Un­der the ham­mer: tips to buy smart


Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Phuti Mpyane

If you are look­ing for a used­car bar­gain, an auc­tion can be a good bet as the prices tend to be much lower than at ve­hi­cle deal­ers. But as the ve­hi­cles are sold “voet­stoets” (as is), you need to do your home­work.

First choose your auc­tion house. Those with rep­utable track records, for in­stance Burch­more’s, Au­cor and Im­pe­rial Auto Auc­tions, should come highly rec­om­mended for this pur­pose but newer op­tions have sur­faced all over the coun­try.

Spread your reach. Bank repo lists, more auc­tion houses and spe­cial events are cre­ated to host auc­tions of va­ri­ety, from com­mer­cial, reg­u­lar to spe­cial con­sign­ments such as in­vest­ment or clas­sic cars.

En­sure that you are ready and able to ac­cess suf­fi­cient funds to cover the cost of bids and auc­tion fees. Most auc­tion houses use cash­less sys­tems.

Fo­cus your shop­ping list of de­sired cars. It’s a good idea to first at­tend an auc­tion as an ob­server. This will en­able you to fa­mil­iarise your­self with the process. You can then also ask the staff to ex­plain any as­pect which re­mains un­clear. An­other use­ful tip to re­mem­ber is to al­ways de­cide what ve­hi­cle you want to buy and what your price range is be­fore you par­tic­i­pate.

Ready to bid? Most auc­tion houses charge ad­min and ser­vice fees of about 14% of the fi­nal bid price, and also ex­pect to also pay a re­fund­able join­ing or auc­tion fee. Be aware, the re­fund­able auc­tion fee can be with­held if you in­cur penal­ties, of which there are a few. Be mind­ful VAT is charged on each ve­hi­cle sold.

If buy­ing as an in­di­vid­ual, ex­pect the fol­low­ing re­quire­ments: orig­i­nal ID; util­ity bill (not be older than three months) with cur­rent res­i­den­tial ad­dress.

If you will bid on be­half of a com­pany, keep the fol­low­ing info nearby: busi­ness proof of res­i­dence; busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ments (CK, CC, Pty); traf­fic reg­is­ter cer­tifi­cate; let­ter with proxy and buyer’s de­tails; proxy and buyer’s ID.

If buy­ing as a sole pro­pri­etor: util­ity bill with cur­rent res­i­den­tial ad­dress; owner’s ID; orig­i­nal let­ter on a com­pany let­ter­head con­firm­ing the ex­is­tence of the busi­ness as a sole pro­pri­etor­ship; if reg­is­tered for VAT, Sars let­ter with VAT num­ber.

The bid­ding process gen­er­ally be­gins a day ear­lier where bid­ders are al­lowed closer in­spec­tion of the cars and their con­di­tion. How­ever, you aren’t able to test drive the cars. In the end, you are buy­ing voet­stoots, so any de­fects after the sale are for your ac­count. 1. Bring a me­chanic to make a tech­ni­cal prog­no­sis. 2. Ask of the avail­abil­ity of the car’s le­gal doc­u­ments. 3. Check for road­wor­thy cer­tifi­cates and ex­pired li­cence fees. 4. Es­tab­lish if the car is a re­build or his­tory of pre­vi­ous ac­ci­dent. 5. Check war­ranty, main­te­nance plans and book val­ues. 6. Check for any miss­ing items: spare wheel, tool kit, lock nuts, ra­dios etc.


Re­mem­ber that auc­tion pro­cesses are fairly drawn out. The auc­tion­eer will an­nounce all of the rules of en­gage­ment and ex­pec­ta­tions be­fore the horse trad­ing can be­gin, so re­lax, an­tic­i­pate and pay at­ten­tion.

To make the day smoother: 1. Be pre­pared. You are likely to get out­bid on your favourite car. 2. Be pa­tient and be care­ful not to get caught up in the ex­cite­ment or en­ter­ing a bid­ding war with­out the bud­get. 3. Do your ut­most to stay within or lower than the bud­geted fees that cover the car and other ad­min­is­tra­tion costs. 4. The­atrics are not needed. The auc­tion­eer will largely spend his/her time en­quir­ing into the crowd: “I have R200,000. Do I see R250,000?” All you need to do as a bid­der is to raise your hand if you are will­ing to pay that amount.


The gavel has cracked and you have se­cured your ve­hi­cle. You are not done. Your car is still within the auc­tion house walls and much still needs to hap­pen be­fore your car is re­leased. There needs to be proof of pay­ment within 48 hours after bid, and the auc­tion house will pre­pare ve­hi­cle pa­per­work.

This is also where penal­ties can be in­curred. If you skip the com­pul­sory 48-hour pay­ment win­dow you then for­feit the auc­tion fee.

You can snap up a bar­gain on the auc­tion floor, but make sure you know what you’re get­ting.

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