Do I Need a Pre-Purchase Inspection?

Pre-Purchase Inspection - Close up of chrome and paint at trunk and rear lightsMisaligned ChromeModern car purchasing has changed dramatically from the traditional methods. Online purchasing and a shift towards buying classic cars as investment pieces has made the process both more convenient and more open to misuse.

The FBI and the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York recently uncovered a $4.5 million fraud ring that involved classic cars, indicting 25 defendants for running a nationwide scheme posting fake classic cars for sale online. Victims of the ring would respond to ads online and then be directed to shell corporations to pay for a car they would never receive. In most cases, the money lost was never recovered, and some victims were left with no choice but to continue to pay auto loans without ever receiving a car.

Pre-Purchase Vehicle Inspection - Note tear at bottom edge of door panelDoor Panel WearAAG’s professional inspection process has exposed fraudulent sellers in the past. Dishonest sellers won’t return calls when they discover we’ve been asked to complete an inspection. Or, agents have arrived at the address given by the seller to find empty lots and no cars for sale.

With the convenience of one-click shopping and online auctions comes the need to do your homework: the best way to protect yourself when buying a car is a pre-purchase inspection from a trusted and certified professional.

Pre-Purchase Car Inspection - 1959 Cadillac Fins1959 Cadillac FinsYou may be asking yourself “Do I need a pre-purchase inspection? I can probably go look at the car myself.” An experienced inspector can be your eyes and ears and will provide a detailed report that documents the vehicle’s condition. A professional pre-purchase inspection should include a market value consultation based upon the vehicle’s condition and documented history. An inspection can save you the cost and time of travel should you decide this vehicle is not the one that you want to purchase.

Make sure your pre-purchase inspection agent has been certified, and check to make sure they also provide the following:

    • The opportunity to speak with your inspection agent before and after the inspection in case you have questions.

    • A copy of the title or registration, pertinent receipts and information should be provided to the inspector by the seller.

    • Documentation of all parts of the inspection, including notes on condition, originality, test ride results and paint gauge readings.

    • Detailed photographs that provide first-hand evidence of the car’s complete condition, inside and out. Don’t rely on the seller’s photos alone.

    • Data tag and vehicle identification numbers should be documented and decoded.

    • Ask if your pre-purchase inspection company can provide a certified appraisal for insurance or bank loan purposes if you decide to purchase the vehicle.

    • A value consultation with the master appraiser should be included. AAG utilizes its centralized database along with 30 years of experience to determine an accurate market value for the vehicle.

Pre-Buy Car Inspection - Photo of rust under mat in trunk
Under trunk mat
Pre-purchase inspections often uncover areas of concerns that may give you room to negotiate with the seller’s asking price.

Find an agent who is located near the vehicle in need of a pre-purchase inspection. AAG agents are located nationwide, allowing you to get a pre-purchase inspection promptly.

Before Buying Car Inspection - 1969 Lola T70 ReplicaLola CockpitIt is best to hire an inspector from an independent service, not one affiliated with selling or brokering cars. Pre-purchase inspection agents should work for you, rather than working to their own or the seller’s benefit.

Before you buy your next classic car, antique car or any other type of vehicle, have an independent pre-purchase inspection completed by an experienced, tested and certified AAG agent. AAG’s pre-purchase auto inspection service gives you the confidence to buy or walk away.

Read more about the case behind this article here.

Car Appraisal Process – How it Works

The Car Appraisal ProcessSo you’ve decided to get your car appraised. Understanding how the car appraisal process works can help you to find the right appraiser and get the most out of your appraisal.

A vehicle appraisal is a written estimate of the current value of the car based on the experience and training of the appraiser and current market trends. Appraisals are usually performed when a vehicle is bought, sold, or insured, and by collectors and hobbyists. An appraisal is also useful for determining the tax value of a donation, in estate cases, or in legal disputes after an accident.

