For your classic and collectible clients, buying a dream car was a very different transaction before the digital revolution. Back then, they’d spot a listing in an auto sales magazine or newspaper, race out to meet the seller in person with cash or check in hand, kick the tires, take it for a spin around the neighborhood and maybe take it to a family mechanic.
Now, the entire buying and selling experience is changing. We live in a lightning-paced world with online auto auctions and internet payment services such as PayPal, Venmo and even Bitcoin. On a Monday, your client can find a highly specific make and model of a vehicle owned by an individual, a collector or a flipper located anywhere in the country and have it delivered to their home by a freelance driver on a Wednesday morning. Today’s technology propels sales and transactions much faster and as a result, your clients want to move at a faster pace when it comes to finding and purchasing the vehicle they really want.
Buying Privately vs. Buying at a Dealership
The most significant benefit to a buyer when shopping the private seller marketplace is the range of selection, especially when it comes to classic and collectible vehicles. If your client is looking for that rare, one-of-a-kind classic dream car, chances are they’re not going to find it on a sales floor. It’s probably in the hands of a collector or another enthusiast. On the other hand, there’s a little less advantage to purchasing high performance supercar, exotic or luxury vehicles from a private seller. Often dealerships specialize in these types of dream cars and will have many of the same models in stock. But if your client puts the time into a thorough and robust online search, they’re bound to find the model they want, and can most likely snag a certified pre-owned warranty while they’re at it.
Digital Auction Platforms
Your classic and collectible clients may ask your opinion about one of the fastest-growing digital auction platforms and enthusiast communities to buy and sell classic, collector and enthusiast vehicles, BringATrailer.com (BAT). Since its inception in 2007, BAT’s knowledgeable community of more than 350,000 users and over 140,000 registered bidders vets each listing so potential buyers can bid with confidence. “This online auction site has now been making waves for over a decade and continues to compete well with auction houses around the world using a low-cost buying and selling format,” says Brian Henry, Build A Trailer insider and Classic Auto Insurance colleague. “Most auctions last seven days. The transactions are clear with little misunderstanding or confusion. Plus, site users and commenters usually provide a wealth of information to both buyers and sellers. BAT has forged its path within the online auction site arena and sets itself apart from most others.”
Negotiating the Deal
For many, negotiating a better price on the sales floor of a specialty auto dealership is too uncomfortable to attempt, in what ultimately amounts to a “store” setting. However, a private sale feels a little more like a conversation between fellow enthusiasts, often making it easier to practice bartering skills. It’s important to keep in mind many private sellers pay retail prices for their vehicles and will have less wiggle room to change the asking price while still making a profit – unlike auto dealerships.
Final Price Isn’t Always Final Cost
Whether they’re bidding at auction or negotiating directly with a private seller, make sure to remind your clients that the price they agree on is not their final cost at the end of the day. Buying a classic or collectible vehicle has a number of hidden expenses, including the fee to transport the vehicle if the seller is out of state, the cost of registration, taxes, future maintenance, storage and more. Make sure they plan for these expenses after the sale.
Even though the modern sales process moves at near-blinding speeds, tell your clients not to let that velocity force them into a rushed decision. Advise them to take their time. Inspect everything. Eye over the title closely for any potential issues. Unsettled financing via another party is a bad sign and could mean the seller isn’t the car’s rightful owner or the financer has a lien on the vehicle and could come knocking to claim it. Check every inch of the body for potential damage, especially water damage that could indicate the vehicle was involved in a flood (which can lead to a whole slew of problems they don’t want to have to deal with down the line). Bring A Trailer recommends sellers take at least 150 pictures of the vehicle as well as detailed videos for their auction page, which can take the place of an in-person look-see before the bidding starts.
In Person Test Drives Still A Good Idea
Your clients should take the vehicle for a test drive and make sure there are no malfunctioning mechanisms. Brian at BAT says, “Like any other auction -or purchase, for that matter- details are always important. Nothing competes with laying eyes on a vehicle, touching the leather, hearing the exhaust note and discussing the vehicle with the current owner. I always recommend hopping in the car or taking a flight to see the vehicle in person.”
Watch for Hazards
One downside of purchasing through a private seller is the buyer is no longer afforded the extra layer of protection involved with a dealership that has name recognition and customer service standards to uphold. If your client purchases a clunker from a private seller, they can hope they show some goodwill and cut you a deal. Ultimately, there’s little to keep the seller from shrugging and saying, “Sorry, but a deal is a deal.” That’s why it’s critical for buyers to inspect the vehicle thoroughly for physical damage from accidents, floods or other natural disasters – and shoddy restoration work. Other smart steps to verify the purchase include purchasing a CARFAX report, uploading the car’s details on the crowdsourced VINWiki for a report and having the vehicle inspected by third-party source such as a mechanic.
Let Someone Responsible Get Behind the Wheel
Not all online and private purchases are made in-state. In some cases, the seller is located on one side of the country and the buyer on the other. This doesn’t necessarily mean your client will have to travel across the country and road-trip it back. There are plenty of options when it comes to delivery services, but they should make sure the choice is well regarded. Any damage to the vehicle, whether or not it is repaired later, can still cause deflation in value.
The Classic Auto Insurance Difference
As an independent agent, your goal is to find the best protection possible for your collector clients who own classic and muscle trucks. Saving them money strengthens the loyalty they give you and keeps them coming back. In partnership with Classic Auto Insurance, you can offer the coverage and options a collector wants, tailoring policies to fit their needs and doing it for less than what a standard auto policy might cost. Agent partners also enjoy a minimum commission of 10% for every new and renewed policy. To become a referring agent, contact us today.
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