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How North Texans Can Find the Best Price on a Car in a Seller's Market

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The latest data available shows double-digit increases in vehicle prices in North Texas during the pandemic.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for the North Texas region, new car prices rose 11.5% in the 12-month period from March 2020 to March 2021. Used car prices for the same period rose 10.4%.

So, how can North Texans find a deal? An expert weighs in on how shoppers can navigate the market.

Why are prices up, are they staying up?

Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds.com explains several factors came together to impact vehicle prices.

“You're seeing a series of things that no one ever could have cobbled together in the crystal ball. It’s the chip shortage, it’s the demand, it’s the vaccination rollout,” Drury said. “At the same time, demand for travel has gone up. Rental agencies, they, too, want those cars.”

On top of that, the amount of demand for personal transportation is "through the roof," Drury added.

Drury said automakers don’t expect production challenges to unwind until later this year or possibly early 2022.

“If you have two or three more years of life in your vehicle, don't worry about it. It's not going to apply to you. But, if you're looking at something in one to three months, you should start searching sooner than later,” he said.

Where to find wiggle room

Drury said consumers aren’t seeing as many dealer incentives, but it’s not all bad news. Consumers can take advantage of low interest rates and financing rebates.

If you have a vehicle to sell or trade in, you’re in a better position to negotiate. Drury recommends you track the value of your vehicle weekly.

“Whether you choose to sell peer to peer, sell to a dealer, sell to an online retailer, sell to a CarMax, however you go about it, please check your value and then check to see which dealers will give you how much," Drury said. "You're going to see more variability there than in the price of your next vehicle."

If you need something in the short term and can’t find exactly what you want in your price range, Drury said leasing may be an option.

“Try to get a short lease, something even in the two-year range. You can even try to negotiate a one-year lease,” he said. “Play your options and do your research because it's not all dire.”

'I needed a car immediately'

After a car crash earlier this year, Dallas-based chef David Anthony Temple didn’t have a lot of time to shop.

“Insert crazy pandemic and insert I needed a car immediately,” Temple said.

His wish list included a gently used SUV, no older than a 2019 model year. Temple hoped to find one within his $20,000 budget.

“I probably wasted about 18 days of my life just driving, looking, shopping on my phone at night, every day,” he said.

Temple said he reached out to friends in the car business and eventually one steered him into an on-budget 2016 Audi Q5.

“It's a little bit older than I wanted, but I got a great deal. I got a good price,” he said.

Temple said if you’re looking for a vehicle, shop around, do your research and be open to compromise.

“I'm not going to get what I want. So, I'm going to deal with finding a car that's going to work. And I have a car that I love,” Temple said.

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