Auto Appraisal ProcessAn appraisal will generally cost between $75 – $500. It may be tempting to choose the least expensive appraiser available, but the cheapest appraisals may be performed by inexperienced appraisers and produce inaccurate results. A standard appraisal should include:

– Date and location of the inspection
– Date the valuation is established
– A full, detailed description of the vehicle
– Methods used to establish a value
– Purpose of the appraisal
– Description of the appraiser’s qualifications including certifications
– Appraiser’s signature and physical address

Process of Car AppraisalsIf your car or vehicle is involved in a legal dispute or insurance claim, you may want the appraiser to provide expert testimony. This will incur additional charges.

Before your vehicle is appraised, it’s best to clean, wash and wax the vehicle and be sure that all basic maintenance has been completed (oil changes, fill all fluids, new filters). Be sure there is enough gas to take the appraiser on a test ride.

A certified value appraisal should include an onsite inspection of each auto by a certified agent. This inspection should include photographs of the vehicle and the agent should also gather pertinent historical information as available from the owner. A master appraiser should review all research and valuations, preferably with a centralized database at hand to ensure consistency.

Best Car Appraisal ProcessA properly performed appraisal done by a certified, experienced agent is always your best choice. An accurate estimate from a trained professional allows you and others to get the best value from your vehicle.

Interested in a Car Appraisal for your vehicle, or for a potential buy? Check out AAG’s Vehicle Appraisals and call us to schedule!

Classic Values: Determine the Value of Your Classic Car

Classic Values: How to Determine the Value of Your Classic CarClassic car collectors know that one of the most rewarding things about collecting vintage vehicles is how these cars tend to retain their value with proper maintenance and care. More importantly, they are aware that to protect the value of their investments, it is vital to know the value of their classic car, and to document it properly with a professional appraisal.

Determining the value of a classic car is very important, but it is not always a straightforward process. Restoration work (or the lack thereof), condition, rarity, connection to famous people, and region can all have an impact on the value of your classic car. Most collectors prefer to allow a professional appraiser to prepare an appraisal report for them because vintage vehicle appraisals can be very difficult for novices in the field. Classic car appraisals require an understanding of the required procedures used to determine a fair value in this specialty marketplace.

Condition and Restoration
In the classic car market, condition plays a major role in the determination of the value of the vehicle. Restored vehicles usually command higher prices than similar unrestored vehicles, but the quality of restorations and even the origin of the restorations can create a wide variance in value. This makes a professional appraisal a must for most collectors, some of whom may restore their own vehicles, or work with famous garages and custom shops.

Faithful record keeping of all maintenance and restoration work can be a great way to document the quality of work and to ensure that materials are original or correct. Restoration records should show materials and work done as well as how often the vehicle receives basic maintenance. Furthermore, maintenance records can show that there were no accidents, and that the vehicle was not left unattended for long periods of time.

Running vehicles will always fetch higher prices than those that are non-functional. It is equally obvious that dings, scratches and other defects in the exterior of the vehicle will cause the car’s value to drop. Decals, hood ornaments, and other trim can also have an effect on the valuation of a classic car.
Comparable Pricing
Location and region can have a surprising effect on the range of classic car values in the market. Professional appraisers study fair market values of comparable vehicles within the same regional market, which may or may not include online and auction prices, depending on the availability of these services to regional buyers.

Determining Classic ValuesOnline auction sites sometimes provide additional details that help to create an accurate picture of comparable prices for the same make and model of vehicle in the regional marketplace. It is important to understand comprehensively how regional markets change – the same convertible might fetch a high price in Southern California while in Boston it attracts relatively few buyers.

Rarity
When demand is greater than supply, values increase. Obviously classic cars are generally rarer than other vehicles on the market. Among these, there are even more unique cars that are more sought after and harder to find. Basic economics will lead you to the probability that the fewer produced and the harder it is to find a car, the more its price will inflate to reflect its rarity.

Certain limited edition vehicles are also in high demand in spite of their more recent vintage. A car can be highly prized and sell for an extremely high price at auction or in a private sale. In this case, rarity is actually the selling point for the car. In such cases, it is extremely useful to have a professional appraiser help to determine the value of these one-of-a-kind vehicles.

