Insider RV Financing and Loan Rate Strategies
Many people who contemplate financing an RV, or any other high-ticket item such as a boat or private aircraft, are intimidated by the length of the financing term needed for an acceptable payment. Typical financing terms are 10 to 20 years, with 15 years being the most common.
Some consumers choose a shorter financing term and a higher payment simply because of their fear of the longer-term commitment. Even though they obviously know RV owners rarely, if ever, keep an RV for the entire term of their financing; they choose a shorter loan term. They unnecessarily strap themselves to a higher payment that could strain their budget - should illness, unemployment or other hard times take place.
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Most buyers choose the longest term available to secure the lowest payment possible - even though they could afford much more. They pay more interest than principal during most, if not all of their actual loan period, and wind up in an "upside-down" position.
In other words, the remaining payoff on their loan is much more than the actual value of their unit when the time comes to trade or sell their RV.
A Hybrid RV Loan System
Savvy RV buyers use a "Hybrid" type of financing system to get the best of both worlds. They finance the RV for the longest term available for the loan amount, which makes the payment lower than they can actually afford.
During the loan, they make the monthly payment PLUS an additional amount, which is directly subtracted from the principal amount of the loan.
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When this approach is followed with a good degree of discipline, it can lower the "effective" interest rate to as much as half the original rate - as well as dramatically shortening the length of the loan term.
It also allows the most flexibility. Should the borrower face a situation where times are rough or money is tight, they still have the luxury of making the lowest payment possible.
An Example of a $50,000 Loan
Interest Rate - 5.25%
Term in Years - 15 years
Payment Amount - $428
Total Interest Paid - $27,168
If this person added $50 to each monthly payment, he would change the repayment terms to:
Effective Interest - 4.64%
Loan Term in Years - 12.63 years
Total Interest Paid - $22,418
TTL Interest Savings - $4,750
Now let's assume that this person added $150 to the monthly payment.
Effective Interest - 2.62%
Loan Term in Years - 8 years
Total Interest Paid - $5,487
TTL Interest Savings - $21,681
The example above is ONLY on a loan of $50,000. Imagine the savings if this strategy was applied to an RV loan of $100,000 or more! It is all about planning, application, and discipline. But, if he happens to miss a few months, he just saves a little less.
What's the Bottom Line?
Comparing our last example of a consumer applying a hybrid system - to an individual who took out an 8-year loan upon purchasing the same RV... The hybrid system would have saved nearly 4% in interest over an actual 8-year loan term.
By shortening your loan term from 15 years to roughly 8 years, he would have saved over $21,000 in interest. He has also reduced the "effective" interest rate to less than 3%.
Plus, the buyer has paid off a 15-year loan in about 8 years! Even if he misses a few months of additional principal payments, he will still have saved thousands of dollars in finance charges.
The additional $150 per month added to principal has saved about $78 per month over choosing an 8-year initial loan term. That equates to about $7,500 savings in payment amount over the course of the loan.
What if I Don't Make the Additional RV Finance Payment?
The key to making a hybrid payment system work - is discipline. You must make the additional principal payment every month, or very close to it. You should be certain your scheduled payment amount plus any additional amount you plan to add toward principal is within your budget.
Even if you intend to use a hybrid payment system, but never add an additional penny to the principal loan amount, you will have simply paid off your loan, in the same manner, the majority of RV financing buyers choose.
RV Shopping and Financing Online
The "ritual" of shopping for a new RV or Boat, and even recreational vehicle financing, has changed dramatically in the last decade - especially within the last 5 to 8 years. Gone are the days of driving hundreds of miles, from dealership to dealership; always at the mercy of time and distance - and the pressure of the sales office.
Granted, the Internet has been in fairly common use since the early 90's, but only in the last few years have we seen the majority of Recreational Vehicle buyers doing most all of their most focused and "actual purchase" related research and shopping without driving a mile. They are doing their homework at home, (and at work), on the Internet.
In the earlier days of the Internet, potential buyers had been slow to embrace major purchases, such as RVs and Boats - especially without seeing and inspecting the unit in person. But, smaller online transactions on websites like Amazon.com, eBay.com and other increasingly popular web-shopping sites, have increased consumer confidence and slowly matured into much larger and more expensive online purchases.
