In June of 2013, Grandma and I got serious about our quest for a used motor home. We were shopping somewhat on the low end - under $30K. We browsed our local classified ad magazine (Uncle Henry's), Craigslist, dealers' web sites, and any other sources we found. We looked at 16 coaches in 8 days! Only 3 or 4 of those met our standards at all. We had one near miss where there was a very nice coach for reasonable money, but someone put a deposit on it about an hour before we called.
On June 21, we made a deal with a private seller on a 1998 Southwind 32V, on a Chevrolet P32 chassis, with the 7.4L gas engine. It had less than 29,000 miles and was in very nice condition. We agreed to have the seller deliver it to our home and that we would pass the money and paperwork there. This turned out to be a wise decision.
On June 25, the seller delivered the coach, but he had trouble with the brakes along the way. It turned out to be sticking calipers. I won't detail the renegotiation, but the result was that the seller reimbursed us for half of the cost of the brake work. Considering that we are now starting out with new calipers and pads on all 4 corners, I think this was fair.
We had a local RV shop (ALT RV Service in North Monmouth, ME) recommended to us and we arranged to have them do the brake work and some other things on our list. They have been very good.
I'm writing this in October, during what will likely be our last trip this Fall. I want to briefly describe some of our other adventures. I'll close this entry by offerring some advice to other newbies:
Have patience in your shopping. You may chase down a lot off false leads, but should eventually find a deal that fits for you.
Either drive the coach, or insist that the seller deliver it to you. If there are mechanical problems, you are in a far better position if they are discovered before you take ownership.
Realize what you are getting into for taxes, registration fees, insurance, etc., and budget accordingly. Also, budget for substantial repairs and maintenance - brakes, shocks, tires, etc.
There is no such thing as a low-cost motor coach. Besides the brakes, we have replaced the front air bags, all 3 batteries, 6 tires and will soon be replacing the shocks. Within the next year, we will be recoating the roof. At some point (we may be there), you end up with more money invested in your rehabbed coach than you could get out of it if you sold. In our case, we intend to use it and enjoy it. We are still coming out ahead of some of the newer, higher priced, units and we have no loan payments.