Used car prices swell by almost 30 per cent during COVID-19

Used car prices swell by almost 30 per cent during COVID-19

Used car prices have swelled by a record 30 per cent following a stock shortage, but economists are suggesting now might be the time to sell as the rollercoaster ride appears poised to take a turn.

Cars sold in September on the auctions platform Pickles fetched prices that were 29.9 per cent higher in September when compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the Datium-Insights Moody’s Analytics Price Index.

The 3.8 per cent monthly increase was the smallest gain posted in five months of consistent rises, Michael Brisson said, senior economist and associate director at Moody’s Analytics.

“All else being equal, now is the best time to be selling a used car, truck, SUV or ute on record,” Mr Brisson said.

Take a 2017 Ford Ranger with about 115,000kms on the clock, for example. Where the average sales price was $24,000 in May, a comparable model fetched about $31,000 in August.

Lower running costs contributed to the trend of people spending less on passenger cars than they did on SUVs. Passenger car prices grew by 2.1 per cent, where SUV and truck values increased by 8.7 per cent.

The demand is about to be met with supply

The upswing in used car prices was yet another flow on effect from the COVID-19 pandemic, after it temporarily shut down worldwide vehicle production in March.

And this shortage of new cars halted people from trading in their old ones, ultimately propping up the prices of the used cars available for sale.

“The limited sales and thus limited used-vehicle supply continue to support the price increases in the wholesale used-vehicle market,” Mr Brisson said.

Meanwhile, demand for cars held strong as people shy away from travelling on public transport due to fears of catching and transmitting the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Looking forward, Mr Brisson said he expects used car prices to stop rising.

“The unprecedented and unexpected ride that used-vehicle prices have taken over the past five months will come to an end,” he said.

“Still, the price gains that have been realized are not expected to be given back quickly.

“Once dealers know what they can get for a vehicle they are not likely to drop prices back down without a major shift in market fundamentals.”

People are looking to spend, but are they looking to spend on cars?

Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ bank economists have noticed a striking rebound in people’s confidence to spend money while the country continues to charter the unfamiliar waters of a pandemic.

But people’s appetite to buy cars has “softened” in September, Stephen Halmarick said, chief economist at CBA.

“Motor vehicle spending intentions lost momentum again in September, coming back down off their Covid-19 highs seen in June,” he said, in the bank’s Household Intentions Spending report.

“While both the number of personal loan applications and value of motor vehicle transactions increased marginally in September, the number of Google searches was down on the month.”

A softening in demand for used cars would contribute to stagnating car prices, supporting the forecast made by Moody’s Mr Brisson.

30 months of falling new car sales

For 30 straight months, sales of new cars have been on the decline.

About 68,985 new vehicles were sold in September, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) -- a drop of 21.8 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier.

Chief executive Tony Webber said the decline was owed to natural disasters, unfavourable exchange rates, a stock shortage and an uncertain economic future.

But the prospect of scrapping the responsible lending obligations of banks could help the industry turn the tide in their favour, as it would make it easier for people to gain finance.

“Freeing up restrictions around financial lending will act as a stimulus for Australian industry,” Mr Weber said.

“As we strive to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a more efficient flow of credit to consumers and small business will be a strong stimulant to the economy.”

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Learn more about car loans

How to get a chattel mortgage?

Both businesses and individuals may use a chattel mortgage, provided that the car is being used predominantly for business purposes. 

To apply for a chattel mortgage, you need to first consider your options and choose a suitable lender that meets your requirements. Once you have selected a lender, you can apply for the loan online by filling out a form. If the lender doesn’t offer an online application process, you can either call them or visit their nearest branch. 

After you’ve applied, the lender will ask you to supply documents that confirm your identification, income, job profile, etc. If everything is in order, most lenders will arrange the loan’s settlement, so all you need to do is pick up your car!

What is depreciation?

Depreciation is the reduction in the value of your car. Almost every car loses value each year, although at different rates. As a guide, cars depreciate on average by 14 per cent per year in the first three years and then eight per cent per year after that.

What is a car loan?

A car loan, also known as vehicle finance, is money that a consumer borrows with the express purpose of buying a vehicle, such as a car, motorbike, van, truck or campervan. Car loans can be used for both new and used vehicles.

What is resale value?

The resale value is the price you could realistically charge if you were to sell your car. Almost every car loses value each year, although at different rates. As a guide, cars depreciate on average by 14 per cent per year in the first three years and then eight per cent per year after that.

What is vehicle finance?

Vehicle finance, also known as a car loan, is money that a consumer borrows with the express purpose of buying a vehicle, such as a car, motorbike, van, truck or campervan. Vehicle finance can be used for both new and used vehicles.

What is equity?

The equity is the share of the car that you own. For example, if you take out a $15,000 loan to buy a $20,000 car, you have $5,000 of equity in the vehicle, or 25 per cent. (The lender has the other 75 per cent.) Equity changes over time as you pay off your loan and your car depreciates in value. For example, two years later you might now owe $10,000 on your car, which might now be worth $15,000. In that case, you would still have $5,000 of equity in the vehicle, but your share would be 33 per cent.

