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Old 03-31-2021, 05:57 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Fair value of our builds

Hello!
Seeing some very basic builds for sale (not sold) at shockingly high price, and other very good empty shells not selling despite a very reasonable price, I thought ...
You (we!) are a growing community and all together we "know our stuff". Would it be possible/reasonable/useful to develop an "appraisal" capacity? I think this could be useful for insurance coverage, price reference when selling/buying, etc. Personally I don't think our builds worth more than the invested amount. But that's only my opinion, and if there is a consensus around the idea that the time and pain involved during a build should have a monetary value too, what not. A list of, I don't know, 50 or 100 buses with specs, cost of the build and "skoolie's members opinion of a fair value" could set a good and maybe recognized price reference (I'm thinking insurance coverage, mainly).
I know there are some professional appraisers, but do they know better is this case?
Just an idea, feel free to argue that it is a bad one!
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Old 03-31-2021, 06:51 PM   #2
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While I like the idea of having a sounding board to try to get true values for bus conversions, there are way too many variables in building to get a "fair" price for each and every seller other than what the market will bare.

Some have the ability to do due diligence in the initial bus purchase in not spending too much up front, while others rush into buying and fork over more that the bus is worth simply because they don't want or know how to negotiate the cost down.
Only to find out they bought a pig in a poke that needs all kinds of mechanical and body work that will literally add $$thousands to the cost of the conversion.

Then comes the conversion.
Some can jump right in tearing out the old interior materials, clean/fix any rust, then refit with more "homey" like materials, while others have to pay another party to do the work.

Then all of the other interior fitment comes.
Some are savvy buyers who shop around for the best pricing on all of the materials that will go into the build, while others go with the first offering, often at much higher cost than if they'd "shopped around".

And on and on.

So in summary, one could spend $30k plus in converting and still not have Taj mahal like creature comforts, while others with a hands on approach could spend $10K and have a much more luxurious bus simply because the didn't have to pay someone to do the work for them.

I'm open to seeing how this idea progresses, and will be watching as it goes...
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Old 03-31-2021, 06:57 PM   #3
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Having a full time appraisal service might be like having a double edge sword. One one side, yes it could help in determining value but on the other side appraisers might want to look for a build standard and the only thing out there are the current ref standards.

So what happens if appraisers give to many negative check marks on the appraisal because they want to use a standard that really does not fit!
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Old 03-31-2021, 07:17 PM   #4
Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peteg59 View Post
While I like the idea of having a sounding board to try to get true values for bus conversions, there are way too many variables in building to get a "fair" price for each and every seller other than what the market will bare.

Some have the ability to do due diligence in the initial bus purchase in not spending too much up front, while others rush into buying and fork over more that the bus is worth simply because they don't want or know how to negotiate the cost down.
Only to find out they bought a pig in a poke that needs all kinds of mechanical and body work that will literally add $$thousands to the cost of the conversion.

Then comes the conversion.
Some can jump right in tearing out the old interior materials, clean/fix any rust, then refit with more "homey" like materials, while others have to pay another party to do the work.

Then all of the other interior fitment comes.
Some are savvy buyers who shop around for the best pricing on all of the materials that will go into the build, while others go with the first offering, often at much higher cost than if they'd "shopped around".

And on and on.

So in summary, one could spend $30k plus in converting and still not have Taj mahal like creature comforts, while others with a hands on approach could spend $10K and have a much more luxurious bus simply because the didn't have to pay someone to do the work for them.

I'm open to seeing how this idea progresses, and will be watching as it goes...
I totally agree with what you said. But should the cold, fair value of the bus at the end of the build take these points into consideration? I didn't have the time to shop around a lot when I bought and built my bus (still not sure the $9k new Onan generator was a good idea ... Anyway). Let's imagine your bus is very similar to mine, but you had way more time to shop around. About the same level of equipment, etc. but you managed to pay 30% less than me. Is the value of your bus lower, or should it be the same? For more conventional vehicles, I don't think insurances take the initial cost into consideration, but the "market value" of it.
Well, after writing this post, I just think "Who cares, right?". Maybe that's the answer
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Old 03-31-2021, 07:21 PM   #5
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As peteg59 said, “it’s whatever the market will bare.” Value is definitely a subjective proposition. Most of us think our “stuff” is worth more than it really is. But as PT Barnum once said, “There is a sucker born every minute !!”
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Old 03-31-2021, 07:23 PM   #6
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I think we need to come up with the skoolie equivalent for 'a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money.'
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Old 03-31-2021, 07:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ABBus View Post
I totally agree with what you said. But should the cold, fair value of the bus at the end of the build take these points into consideration? I didn't have the time to shop around a lot when I bought and built my bus (still not sure the $9k new Onan generator was a good idea ... Anyway). Let's imagine your bus is very similar to mine, but you had way more time to shop around. About the same level of equipment, etc. but you managed to pay 30% less than me. Is the value of your bus lower, or should it be the same? For more conventional vehicles, I don't think insurances take the initial cost into consideration, but the "market value" of it.
Well, after writing this post, I just think "Who cares, right?". Maybe that's the answer

With your $9k Onan purchase, it has to add more value than someone who installed a Harbor Freight genny.
Onan is a great product that should provide you with many years of trouble free power. Great choice.

