Florida dealers are attaching a ‘buyer beware’ caveat to some of the travel trailers currently up for auction by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to a report in the Fort Myers News Press.
Al Blackwell, president of Camper Depot in Punta Gorda, said that when the FEMA auctions started, “We thought it would kill our sales.” But he said it’s had little effect, because many of the trailers used to house hurricane victims are in such bad shape, people won’t buy the units.
Of the trailers up for auction, 63 have been identified as beyond repair, FEMA spokesman Eugene Brezany said. “We’re not putting up trailers that are absolutely perfect, but we’re trying to offer a good product,” he said.
In some cases, hurricane victims used the trailers for only a few weeks or months, but by the time they moved out, damage included graffiti on the walls, shredded mattresses, missing fixtures, broken appliances and carpets ruined by pet stains.
FEMA purchased 18,647 late-model trailers for $316,908,319, according to the News Press. The agency indicated some of the units would be placed in storage for use in future disasters or would be sold to other government agencies.
The U.S. Government Services Administration has been holding an online auction for the bulk of the travel trailers since Feb. 18, with more expected every week for 18 more months, FEMA officials say.
For example, a 2005, 25-foot travel trailer was described as: “missing bathroom door knob, graffiti on bedroom and door-side walls, mirror and roof vent broken, radio wires pulled out, cigarette burns on floor.”
The high bid Wednesday (May 4) was $6,442 while the wholesale price for a similar model is $16,900, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association price guide.
Joe Fendick, sales manager at North Trails RV Center in Fort Myers, claimed that in earlier auctions, people overpaid. “It wasn’t a good deal with all the damage (to) the trailer,” Fendick said.
FEMA said the travel trailers are available for inspection in three Florida cities – Milton, Fort Pierce and Punta Gorda.