Car Buying Part 1 - Going For Broker.
I recently upgraded both vehicles in my family, and it was an experience far more enjoyable than the first few times I bought a car. I did one deal myself, I used a car broker for the other. And I can honestly say going with a car broker was absolutely fantastic, hassle free, and it saved me a bunch of cash. I'll outline some pointers for buying a car on your own in the next article, but in my opinion, a car broker saves you money, time and hassle. Think of it like using an accountant to do your taxes. (See also: Car Buying Part 2)
Finding a Broker
Now, like any other professional out there, you need to make sure you're dealing with an established broker with great BBB credentials and a ton of positive feedback. I found one close to me, I'm sure you will too. Edmunds.com had the following tips for finding the ideal broker:
- Make sure the broker is licensed to legally sell cars in your state.
- Ask questions to the company or individual about how they find deals on cars, what background they have in the car business, and if they receive any money from dealerships or carmakers for making deals.
- Look for feedback about other customers' experiences with the broker on auto chat boards, like Edmunds.com's Town Hall forums.
- Confirm that broker fees are charged on a flat-rate basis to ensure that you get the best deal on your car.
- Check with any wholesale clubs or auto clubs to see if they offer car-buying services free of charge.
The process is simple, but it does take a little time. It's not like you can just walk into a car brokerage and drive away with a new vehicle. You also need to know EXACTLY what you want. It's the job of the car broker to find your vehicle based on the specs you give him or her.
In our case, we wanted a 2005 Pacifica Touring with very low mileage for under $19k. We tried everywhere, and couldn't find a thing. So, we called a broker. Two days later he had the car for us. The perfect car. Only 16k on the clock, the right color, the right model, an immaculate interior, and to top it all off, it was the newer 2006 model. We figured we'd get hit with a huge price tag. Not at all. As we asked, it was just $18,000. We were shell shocked.
We figured the broker would hit us with a bunch of fees. But, his fees were already incorporated in that figure. All we needed to pay for was the title and registration, plus membership to a credit union (just $10) to get us the low, low financing figure of just 5.75% fixed APR. We also got the maximum for our trade, a figure we had no idea we'd be able to get. The broker also has skills to haggle with local dealers to get you a great price for your trade. And this is what basically makes the broker so valuable.
What you're getting is a professional who knows the car industry inside and out. He or she knows all the tricks car dealerships use, and so, they don't use them. Negotiating is a broker's expertise. The broker will hammer away at a price until you get what you want for the price you want. It doesn't matter if you think you need to replace the blinker fluid in your headlights...however clueless you are about cars, a broker will get you something great for a low price. And because they rely on referrals and word of mouth for their business, they want to work as hard as they can for you. It makes good sense for them.
Do You Need a Broker?
Of course, you can cut the broker out and buy yourself. But you need nerves of steel, a lot of background knowledge, and a cast-iron will to get what you want. Dealership pressure is serious. They may be smiling, but the crux of the matter is this: They want to give you as little as possible for your trade, and sell you a car at sticker price (which you should never, ever do). I'll cover that in my next article. Until then, if you are thinking of buying a car, you can do a whole lot better with a good broker on your side. Happy, safe driving, everyone.
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