It adds more factors to the overall value when top of the line products and materials are used, vs someone cutting up old pallets and using thrift shop purchases to outfit their bus that must come into play when assessing a build for it's monetary value...
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Old 03-31-2021, 08:28 PM   #8
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As far as insurance is concerned I don't think they care whether the materials are top quality or value conscious or even present at all! Case in point, when I bought this 2000 Winnebago it was outfitted as a kind of party bus but as long as the VIN came back as an RV the insurance agent underwrote it as a fully furnished RV and valued it accordingly adjusted for age and mileage... $66k!! Now that's just for insurance purposes but if you see my point, the quality or presence or lack of any particular feature or amenity isn't really going to factor into a master table intended to define reasonable price ranges. Take KBB, for cars it's pretty easy because there's only so many options and they know what the manufacturer offered in that model but they're not going to care if you heavily modified it and are expecting those mods to factor into the value. Jeep Wranglers tread that line because a heavily modified jeep is worth a lot but only to someone who knows why they're paying for those expensive modifications. KBB can only quote you a stock jeep value based on age and mileage.

All that to say I think we as a community can come up with some realistic price ranges for the original bus chassis based on age, mileage, dimensions and powertrain, perhaps adjusted for region and overall condition, but once you get into valuing someone's aftermarket handiwork there's really no way to compare one to another and affix a price one against another. I'd love to say that $9k generator is worth it but if the rig is full of shoddy electrical wiring what's the point. Unless someone extremely well versed in the skoolie community could physically inspect and assign a value to a build everything else is just conjecture from the contributor and therefore unintentionally biased.
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Old 03-31-2021, 08:41 PM   #9
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Great idea, really really hard to implement. There would need to be standards, data collection, averages, etc.. Who's going to do all that?

I agree with what the market will bear.

I agree some are better than others in knowing what to look for in buying a vehicle, solar, etc..

Others, like me, know some things, but I'm barely dodging a bullet with my transmission modulator issue. Yet, I do have a clunk when turning slow and a wobble when cruising fast in the front end. So, who knows how deep I am there. I screwed myself by not driving it on the freeway and seeing it ran 2400 rpm at 60mph, and cost me $2500 for a different rear end. I only paid $2,300.

So, should I value my bus at $5,800 because I wasn't savvy? I don't think so. But others might think so, because I improved its abilities.

In reality, there's only three places appraisal prices matter:
1) When registering
2) When insuring
3) When selling

And in all three of those scenarios, it's what you can get the person on the other side of the counter/table to agree its worth.

Overall, I guess I'd have to say again, good idea, but even a better idea is buyer beware....and do your research damnit!
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Old 03-31-2021, 09:41 PM   #10
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My high school auto tech teacher, who was one of the smartest people at our school, often said that a vehicle's value is whatever someone is willing to pay for it.
This thread is a good idea, but ultimately it will be very hard to compare apples to apples as every bus is different and every buyer would be willing to pay differently based on the bus fitting their needs.

It would be helpful if this thread contained a list of buses, with some specs, and what they ultimately sold for.
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Old 03-31-2021, 10:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Yawp View Post
My high school auto tech teacher, who was one of the smartest people at our school, often said that a vehicle's value is whatever someone is willing to pay for it.
This thread is a good idea, but ultimately it will be very hard to compare apples to apples as every bus is different and every buyer would be willing to pay differently based on the bus fitting their needs.

It would be helpful if this thread contained a list of buses, with some specs, and what they ultimately sold for.
Yup this ^ The value for a vehicle for a sale is "what someone is willing to pay for it".

For insurance it is a different matter as valuation will come into play for calculating premiums or if there is a loss. I talked to my insurance agent about this. Currently my bus is still titled and insured as a bus. With my commercial policy it is dirt cheap to insure as a bus for full coverage. The downside of this is if it were to burn to the ground I would only be reimbursed the cash value of a comparible unconverted bus.

When my conversion is mostly finished I will retitle and insure it as a motorhome. I can insure it at a stated value that I think it is worth (within reason of the underwriter). My premium will be based on the value I put on my bus (higher value = higher premium). If it were to burn down at this point I would get the full value that I had insured.