Provenance
Sometimes a car is more valuable because it belonged to or was used by a famous person or celebrity. Vehicles associated with famous people have been known to capture as much as 10 times their fair market value. Celebrity cars are often auctioned for charities and selling prices can often be much higher. This can make it very difficult to determine your classic car’s value without professional assistance and experience.

Celebrity ownership is just one way that provenance can affect value. Restoration garages with a reputation for high standards of quality can demand a higher value range than cars restored to similar standards by an unknown mechanic. Cars customized by famous names are often more sought after and can get a higher price.

Since the classic and vintage car market tends to retain value, it is fundamentally important to document your repairs and restorations and to have professional classic car appraisals done to protect your collector cars.

Car Valuation: How Much is My Car Worth?

How much is your car worth?At some point in every car owner’s life, you ask yourself “How much is my car worth?” Car appraisal is the process that allows us to answer this question, but not all appraisals are the same. An inaccurate appraisal can cost you a lot of money – so what is the best way to get the right value?

Online Price Guide tools provide averages of different models but they are not the value of any one particular vehicle. To establish the value of a specific vehicle, factors unique to that automobile like condition, maintenance history and originality should be considered.

When you appraise a car, the following factors should be accounted for:

Make
The make or brand of your vehicle can significantly impact its value, even if the car condition is excellent. Some cars have a reputation for rapid depreciation while others tend to hold steady in value. These “high performers” tend to carry anywhere from 45-60% of their value during the first three years of ownership while other brands drop to 35% during the same period.

Modifications
If you’ve added aftermarket parts to your vehicle, it can affect the market value of the car, in many cases negatively. Buyers worry about quality of workmanship, maintenance and warranties for non-standard parts.

Condition of the Exterior
Everyone knows that dings, scratches and other marks on the vehicle will affect a car’s value negatively. If you’ve had a custom paint job, that may also detract from the overall value of the vehicle. And remember – bumper stickers and decals count as defects in the vehicle’s paint job.

Car ValuationCondition of the Interior
Worn out mats, scratched interiors, torn or stained upholstery – these things are a sure-fire ticket to lowered value. And keep in mind that while the dog hair covering the seats may be removable, as long as it’s there, it lowers your car’s value.

Mechanical Condition
If you have kept a record of all maintenance on the vehicle, you can help retain value – not only will this record help to prove that the car has never had any major issues or accidents, but will also show that the vehicle has been well cared for, even if it spends most of its time in a garage.

Transmission, Preferences, Etc.
Factors like automatic versus manual transmissions, sport utility capabilities, convertibles, and other preferences can affect the value of a vehicle. The price you can expect to receive may change regionally – for instance, a convertible might fetch a high price in California, while in Colorado, a sport utility vehicle with manual transmission may be more popular.

Mileage
By and large, fewer miles means higher value. In some cases, a low mileage car may actually be in very poor condition and fall well below the average appraisal for the same vehicle with more miles, but in general low mileage is a benefit. The flip side to this truth is that a car may be in mint condition with 225,000 miles and still not sell well.

So now you’re probably scratching your head and thinking “This is really hard! And I should probably go vacuum my car….” You’re right, it’s not as simple as you might think to accurately determine what your car is worth.

You may need an appraisal to sell your car, or you may need it to receive the right benefits from an insurance claim or even in legal matters. If you are a collector, a thoroughly documented appraisal is a valuable asset. You know it’s important to get the right information – how do you get a dependable appraisal?

It is extremely important to get an appraisal from someone qualified and experienced in the field. Accredited appraisers for cars are a rare commodity, and looking for an individual appraiser by yourself can be a daunting task. Your appraiser may be called to defend his or her report in court, making certification and methods extremely important.

Auto Appraisal Group has a team of experts that have been certified and practice correct procedures and process of appraisal. Appraisals performed by just one person can only reflect the opinion of that one person. The certified agents at AAG are experienced, extensively trained and work closely with the Master Appraiser while utilizing AAG’s centralized database. This vast base of vehicle knowledge and appraisal experience allows us to create a comprehensive and accurate evaluation of your vehicle.

