Maybe you've got a car you're looking to get rid of. Or maybe you're in the market for a used car. If you're looking to sell, now's the time to go for it and if you're looking to buy, keep your wallet in your pocket a little while longer.
Why? The short answer is gas, and a used vehicle shortage.
A lot of industries have been affected by the Great Recession, and the car industry was among them. People had less money, so they were more likely to, instead of shelling out for a new car, pay for a used one. That is, if they even bought one at all; many of us are simply keeping our older cars on the road. This cut down pretty heavily on America's stock of used vehicles, which had been building up for a while as people traded in their junkers and rolled off with a newer car.
And then...well, then gas prices started climbing, and suddenly, the only used vehicle anybody wanted was one that got better gas mileage than the one they already had and had low auto insurance rates. Add suddenly-high consumer demand and a limited supply and you got rapidly-rising prices. For example, a 2009 Prius costs nearly $2000 more now than it did at the beginning of the year. So, how do you use this to your advantage? Especially with gas prices starting to come down?
Obviously, the best time to sell your car is right now. But how do you go about doing that to get the most value?
The best place to start, especially if you're looking to sell to trade up, is a dealership. Dealerships want all the fuel-efficient used cars they can get, because they know they can sell them, so use that to your advantage. Don't hesitate to shop around, either; talk to different dealerships and see what they're willing to offer you for your car.
If you're just trying to sell on your own, play it smartly: undercut the competition slightly. Look to see what your car is selling for, and offer it for a hundred dollars or so less. It will make you more likely to find a buyer, and if prices suddenly drop, you won't suddenly be asking more than anybody's willing to pay.
Keep your wallet closed and your eyes sharp. Try to wait until at least June before you go shopping for a used car, simply because spring is a big car-selling season, and gas prices will drop quite a bit over the next few months.
If you do have to buy now, drive a hard bargain, especially at dealerships. They know just as well as you do that gas prices are falling and that demand is expected to slacken. So use that to your advantage; after all, even if he does give you a good deal on the car, it sure beats the alternative of getting even less for it in a few months.
In short, it's the classic business adage: buy low, sell high.