The problem I could see is if you only have liability coverage and someone else crashes into your bus and the OP insurance company decides to total out your bus at an unconverted bus value. One way to protect against this would be to keep receipts for bus build purchases, record man hours spent working and have photos of completed work.

Ted
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Old 03-31-2021, 11:36 PM   #12
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I like this...and appreciate every comment made thus far...but so many sales and purchases have an emotional component involved which is hard to quantify. Just today, I helped evaluate a bus which a child (grown...60+) inherited from their dad. Dad paid $15k for this bus, which was converted. I hated to do it...but I had to tell her she'd be pretty lucky to get $8k for it. Unfortunately, the emotional attachment to "what dad paid" may get in the way of a successful sale.

And buyers do the same thing...they fall in love with...usually the first bus they see...and can overpay. But then again, nobody but the buyer knows their situation and needs. I just discussed a bus I got, on a related FB group, and got a comment that "you can waste your money however you want." This guy didn't see the value in something in which I see value, even if that value is only enjoyment or investment. So, my point is that two people may have very different needs and emotional attachments...and that is hard to distill down to an equation. But I will follow along!
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Old 04-01-2021, 11:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TJones View Post
One way to protect against this would be to keep receipts for bus build purchases, record man hours spent working and have photos of completed work.

Ted
Does thinking, researching, subconscious dreaming of solutions, being on skoolie.net qualify as work? If so, then I'm working on my bus way more than I'm doing anything else all combined.

I think Ross has a valid point about the emotional side, and as already stated, lot's of foolish and ignorant purchases are made. But, that's all part of the ebb and flow of commerce and the journey of our buses.
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Old 04-01-2021, 11:30 AM   #14
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Interesting idea. Problem I see would be individual and regional differences in valuation. How many times have we seen threads discussing value and someone says, "well I could have gotten that bus for $10." (I'm exaggerating of course). I've seen the same thing on my motorcycle forums. I live in New Jersey and everything is going to be more expensive in New Jersey. If someone lives in outer Podunk, they probably do think my junk is expensive.

As an alternative, how about an internal forum registry for our buses. I'ved always thought such registries are pretty cool when I've come across them. We could list all the particulars about our buses, cut and dried. Forget estimating a value based on anything but the actual amount of money invested and what's in the bus. For instance, I wouldn't be interested in a bus into which someone has installed multiple tons of 3/4" plywood, authentic Italian tile and a clawfoot tub, so I'd know not to look at that one. If you want to do this to help folks not members of the forum you could put the registry somewhere visible to non-members.

Hmmmm, I never thought to wonder if we already have such a registry . . . do we? We should.
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Old 04-01-2021, 11:58 AM   #15
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I have kept a “build 3 ring binder” of every dollar spent. The only thing I have not done myself is having new tires put on. So I haven’t spent anything on labor as of yet. I can’t even imagine tacking on the labor and getting out what I have put in. But Hell, what do I know ?? My bus would only attract a certain segment of society anyway !!
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Old 04-01-2021, 01:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rucker View Post
I think we need to come up with the skoolie equivalent for 'a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money.'
A bus is a metal shed in the yard that your neighbors bitch about?..

A bus is a storage container for your cash as you wait for it to depriciate?..

A bus is a metal box for storing dreams of adventure?...
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Old 04-01-2021, 01:32 PM   #17
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You forgot one other thing: it’s a conversation piece for when your friends come over and wonder what the hell you are doin’
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Old 04-01-2021, 01:40 PM   #18
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Cost of bus... priceless...

Water tank = $300, Generator = $3500, new tires/wheels = $6,000...

Conversation value at every stop everywhere.... =PRICELESS..
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Old 04-01-2021, 02:20 PM   #19
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Buy high, sell low...

Not the best rule, but seems to be how it goes for me.

Resale value wasn't really a factor in my build. Find something old and interesting and bring it back to life, spending as much time/money possible on each part and then move on.

Usually both are in short supply..
Pro-tip: Pay your bills first before using the above technique.

If not working on the bus, this is what I do with my spare time in general... Old BMW motorcycles, Honda dirt bikes, army jeeps, IH trucks...

It is fun for me, but I could never-ever recover my money doing things this way.

Bus build was a fun activity that absorbed almost every spare moment of time that could be considered recreational for nearly 3 years.

I can't recover that time by selling the bus, but no regrets.
How much is your hobby worth to your soul?

Be assured if I am ever selling, I am losing money on paper. But that is not why I do what I do with my spare time.

Standard pricing for my type of stuff would be hard anyway... Never seen a bus exactly like mine, even pre-conversion. With that being said, I should stay out of this discussion. Misses the point of OP.
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Old 04-01-2021, 03:16 PM   #20
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... With that being said, I should stay out of this discussion. Misses the point of OP.
Not at all!
Thanks for your contribution.
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