Is there a “best time” to buy or sell a used vehicle?

When it comes to selling or buying a pre-owned car, several factors come into play. However, one often overlooked aspect that can significantly impact these transactions is understanding the optimal times to engage in such processes.

According to Rikus Blomerus, Chief Marketing Officer at WeBuyCars, strategic timing can greatly influence outcomes such as maximising returns in the pre-owned car market. He highlights that, “Buying a used car towards the end of the year is considered advantageous because new vehicle manufacturers often support increased sales to avoid carrying inventory into the next year. They issue various incentives to sell more units, resulting in more trade-ins and available vehicles in the market. This makes the end of the year a good time to buy and the beginning of the year a good time to sell.”

Understanding how depreciation impacts your vehicle is crucial when deciding to sell, advises Blomerus. “Each vehicle follows a unique depreciation curve, with different brands and models losing value at varying rates. Some vehicles, particularly those known for reliability and strong brand reputation, hold their value better over time. It is crucial to assess the market valuation of your vehicle and understand your financial standing to sell when the equity (sales price minus outstanding finance) is favourable.”

Blomerus says the demand for vehicle categories also fluctuates throughout the year. For instance, SUVs often experience heightened demand during school holiday periods when families seek spacious vehicles for travel. The beginning of the calendar year often sees a higher demand for entry-level vehicles, ideal for matric leavers and those starting tertiary education or a first job. Understanding these trends can help buyers and sellers align their transactions with periods of increased demand, potentially securing better deals.

Regional market dynamics also play a major role. Urban areas typically experience more dynamic supply and demand forces due to higher population density and market activity. Being aware of regional market trends can give buyers and sellers a strategic advantage.

It is crucial to note that these trends are not solely influenced by seasonal factors but also by broader economic indicators. Factors such as interest rates, consumer confidence levels, and the dynamic balance of supply and demand in the market play major roles in shaping the pre-owned car market dynamics. Understanding and monitoring these economic indicators is essential for making informed decisions when buying or selling a used vehicle.

He emphasises the significance of preparedness when buying a used vehicle, highlighting that, "While specific periods of the year may present better deals on pre-owned cars, it is essential for buyers to be financially ready, conduct thorough research, and feel prepared before committing to a purchase."

“When armed with this knowledge, consumers can confidently navigate the complexities of the pre-owned car market, ensuring they are well-prepared to capitalise on market opportunities and achieve their desired outcomes”, concludes Blomerus.