As Jalopnik’s resident car-buying expert and a professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve picked a few of your questions and will try to help out. This week we are discussing how long a car has to sit on the lot before a dealer will wiggle on price and manage stores that will only accept in-house financing.
Hi I’m in need of a larger wagon and my shortlist is down to 2- the Audi A4 all road and (what I really want) the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. I know these are pretty rare cars so there isn’t a whole lot of data i can go off of regarding sales. Those listed on cars.com and autotrader.com seem to be all over in terms of pricing and mileage, and those two sets of data don’t seem to follow the traditional indirect relationship you’d normally see. A number of them sit on the lot for quite some time. How long would one have to be listed for sale before i can through out a low number to get one? And how low do you think i’d be able to go at that point?
This is a good question and it comes from the assumption that a dealer will get more desperate to move a unit the longer it sits on the lot and therefore will be more willing to take a lower offer. The first part of the assumption is true, dealers don’t want cars to sit for a long time. However, most dealers are already adjusting the price of their inventory as at certain intervals the longer the car is there. For example, a store may start at a price of $45,000 then at the 15-day mark come down to $43,500, at 30-days come down to $41,000 and at 45-days come down to $40,000. There does come a point where the dealer will hit their floor and decide that it’s better to send the car to the auction and hope for the best. Dealers have access to market pricing data so they can make their adjustments accordingly.
On that hypothetical $45,000 car even if you waited the 45 days until they dropped it down to $40,000 they probably aren’t going to make an offer of $38,000. Furthermore, if a dealer is really ambitious on what they think they can get for a car, and their prices are generally above market, I have found that those stores are even less flexible and would rather “wait for the right buyer.”
As I’ve said over and over again, when it comes to used cars it’s more about finding the best value than the bottom dollar price. So when you find your perfect wagon, ask this question - “Can I find a car with similar miles and specs for a lower price?” If the answer is no, you probably have found your deal.
Since it’s a seller’s market for used cars, so many stores are insisting on in-house financing. How can I manage this if I want to use my credit union?
“I am trying to buy an 2014-2016 Volvo XC70. They come up every once in awhile but the last two were out of my state. In both cases the dealerships where they were being sold out of wouldn’t do the deal unless I got their financing. One flat out said they would take financing from an out of state credit union. I explained to them that when the wired money was secure they could hand me the keys. The second dealer seemed to have “lost” me in the shuffle and sold the car to someone else.
So I know it’s a sellers market but how do I combat this if I’m not going to finance through them? It’s like they don’t want my money unless they get the financing nic as well.
I’m trying to not go into the dealership which seems to really make them uneasy. I hate sitting in the “box” while they contemplate how to break me. I tried to do remote deals but the places I was trying to go through still required a wet signature and FedEx docs. They want you to fill out the credit app online even if you aren’t using their credit then they send you the paperwork. And, it’s still not a done deal until you get everything back to them. Which means it’s still for sale for a couple of days.”
In this current market the buyer doesn’t quite have the same leverage that they used to. If a dealer insists on making the sale contingent upon in-house financing, it used to be the case where you could threaten to walk. These days dealers will just take the gamble that they will sell the car to someone else under their terms. What you should do is discuss with your credit union about refinancing an auto loan. Most credit unions do this, the cost is usually minimal, and the rates are still competitive. This would allow you to take whatever rate the dealer wants to push and lower it later through your credit union.
As for your concerns with remote deals and waiting on paperwork, it’s been my experience that once a credit application is submitted and a contract is sent out, the dealer pulls the car off the market as it now has a “pending sale.” It has happened where some stores sell the car to someone else anyway while waiting on the documents, but it’s not common.
Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!