6 Things to Consider Before you Buy a Classic Car

  1. Documentation. Who? What? When? Where? Ask for copies of restoration receipts, maintenance records.  Who did the work? What was done? When was it done? Where was it done? Where has the car been driven? How has it been stored?  Other documents could include a copy of the build sheet from the manufacturer, window sticker or Maroney label.
  2. Ownership.  How long has the current owner had the car? Do the owners know its history or are they flipping it, trying to make a quick sale?
  3. Ask to see the title. What is the vehicle’s ID number?   Google it.  Old advertisements may still be available online. Look at both sides of the title. Is the title in the seller’s name, is it on consignment or are they floating the title? Look for words like salvaged, rebuilt, or a reissued VIN.
  4. Why is the car for sale?  How much will they take for it and why that much?
  5. Is the seller willing to have the car inspected by an independent appraiser?  If so, tell them you’d like to wait to make an offer on the car until after the inspection if it’s still what you’re looking for.  If they say OK, then move forward with the inspection.
  6. Never pay cash unless you are in a bank or safe location during the transfer of the money.

Don’t miss the Ford Nationals

Red Mustang at the Ford Nationals

Watch for record attendance at the next all-Ford Nationals in Carlisle on June 5-7.  This year we celebrate 50 years of the Ford Mustang and that includes honoring 50 years of the Shelby GT350  as well as a special GT-40 display.

As one of America’s favorite collector cars, the Mustang has seen an uptick in value as its anniversary celebration continues. The Auto Appraisal Group will host two seminars focused on value trends for the Mustang and Shelby GT350 over the past 50 years.  Come early to get a good seat and be prepared to participate in our classic car value “Fact or Fiction” fun.  Friday’s seminar is at 12 Noon and will review 50 years of Mustang values. Saturday at 1PM we will cover 50 years of Shelby values.

Don’t miss this special weekend presented by Carlisle Events, one of our country’s largest and most welcoming car show hosts.

 

Spring is Here, Buyer Beware

Prepurchase Inspection

Good news! It’s time to start getting collector cars out of storage and on the road. Or maybe you’re looking for the car of your dreams to drive, show and enjoy.

Buyer beware! Over the last few months, we have seen an increase in so-called brokers selling non-existent cars. We have been asked to inspect cars at locations that are empty lots or abandoned buildings with no car or seller in sight.

Do not send a deposit on a car that you have not seen in person or had inspected by a certified appraiser.  We also have a list of brokers and businesses that do not want to allow an inspection of whatever they are marketing.  We can only guess that they do not want us to report on the true condition of the vehicle.  Some will only allow inspections by “their inspectors”.  We recommend that no inspection means “no sale”. Additionally, you should have control over which independent appraiser you hire.  You want someone to work for you, not to help them sell the automobile.

There are only a few professional dealerships that offer any type of warranty on collector cars. Most dealers, brokers and private sellers offer their vehicles “As Is – No Warranty intended or expressed. Where is, as is. You buy it you own it”. A prepurchase inspection will and has saved our clients tens of thousands of dollars. Buying a car sight-unseen could lead to owning a money-pit. An experience no one wants.

We never tell our clients to buy or not to buy. We tell our clients what we see and document the condition of the vehicle including a test ride.  Most cars look better in a photo from 10 feet away than up-close and in person.  And most ads include some type of embellishment about condition.  After all, they’re trying to shine the best light on it.   We present the facts, with no emotional or financial involvement.

Reputable sellers expect you to want to see what you are buying before you negotiate your purchase. Be a wise consumer. Know what you are buying before you make a deal, not after. Call us for a prepurchase inspection. If you’re looking at a car at a dealership that has proven to be unwilling to allow inspections or is uncooperative when we get onsite by not being able to find keys, move other vehicles out of the way or won’t even charge a battery to allow us to test features, we will tell you before we take your order.  Our interest is your best interest.  Let us know how we can help you.

Lipstick on a pig

Prepurchase inspection by Auto Appraisal Groupphoto credit style.com

A dressed up pig with lipstick is a pig dressed up with lipstick.  Put lipstick on a pig and it’s still a pig. We are often asked to inspect pigs that have been dressed up by their sellers in hopes that buyers will think they are buying a race horse, but they are still pigs. We understand that sellers are trying to sell their pig while buyers are trying to buy a race horse.  When we are hired as an independent inspector, we will not tell our clients that a pig is a horse.

