Buying a New or Used Popup Camper

Buying New:

We have bought two popup campers, both new from a dealer.  We tried to buy used, but it took too long, and the quality we found was too low.  Used campers in mint condition at a reasonable price sell in a few days, so you have to keep looking and jump right on the deals when they come and go quickly.  This requires patience, and can be time consuming.

Even if you are planning to buy used, I recommend visiting an excellent dealer to get an education before looking at the used market.  You might be convinced you prefer new.

When buying new the prices are higher so we financed the campers with a home equity loan through our local bank, but then paid it off early.

Buying Used:

Buying used saves you a lot of money on the first year depreciation.  If you can find a camper in mint condition, 1-3 years old, in a short amount of time, you usually find a good deal.

Buying used is best done like buying a used car.  Look on Craig's List in the RV Section and decide how much time you want to invest in looking at used campers.  Many used campers need a lot of work.  The less you pay, the more of a fixer-upper you will have.  A small percentage of people who are very mechanical like to buy a used camper for $300 and fix it up, or restore it.  Most people are not up for that.

Look on NADA.com under RVs for the suggested Private party price as a guide, and to negotiate with the private party.

Tow Vehicle Research:  (Very Important!)
There are many things to research.  The first thing to research is your Tow Vehicle Capacity.  Determine what your Tow Vehicle is capable of towing.  Look in the Owners Manual or online for the towing capacity, and do not buy a camper that exceeds the towing capacity.  You also probably need a strong Class 3 Hitch $200-300 installed, and a Transmission Cooler $50-100 installed, to save your transmission.

Buying Checklists:
There are many checklists for buying Used or New on various owner websites and various Popup Camping Forums.  Here is my favorite, well organized checklist of things to look for when buying  Used, from a Popup Camping Owner Website:

Buy your Second Camper First:
Many people buy a camper and later upgrade, or downgrade, due to lack of research on their first attempt.  So people often advise buy your Second Camper first, by doing adequate research.

Which Brand, Floor Plan, and Dealer should I Choose?
As a Fleetwood owner, I am already biased (not objective) and like the legacy of quality engineering in the Fleetwood/Coleman/Somerset Brand, and the "Sun Valley" style of Floor Plan, as described in detail on this webpage about Our Camper.  I recommend reading these webpages which have many research tips on Floor Plans and Brands.
If you are considering a Fleetwood/Coleman that is a 2006 or older, be sure to research the roof issues they had during those years on this webpage.
My thoughts on other options and comparisons to a Fleetwood / Coleman Sun Valley (my camper) are discussed on this webpage.

Many people who are less picky than myself consider the brand to be not as important as finding and excellent dealer who will provide quality after-purchase service and parts.  There are stories of dealers on forums with low ethics or quality standards to avoid.  Picking an excellent dealer can be more important than the brand.