Fleet News

Changing profile of second-hand car buyers could impact the market

Second-hand car buyers are having to factor in lower incomes and decreased job security when purchasing a vehicle, according to research from LeasePlan UK.

The research, which surveyed 2,000 UK adults, found that the average household income of a second-hand car buyer now stands at £39,104, down from the figure of £41,888 recorded in 2009.

To compound this drop in potential spending power, the number of buyers describing their job status as ‘very secure’ has fallen by 5% in the last three years, from 30% to 25%.

As a consequence of both of these factors, value for money was unsurprisingly the most important buying consideration for the individuals surveyed.

This changing profile of the average used car buyer is likely to have an impact on the market over the coming months and, potentially, years ahead.

Despite falling spending power and potentially increasing tax liabilities, just over half (54%) of buyers checked the road tax band of a vehicle before purchase.

While this does represent a 2% increase since 2009, buyers apparently remain unconvinced of this factor’s importance during the buying process.

Given that the Government’s emissions-based taxation system is currently influencing the types of vehicles being leased, this appears surprising.

Any increasing take-up of smaller vehicles as a result of these measures will dictate the type of stock reaching the used car market in the next two to three years.

One consideration that does remain highly influential throughout the second-hand buying process is colour.

As in 2009, yellow remains the least desirable colour with almost two thirds (65%) of respondents highlighting it as their least preferred colour. Purple and green were the second and third least desirable colours respectively.

James Hopkins, head of remarketing at LeasePlan, said: “At a time when incomes are still being squeezed, it is important that second-hand car buyers understand all of the costs associated with purchasing a vehicle.

“An attractive initial purchase price may come with a sting in the tail in terms of road tax and maintenance charges.

“It is essential that the buyer understands these potential costs, as well as purchasing the car from a reputable source.

“A full service history should always be requested, and this is one benefit of buying former fleet vehicles, as this documentation should be readily available.

“Potential sellers should also be aware of the current market conditions when calculating the potential resale value of their vehicle.

“Colour may seem trivial, but as we have seen, it can be a huge factor in buyer choice.

“The broader selling advice also extends to large fleet operators, who should always consult with their leasing company to ensure their pool of vehicles will retain strong residual values.”

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