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Is now a good time to buy a used car? We ask seven experts to understand the current boom in used car sales

Time 10 months ago

While new car sales are sputtering to start again, used car sales are booming. 

Dealers are fighting among themselves to get the very best stock to fill out holes in their forecourts, and reporting mad prices at auction as short supplies whip up prices. 

Meanwhile, buyers are turning to used cars to get themselves moving in a post-pandemic world, with huge spikes in sales of older, cheaper used cars.

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Some buyers are even rekindling their love for practical MPVs as they realise they’re a safe, efficient way of moving people, while others are even splashing the cash on exotic sports and supercars with a ‘life is short’ mentality.

From whatever side of the fence you’re on, the used car market is experiencing huge interest. But is now a good time to buy a used car?

We put the question to seven experts in the used car sector. Here’s what they had to say.

Is now a good time to buy used cars if you’re a dealer?

Increased consumer research means good time to fill gaps

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Glass’s chief editor Jayson Whittington

Those consumers contemplating buying a used car have had over three months to consider and research their decision. This makes now a good time for dealers to fill gaps on forecourts to take advantage of increased demand, although it will be critical that new stock makes it onto online advertising portals as quickly as possible.

A flourishing used car market

Motorway.co.uk director James Bush

While new car sale numbers continue to fall year-on-year, the used car market is flourishing. Consumers wanting to avoid public transport to get to work are looking for affordable used cars to get around. Dealers who perhaps relied on new (and nearly new) cars are reacting to this by stocking up at the cheaper end of the market to match this increased demand. We expect dealers to see used as their primary growth area for 2020 and beyond.

Buy the right cars

Shoreham Vehicle Auctions MD Alex Wright

Dealers should be focussing on buying the right cars not necessarily large numbers of cars.

Is now a good time to buy a used car if you’re a consumer?

Be prepared to pay more

Autorola director Jon Mitchell

There are some great cars in the market currently and a good mix of makes and models. The sub-three-year-old cars are in short supply, so buyers have switched to older cars. Consumers should be prepared to pay more at this end of the market, compared with the beginning of the year.

There’s less choice

Cazana director of insight Rupert Pontin

From the consumer perspective, it’s not a bad time to buy a used car but it’s not the best either. There is less choice of used car stock due to restrictions in the supply chain and as such retailers do not need to incentivise buyers in the same way that they may have done pre-Covid-19. However, pricing for their part exchange will probably be strong as retailers seek to find more used car stock to fill the gaps on their pitches.

Great value still to be found

Motorway.co.uk director James Bush

There’s always great value to be found in the used car market and now is no exception. With many buyers looking for maximum value, people who usually buy new are now looking at the used market to find the right vehicle. Prices have remained steady vs. pre-lockdown, or risen in some segments, but there is still the right car out there at the right price for everyone.

Special offers thrown in

AA Cars CEO James Fairclough

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Dealers need to sell their stock, some of which they will now have owned for a number of months, so many are willing to make special offers, or throw in extras such as extended warranties, in order to secure a deal and generate new cash flow. If you find the car you want, at a price you can afford and are willing to pay, then it is worth proceeding.

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James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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