With the introduction of eBay Motors in the early 2000's, people began buying and selling all types of motorized vehicles, but the sale and purchase numbers for RVs grew faster than anyone had anticipated. By 2004, the search term "RV" was in the top 10 search terms on the (relatively new at that time), search engine Google.
In the following years more and more people began using the Internet to search for "Bargains", and the numbers of RV buyers and sellers have increased exponentially, year after year. Our experience has shown that online RV sales and online financing to be increasing even faster than expected.
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Today, the "new generation" of RV and Boat buyers span the entire spectrum of recreational-related demographics. Every age group from young families buying their first camper for occasional outings, to retired full-timers in super-luxury units, are joining the online recreational vehicle purchase revolution.
These buyers tend to do their initial research by driving to the dealerships in their comfortable driving area, usually a 50 to 500-mile radius, or by making periodic stops along their travels and adventures over time. By doing this type of initial shopping, they are able to see, feel and drive the types of units available. They can learn the pros and cons of the various styles, sizes and price levels by seeing these units in person at the dealerships they visit - hopefully leaving their checkbook and credit cards in their vehicle. (Lest they meet a salesman, and buy something.)
Once they have narrowed down their general types or units of interest, they can begin their online price shopping. They can slowly narrow down their search to a particular year, make and model, with specific options. From there on out, they simply call each dealer and/or private RV seller with a unit that matches their needs. Sooner or later, they find the right deal - at the right price. Distance seems to be no problem if they feel they are saving enough money, or finding the right unit.
At WaveWallet, we have seen our percentage of online, and/or out-of-state purchases grow to more than 50% of our RV financing customers. And, because they are normally unfamiliar with long-distance or private-party sales procedures, we provide them with an easy roadmap to a safe and successful transaction.
The new online RV and motorhome "Private Sellers" are wary of their exposure to unscrupulous or fraudulent buyers, so we help guide them through the complete transaction as well. Our RV pre-approval and loan processing, title research, and closing departments coordinate virtually all aspects of the RV purchase, finance and loan closing. A smooth transaction can be crucial to help guide the purchase and sale process from start to finish, with all parties satisfied with the outcome.
So, now you are able to easily find the best price and financing for just about any type of recreational vehicle. The thousands of dollars in savings normally cover more than the cost of driving or flying thousands of miles to take delivery of your new toy or home on wheels, or on water.
While most potential buyers' interest in saving money intensifies during the frenzy of shopping for a new boat or RV, they should remember those industry related businesses they may need after their purchase. Your local Dealer may be much more likely to go out of their way for "post-sale" related activities like service, troubleshooting, etc. if you purchased the unit from them. As you travel further and further from home, the savings in actual dollars become more and more important.
The rapid rise in the use of the Internet for RV shopping has closed more RV dealerships than any other factor, even the extended economic recession. However, the fortunate dealers with deep enough pockets to survive the recession, and those adaptable enough to survive the Internet, have evolved with the changing times.
Now that much of a dealership's income from unit sales has been reduced, they rely more and more on the increased income produced by other areas such as the parts and service departments. They have added new avenues of income such as rental fleets, consignment sales and other products and services.
If you decide to take the Internet leap and save money by researching, shopping and buying online, remember to give your local dealers a chance at earning your business. If not the sale - be it for service, parts or repairs; a little more money spent locally can go a long way in good relations over the long term.
And don't forget to remember that a "Great Deal" can be found just about anywhere if you look hard enough and smart enough. So start close to home, then go from there.
"For every buyer flying from New York to California to save a little money, there is another flying from California to New York to do the same thing."
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Basic Factors Involved in RV Loan Approval
Lenders look at several factors when underwriting each RV loan. Every lender is different and stronger areas of your credit profile can help outweigh weaker ones. There are several consistent factors that each lender will pay careful attention to when considering a potential loan.
