As the end of the year approaches, many car dealerships must meet annual sales quotas by clearing out their inventory.
This means that if there are 2022 models still on the lot, your chances for a good deal may be possible. The question is: Who is in the driver’s seat, you or the dealer?
Answer: It depends upon the inventory of the dealer and the make and model of the car you are interested in purchasing.
SELECTING A DEALERSHIP
“The first step in getting the best deal on an automobile is doing the research,” recommended Jim Salvie, owner of Berkshire Mazda in Pittsfield. “Do all of your homework first.”
Having been in the business since age 19, Salvie said the automobile buying process has changed. Before online websites existed, the process would take a week or two since you had to go into the dealership for each step in your research and negotiation. Now, it takes a few hours since all the information you need is available online.
Consumers are now more prepared before stepping into the dealership and feel less anxious. But in terms of finding a deal with 2022 automobiles, Salvie disagreed with this premise. In the case of certain makes like Mazda, there is a wait even for 2023 models. This means there is less bargaining power because of the low inventory of 2022 models, in his opinion.
“But even 2023 models are hard to come by,” he said.
For example, Salvie had a customer who came in for a specific 2023 make and model, and wanted to think about it. When that customer decided to purchase it, the car was already sold. This happened seven times. The supply of 2023 models can be very volatile.
Right now with supply issues, a dearth of computer chips, and fewer workers in the manufacturing supply chain, inventory is low. However in a few years, Salvie is confident this will change for the better.
Once you complete your research, your next step should be selecting a dealership.
Jeffrey “Shep” Shepard, sales team leader from Pittsfield’s Johnson Ford, believes that “reputation is the key in this selection process.” His family business began in 1916 in Pittsfield.
One way to determine a dealer’s reputation is by looking at its Google reviews. From his perspective, Shepard cites the number of repeat customers seen throughout the years that his family has been in business.
“We not only see loyal customers who continue to buy cars from our business, but even see the children of their family members. We are a longtime business who looks to meet our consumer’s purchasing needs including finding the best interest rates.”
FINANCING: DEALER OR PERSONAL BANK?
Financing is another issue. Both dealers believe that using their dealership’s financial institutions to borrow money is beneficial to the purchaser since they have the ability to research multiple banks.
They believe that their long-term relationships with banks, locally and nationally, are a plus.
However, Jodi Rathbun-Briggs, senior vice president and chief lending officer of Greylock Federal Credit Union, believes using a local financial banking institution has certain inherent advantages.
First, you are doing business with people you know, who live in your community and would be more likely to work with you, should an unfortunate situation occur. What if you lose your job or cannot work due to a temporary illness or financial setback? Or, find yourself behind on your payments? A financial institution in a place like Detroit, for example, does not know you on a personal basis.
“A local financial institution will listen to your story; you are not just a number. Also, money is being reinvested back into the community,” Rathbun-Briggs said. Jobs are being created or maintained by local borrowers doing business in their community. Also, these local financial institutions are using their profits for community projects.
The last question is: Should you ever use your second mortgage instead of taking out an auto loan? Rathbun-Briggs believes this is not a good financial decision. “You should not tie up long-term assets like a home for a short-term loan like a car,” she said.
The average car owner will have the loan paid off in five years, she noted. Why attach a lien on your home equity for your car? It doesn’t make sense.
DIY NEGOTIATING NO MORE: THE CONCIERGE BUYING ADVOCATE
The term cognitive dissonance or “buyer’s remorse” is what most of us feel after purchasing a new car. Human nature dictates that we could have done a better negotiating job. But what if someone negotiated on your behalf? Enter the concierge buying advocate.
A concierge or buying advocate finds, locates and negotiates the best deal it can on behalf of a client, said co-founder Corrie Rumple of Your Car Buying Advocate (YCBA). This concierge car buying service charges a flat fee of $799, or $99 an hour. This service also can include: a test drive for the intended vehicle, finding an optimum bank loan rate and getting the best price for your trade-in vehicle.
“Online auto dealer websites do not consider the buyer a customer, but rather a product. For these online websites, the customer is the auto dealer,” cautioned YCBA co-founder Mike Rumple.
But, unlike many other concierge buying services, Rumple’s company does not take any “kickbacks” from dealers. This eliminates any conflict of interest since YCBA acts in a fiduciary capacity for their clients, he explained.
Rumple emphasized that if you have the time and the researching skills, and you are not uncomfortable doing your own negotiating for the purchase, you do not need his firm’s services. He also does not claim to save you money if you can do the same research his firm does.
He cautioned to be aware of questionable online selling practices. For example, some online websites reflect a quote for a particular automobile. Then, the customer calls and finds out that this automobile has some additional accessories which then increases the actual price of the online price. Rumple recommended anytime you negotiate, make sure you get the details in writing.
YCBA’s website is bit.ly/3VHkzlp and also has a few YouTube videos under the homepage giving a few negotiating recommendations. His website explains the process and whether you would benefit from their service. It also gives you contact information so you can speak with him or a YCBA representative to determine if this service is best for you.
THE ELUSIVE 2022 MODEL
So do any 2022 models even exist on the dealer’s lot? As I stated earlier, it depends upon the dealership and the model you are seeking.
Earlier this week, I conducted my own online research for 2022 models, using the websites of 13 new car dealerships in the county. Some dealerships had just a few cars available and others had many more. Each website identified the MSRP (manufacturer’s retail price), which will be helpful when starting your research.
YOUR NEXT STEPS
First, you must decide which vehicle you want. Then, do your research. Look online to see what 2022 and 2023 models are available and whether you are willing to pay more for the “bells and whistles” for the 2023 models.
Next, shop around for the best bank rates so you can determine whether you want to go to a bank or have the dealer do the legwork.
At this point, you should decide whether or not you will use the services of a concierge buying advocate to do a more extensive search if you do not have the time to do all of this on your own.
Finally, after you make your purchase, don’t look back in the rearview mirror and second guess yourself. Just open the windows — yes even in the winter — breathe the fresh cold air and enjoy your ride!
RX TIP FOR SAVING: In the holiday spirit, my tip is: Take advantage of the holiday event “Mingle & Jingle in Downtown Pittsfield” on Saturday, which includes 10 percent off of goods and services from participating retailers and restaurants. Find out more at bit.ly/3HyaH9j.