Many car buyers cringe at the thought of negotiating with a salesperson. Too often this means hours of back and forth as the salesperson says, "Let me ask my manager" yet again, then returns with, "No, we can't do that." An automotive purchasing agent keeps you out of the pressure cooker by making the deal for you. You must pay a fee for the service, so it's important to work with the agent effectively.
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Choose the car you wish to buy, including make, model, colour and options. Do this by visiting dealerships for test-drives, if you can resist their sales efforts. Otherwise, rent the models in which you are most interested. A car rental lets you try out the vehicle under a variety of conditions with no pressure. You will then be able to tell a purchasing agent exactly what you want.
Locate several potential purchasing agents. Many advertise in the Yellow Pages, newspapers and car-buying publications, but a personal referral is best. Ask friends and coworkers, and check online forums at automotive sites like Edmunds.
Research the automotive purchasing agents on your list. Check their standing with the Better Business Bureau and make sure they have any licenses or business permits required in your state and local area, Edmunds news editor Mike Hudson recommends. Make a short list of legally qualified agents with good BBB ratings.
Call the automotive purchasing agents on your short list and ask how much they charge. Some charge a fixed amount, while others expect a percentage of the amount saved, based on the sticker price, according to the Better Business Bureau. Make sure they work with several dealerships and are not receiving any compensation from the seller. A good agent works exclusively for your interest.
Select an automotive purchasing agent and sign a contract that specifies all the important points of your agreement, including the fee. Make sure the formula is clearly spelt out if it's a percentage of the price or savings rather than a set amount. A legitimate agent will not object to a written contract because it protects both of you.
Tips and warnings
- Many wholesale clubs and the AAA Motor Club offer car-buying services, Hudson said. They typically charge less than a private purchasing agent. He added that you often can get a good deal on your own by working directly with a dealership's fleet manager or Internet manager instead of a salesperson.
- An automotive purchasing agent is not likely to be able to get a good deal on a very popular or scarce car model. Dealers don't have to negotiate aggressively on fast-selling cars so you won't get a good return on the agent fee.
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