay an extra point or two depending on your credit rating and the timing of the loan. We chose Bank of the West and have had a great experience with them. Do plan on having to put a handful of cash down to put some skin in the game. Do plan on having to produce lots of references and information about family members so they can hunt you down. In our case we had to show documentation that we were members of an RV Park where we winter. There are lots of members only parks, many through Escapees, where you can buy a lot, or own a membership. We already had this, so I can’t say what would have happened had we not owned it, but I think it helped.
I also learned that the RV Dealer is NOT going to get you the best loan, they are going to get the loan with the companies with whom it is in their best interest to work with. Get on the phone with Good Sam Financial or Bank of the West, to name a few, and try to get a better deal. I saved tens of thousands doing this and I didn’t even realize how bad a deal the dealer was offering until a week before. You can find your own loan and even if it sets you back a few weeks, go find a better deal!
Other than that, it was a normal loan process. Proof of income sources, last several bank statements, bend over and cough, the usual. So, going to sell the house? Get the loan first, assuming your finances can support it. Already full time and want to get a new rig? Well, expect some of what I describe above, roll with them punches and remember how lucky you are to live this life!