Here in the US, at the time of this writing, quite a lot of places are observing a strict lockdown. Virtually all non-essential businesses are still closed down in many states. While restrictions are easing at the moment and businesses are slowly opening again, there is no telling when things will get back to normal; likely, should the pandemic worsen beyond control, quarantine measures could become harsher again.
What does this mean for car buyers? More specifically, can you buy a car at an auction during the lockdown? The short answer is yes you can. Continue reading for the long answer and more details on the restrictions that apply.
What does the lockdown mean for buyers?
While the full details of restriction measure may vary from state to state, in general, you are allowed to buy cars (new, used, or salvage) during the pandemic provided they are deemed as ‘essential’. This includes a wide range of car sales, some of which are listed below.
- Any pending vehicle transaction that occurred before the issuing of the lockdown
- Vehicle purchased to replace a totaled vehicle or a damaged one that is tool impractical to repair
- To extend a lease that is expiring
- Any vehicle that is purchased for use in transportation of essential workers, provided that they don’t have any other means of transportation.
Apart from that, there may be further state restrictions in place related to transaction activity. Below are listed the most common ones.
- On-site visits to an auction or dealership must be by appointment only.
- The said appointment must be scheduled remotely
- Only one employee should be presented at the site at any one time and only during the duration of the car sale
- The buyer must be able to certify that the car purchase fits the definition of an ‘essential’ purchase as described above.
- The entire activity has to be conducted in a manner that complies with the social distancing and sanitation measures set up by the state and federal authorities.
Check with your local state laws to make sure you are fully aware of the measures in place before deciding on a car purchase.
Physical Auction Sites are Still a No-go
Just because you are technically allowed to buy a car at an auction during the pandemic doesn’t mean that you might be able to, at least conventionally. In many parts of the United States, physical auctions are likely to remain closed for the foreseeable future. The reason for this is obvious; physical auction sites are a large public gathering with people in extreme proximity to each other. Under the backdrop of a viral pandemic, holding such events can be extremely dangerous and help further spread the virus.
Even if the state allows for physical auction to take place for some reason in the midst of an on-going pandemic, it is simply not wise to risk your health by attending the event for hopes of buying a car for cheap.
With that said, physical auction sites aren’t your only option for finding good cars at affordable rates. Continue on to the next section.
Popularity of Online Auction Sites
While overall car sale activity has dropped down significantly all over the country, visits to online auction sites have, in fact, actually increased. This makes sense as most would-be car buyers are at home and so online car auction sites represent one of the few open and accessible venues for them to see and buy affordable cars during the lockdown.
However, that’s one part of the story. The other part relates to the recession caused by this pandemic. Both because of heightened uncertainty and decline of disposable income, most car buyers are unlikely to risk huge spending on their vehicle purchases. Hence, online auction sites remain the best option for them to buy cars at a great value. Furthermore, the recession has led to more and more cars becoming auctioned by their previous owners as they downsize their expenses. With more cars and fewer bidders, the average price at which a car is auctioned off has decreased, appealing to many car buyers.
There is also the added advantage of safety and convenience. Online auction sites, because they are entirely digital, are a much safer venue to look for vehicles during the pandemic. Plus, you don’t have to physically go anywhere. The entire process takes place online and you have your car delivered to you through a reliable carrier.
Why the Lockdown May be the Perfect Time to Buy
Because of an ebb in demand, used car prices have seen a drop. However, this isn’t likely to remain so in the future. When quarantine measures truly start easing and business activity begins to rise again, we can see a huge surge in prices of used cars, brought both by a sudden uptick in demand due to people wishing to avoid using public transport.
Furthermore, because of the disruption in the global supply chain, new stocks of cars would be more expensive and difficult to acquire, in turn, coupled with lower spending power in general, would further pushing demand for used cars and thus their prices.
Provided you can certify your purchase as essential, the lockdown is the perfect time to buy with average prices being considerably low at the moment.
Of course, finding a reliable carrier service that can deliver your car to your address may be a bit difficult given the situation. However, you can use a transport matching service like HaulMatch to find trusted carriers still operating for your area and avail the best rates for shipping.
As mentioned before, online auction sites remain an easily accessible venue for buying used cars at the most affordable rates. There is no telling exactly when things will get back to normal. Rather than wait on your purchase, consider taking a look at our listings where you will find plenty of great auction deals on car makes you prefer.