Buy­ing at auc­tion

BRIAN BAS­SETT ex­plores a rapidly grow­ing and popular way of buy­ing cars

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

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.

Be pre­pared

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

Bail­lon Col­lec­tion.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

A Burch­more’s auc­tion in progress.

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