1. Credit Score - When evaluating the purchasing of a car or even a home, lenders commonly grant an approval based on factors and credit scores lower than those required to purchase an RV. These items, RVs and boats, are considered luxury items. If you were to lose a job, become disabled, or become unable to pay your normal bills, then it is common sense to assume you will stop paying "luxury" items first.
RV lenders normally require a credit score of approximately 700 or better, with no visible credit history of bankruptcies, repossessions, foreclosures, liens, etc. Even late payments as recent as the last several years can be reason for them to decline a loan
2. Debt-to-Income Ratio - Your debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of your monthly revolving debt in relation to your gross monthly income.
Revolving debt is generally considered to be expenses such as monthly mortgage payments, auto payments, credit card debt and other things that may contribute to your monthly debt obligations. Monthly expenses like utilities and other personal items such as cell phone bills are not considered in computing debt-to-income ratios.
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Currently, lenders are limiting the maximum debt-to-income ratios at 42% to 45%. As little as an additional percent or two can be cause for a decline. You can figure your own debt to income ratio by dividing your total monthly revolving debt by your gross monthly income.
For example, to figure your own ratio, use a calculator as follows: $4,000 (monthly debt) divided by $10,000 (monthly income) equals 40% (debt-to-income ratio). Your own figures won't be as simple as this example, but be sure to use "monthly debt divided by monthly income" to get the correct percentage.
3. Liquidity - Liquidity is basically your total amount of readily available cash. Things that are considered are checking accounts, savings accounts, securities and investments. Company retirement accounts that are inaccessible or cause serious penalties for withdrawal are normally not regarded as "liquid assets".
In other words, how much money do you have available to pay bills if your income is interrupted, either temporarily or permanently? There is no set amount or ratio that can be computed. Each lender and situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Excellent credit could allow a lender to accept lower liquidity and vise versa.
4. Loan Value - As with nearly every type of loan, the value of the item being purchased is a consideration. An RV's value is normally determined by its "book value" as listed in the N.A.D.A. valuation guide. Some lenders add value for optional equipment while others do not. Each has its own formula for determining the loan value of a particular RV.
You can look up RV values at NADA RV Values website, but be cautious of how many options you check as applicable. Many of these options are considered standard equipment by both the lender and the unit's manufacturer. For example: A refrigerator is always standard equipment, but a larger, side-by-side with an ice maker would be considered optional equipment.
Since the loan value of a particular RV is a major factor considered in the approval of each RV loan preapproval, you will need to provide basic information on one specific unit, no matter if it is for an actual loan approval or a pre-approval.
It's normally advisable to wait until you have narrowed down your choices to a particular type, year and price range. You can then provide a subject RV's information for the pre-approval. As long as you stay close to the subject vehicle's basic information, the lender can simply switch the collateral (RV information) on the same approval.
Pros and Cons of RV Loan Pre-Approval
You should be wary of "shopping" your RV loan pre-approval to multiple brokers since each one will pull your credit report from one or all three credit bureaus several times. Each broker's loan processing department will need to pull your credit for their own records and information as well as any lender(s) the loan is sent to for potential approval.
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Multiple credit inquiries can lower your credit score by several points per inquiry, although lenders realize that some inquiries are part of any loan approval and consider a few to be normal. Excessive inquiries, 3 to 4 or more in a very short period of time can damage your borrowing ability. Multiple credit inquiries or "Hits" as they are sometimes called, may appear as if you are shopping for loans because you have been turned down elsewhere, even if that isn't the case.
By applying with a single broker or lender you can avoid the problem of multiple financing inquiries on your credit report on the three major credit-reporting agencies. Also, by having your RV loan pre-approved you are able to close on your purchase much faster than if you wait until you find the exact unit you decide to purchase. This is especially helpful when buying on eBay, from other online sources or from a seller who may have other potential buyers who could "beat you to the punch" while you wait for your loan approval.
Just as you shop for the exact RV you may decide to purchase, it is wise to do your homework and check the rates, fees, and terms of various lending sources before you apply for your loan pre-approval. Once you have narrowed your choices down to one or two sources, then you can proceed with your RV loan pre-approval application. Once approved, you will be prepared and ready to purchase the RV that's just right for you.
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