Of course we are talking about cars and our role as an objective inspector when we perform prepurchase inspections.  On the rare occasion that a seller does not want an independent inspector to take a look at their stock before a buyer commits to a purchase, then perhaps they don’t want you to know about the dressed up pig.

Fortunately, most sellers are open to allowing an inspection. Every car stands on its merits. We document exactly what we see and call them as we see them.  For many years, resellers have used Auto Appraisal Group’s services when they buy autos to resell. Many more buyers use our service to help them decide which of the many vehicles available is the one that best meets their needs. Don’t let your dream car turn out to be a nightmare. Protect yourself. Our service saves our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. It also helps collectors to find the right automobile for them. Be a wise consumer. Know what you are buying before you buy it.

What’s up for Collector Car Values in 2015?

Well, here we are in December 2014. Another year slides by with the collector car market in an upbeat attitude. Great cars in above average condition are still desired by many auto enthusiasts worldwide.

Now it is all about condition, correctness, speed, power and documentation. That’s right, documentation. Autos being offered for sale with documentation are by far the most desirable autos out there. When buying or selling you want to know “Who restored or built it, what was done, when was it done and where was it done” This is the recurrent theme for great auto values. Documented autos are bringing 30% to 50% higher values then undocumented autos. Autos with good documentation are very hard to find. Good autos are documented by who, what, when and where. Mediocre autos have a lot of unanswered questions. This can make all the difference in value.

Always document your automobile with a professional. Keep service records and restoration receipts. Keep the old original parts and paperwork. Keep build sheets, window stickers, and sales brochures. If you need to have your auto documented, give us a call to set-up an appointment. An auto appraisal becomes part of your vehicle’s history as well as documenting its current condition and value.

I anticipate more record sales in Scottsdale in January 2015. Come to our “Value Trends Seminar” in Philadelphia at the AACA Annual Meeting on February 13th to review auction sales and identify trends for the coming year.

Happy Motoring & Merry Christmas!

Larry

Finally – Fall Car Show Season

pedal car carlisle

Here we are again; it is time for two of the biggest and best fall events on the east coast. Fall Carlisle – “a collector car swap meet, car corral, and auction” – is held October 1-5, at 150 acre Carlisle, Pennsylvania fairgrounds and is celebrating its 40th year. AAG has been the official appraiser for the last 25 of those years.  With over 8,000 vendor spaces and 2,000 cars in the car corral, you have plenty of opportunity to haggle with the seller and get your best price. The AACA’s Regional Fall Meet at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania is October 8-11 and has been around since 1955 and is a great place to locate all things car related. There are 9,000 flea market spaces, with 3,300 vendors and 1,100 car coral spaces with 200 to be sold the week of the Fall Meet.

Carlisle has an auction on Friday & Saturday of the show and plans to see over 300 cars cross the auction block. This event has produced good cars at great prices and could be another great opportunity to find the car you want.  Average sale is about $15,000 per auto offered. There is always something in everyone’s price range at this auction. Here is your chance to buy and sell. All Fall Auction consignments are free unless sold.

Hershey’s AACA Meet is considered one of the largest antique auto shows and flea markets in the United States. I have been attending the event for 25 years and rarely get to see the entire show during the 4-day event.  All spaces are hosted by AACA members and true to tradition, only vehicles and parts for autos 25 years or older may be sold. Show field conditions have improved greatly over the years and there is no longer any worry about a mud-fest when the weather doesn’t cooperate.  In fact, last year the sun came out just in time for the Saturday morning car judging event.

Stop by and see us at both shows this fall. We will be on the Midway once again at Fall Carlisle and just inside the Green Field in spaces GAI 11-13 as you enter from the car corral at Hershey. As always, we provide on-site pre-purchase inspections and appraisals upon request. We look forward to seeing you and the great deals you will find at the show.

Happy Motoring,

Larry Batton