Used car prices – all aboard the roller-coaster

There are many who feel that the blip currently being experienced in the world of used cars is entirely seasonal and temporary. Enquiries are down but it was half term, sales are down but Christmas is coming, profits are down because prices have started to fall. The truth is, some dealers, with their financial year end’s looming, are deciding to ‘cash out’ of stock in an attempt to balance their books.

There is of course more stock available to the trade and auctions, who up until recently were looking at 90% + conversion rates are now seeing those down at 75% meaning prices are falling and buyers can be more choosy.

Undesirable or tatty cars will no longer appeal and buyers will become colour and spec sensitive once more. The feeling in the trade is mixed but many know that for the last God knows how many years the job gets tougher until Christmas and everyone sells off their over-age stock at much lower prices. Then, as sure as January follows December they find in the new year that the retail demand increases and they have to pay more for the same cars they sold off cheaply the month before!

I know it sounds like utter madness but that’s just the way it is, only this year with prices on used cars having risen 30% or more there is a feeling that there simply can’t be a large price increase in January because used car prices have already reached their absolute peak.

For the consumer, of course, it is the time to be eagle eyed as there will be cars out there that will be sold much cheaper, it really is a question of searching hard on the internet, and if the model is popular and plentiful there will usually be a deal. If you are looking at your local dealer’s website keep checking for price reductions particularly at the beginning or end of a month as that’s when most dealers look at reducing prices to turn the stock. Remember also that if cars are cheaper in general then dealers are able to acquire wholesale stock cheaper which will increase pressure on similar models that have been bought in at August prices and which, in some cases, can now be bought for much, much less.

As we mentioned on Wednesday the window of this particular opportunity will only be open for a brief time. All the indicators are that stock will be scarce for some time yet and the new year demand will create stronger prices once more, so bargains can be had but not for long.

Remember research, compare, haggle and be hard when negotiating you may not be in this situation again for quite some time.

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