Buying at auction
BRIAN BASSETT explores a rapidly growing and popular way of buying cars
TWENTY years ago car buyers bought vehicles largely from car dealers, either new or used, or from adverts in newspapers. In the last decade, however, the auction has become an increasingly popular method of buying used cars, as it is both exciting and a chance to obtain bargains.
A number of large motor auctioneers have been established in the Durban area for many years.
As Pietermaritzburg has grown, both local and Durban- based car auction houses now hold monthly auctions here, giving local buyers a chance to bid on the vehicles they want and enjoy the exciting auction atmosphere, as well as enhancing their opportunity to obtain a bargain.
There is, I find, still some reticence to buy at auction because it is not a familiar environment to most car buyers.
If you plan to attend a car auction with the intention of buying a car, go well prepared.
First of all decide on what type of vehicle you and your family need. We all would like the red Ferrari F430, but in practice our families require an SUV, or a five- seater saloon, which does not drain our savings into the petrol pump.
Also decide how much you can afford, remembering that the instalment on your loan is only half of your real monthly cost. Auction environments often encourage bidders to bid more than they can afford. So stick to your ceiling, there will always be another car like the one you want and it may go for less, as prices at auctions depend on the demand by those who are bidding on the day and nothing else.
Remember too that you will be required to pay a buyer’s commission on the price of the vehicle you buy, so check this out thoroughly.
Buy a catalogue
All auctions have a catalogues. Buy one and check out the vehicles for sale carefully. Go to the venue and check each vehicle in which you are interested thoroughly. There are no test drives at auction.
If you do not know that much about cars, admit it to yourself and take a friend who does. Let him check the vehicle thoroughly. Remember there will be no chance for an AA test, as these vehicles are sold “Voetstoots”, what you see is what you get and at auction the Consumer Protection Act will not protect you.
Everyone usually knows someone who has a book that lists the recom- mended retail and wholesale vehicle prices for a particular year. Get hold of one if you can and see what the vehicle on which you want to bid will cost in the trade. It is usually a good thing not to pay more than 10% above these prices, less if you can.
Auction houses will require that you settle the cost of the vehicle within a specific time after purchase, so arrange finance beforehand, or investigate the on- site finance arrangements that the auction house has and see whether these suit you. The beauty of auctions is that you do not only have to bid on one car. If you do not obtain one you like you may want to bid on another and, who knows, you might get better value.
Registering to bid
Auction houses require that bidders register beforehand.
Some charge for registration and will return the registration fee to you at the close of proceedings. At registration you receive a card on which is printed a number and you use the card to bid.
If you win the bid the auctioneer will take down your number and you will use it when you take delivery of the vehicle. Remember, when the hammer comes down the car is yours, there is no changing your mind — so be certain it is what you want and need.
Auctions are not only fun but offer the chance of real bargains.
Everything depends on who is bidding on the day. If not many people feel strongly about the car you like, odds are you will get it at a good price but, if there is a bidder who really wants the car you are keen on, he will probably drive up the price to the point where you should no longer be interested.
Recently a friend bought a 2011 Honda Civic at auction. It had 28 000 km on the clock and he paid only R120 000 for it.
He had, however, attended three previous auctions at the same auction house and only bought when he was sure he was getting a bargain.
Auctions are a great way to buy and sell cars but remember the adage “let the buyer beware” and you will do well. • See page 4 for the auction of the
A Burchmore’s auction in progress.