What is an LVR?

The LVR, or loan-to-value ratio, is a percentage that expresses the amount of money owed on the car compared to the value of the car. For example, if you take out a $15,000 loan to buy a $20,000 car, you have an LVR of 75 per cent. LVRs change over time as you pay off your loan and your car depreciates in value. For example, two years later you might now owe $10,000 on your car, which might now be worth $15,000. In that case, although there would still be a $5,000 difference between the size of the outstanding loan and the value of the car, the LVR would now be 67 per cent.

How much is your car worth?

If you already own a car, you could potentially bring down the cost by selling your car in the process. Before that happens, though, you’ll need to find out how much your car is worth.

One of the first places to find this value is to research the value of your current car, giving you an idea of roughly how much it’s worth in its peak condition.

There are plenty of websites that offer a free online valuation, allowing you to enter your car’s make, model, year, badge and description, with results listing a price guide based on both selling your car privately and through a dealership.

Of course, dealerships will try to profit on your trade-in by buying it for less than they can sell it, making it highly unlikely that you’ll get the same price selling a car to a dealer as you would selling a car privately.

However, private car sales can be costly and can take months to sell, making car trading more convenient with a guaranteed return, even if you may not be able to realise the total value of your car’s worth.

Remember that everything is negotiable. If the dealership is offering you less for your trade than you wanted, try to negotiate elsewhere to gain that money back. Start by negotiating on the price of the trade and then ask them if they can give you a further discount on your new car.

How much is my car worth?

If you own a car, it may be something that can help you bring down the cost of your next vehicle purchase through its sale. However, before you can do that you’ll want to find out how much your car is worth.

Your car’s worth can depend upon various aspects, including:

  • Age
  • Condition
  • Model and make

A great starting place for aspects of this includes websites that offer online valuations, allowing you to enter your car’s make, model, year, badge and description, with the listed results displaying a price guide based on both selling your car privately and through a dealership.

Both have pros and cons, as cars can be very profitable, something that will no doubt impact any chance you have to make the most of your car’s value upon sale. Dealerships will try to profit on your trade-in by buying it for less than they can sell it for, so you shouldn’t expect the same price selling a car to a dealer that you would necessarily get selling a car privately.

What do I need to apply for a chattel mortgage?

Chattel mortgages are a form of secured car loan for businesses. The lender will set up a mortgage, while you take the car’s ownership. When the mortgage is paid off, you own the car. The borrowed amount is repaid through regular installments over a fixed period of time.

To qualify, you’ll have to meet the following chattel mortgage requirements:

  • The car should be used for business purposes at least 51 per cent of the time.
  • You must hold a valid Australian Business Number (ABN).
  • You must show you can service the loan on time
  • Identity proof
  • Financial records, such as profit and loss account and balance sheet
  • Details of the vehicle you want to buy
  • Bank statement for your business

What is the luxury car tax?

The federal government imposes a luxury car tax of 33 per cent on the value of a car above a threshold. As of the 2017-18 financial year, that threshold was $75,526 for fuel-efficient vehicles and $65,094 for other vehicles. So a fuel-efficient car worth $80,000 would be taxed only on the difference between the threshold and the value of the car ($4,474), rather than taxed on the entire $80,000. Similarly, an ordinary car worth $70,000 would be taxed on the $4,906 above the threshold, rather than the entire $70,000. The luxury car tax is paid by dealers that sell or import luxury cars, and also by individuals who import luxury cars.

What is a loan-to-value ratio?

The loan-to-value ratio, or LVR, is a percentage that expresses the amount of money owed on the car compared to the value of the car. For example, if you take out a $15,000 loan to buy a $20,000 car, you have a loan-to-value ratio of 75 per cent. Loan-to-value ratios change over time as you pay off your loan and your car depreciates in value. For example, two years later you might now owe $10,000 on your car, which might now be worth $15,000. In that case, although there would still be a $5,000 difference between the size of the outstanding loan and the value of the car, the loan-to-value ratio would now be 67 per cent.

Can you get a chattel mortgage with bad credit?

Getting approval for a chattel mortgage with bad credit may be possible, given ‘chattel’ (usually a piece of equipment or car) is put up as security for the loan. That means if you fail to repay the loan, the creditor can recover the loaned amount by repossessing and selling the car or piece of equipment. This differs from unsecured car loans, where the asset is not tied to the loan and cannot be taken if you don’t meet the repayments. 

Can I buy a car as a student?

Buying a car is a huge financial decision, and shy of marriage and purchasing a house (or perhaps around the world travels), it may be the biggest financial decision you make. But if you’re looking at your empty pockets, don’t despair! Your dream of owning your own car could become a reality, if you look for and compare the right car loans for your circumstances.