You Own One or You Know Someone Who Does
In recent years, there has been an explosion in popularity for aftermarket modifications on all kinds of vehicles: trucks, Jeeps, cars, RV's motorcycles, SUVs, you name it. In fact, according to the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) the U.S. automotive aftermarket is a $287 billion industry (2017) and is projected to continue growing at 3.6% annually through 2020.
For many owners, a vehicle is merely transportation with standard styling, accessories and colors, but for a growing segment, customizing their Ride is a way to make it uniquely their own. We've all seen that beaming look of pride, confidence and passion when they are cruising down the street or displaying their Ride in the driveway, but what about when its time to part ways and sell it? The old saying holds true even for our most beloved custom Rides, "all good things must come to an end."
You Put How Much Money Into It?
For whatever reason, there comes a time when you want or need to sell your customized vehicle, and if you are like most owners, you start to reminisce about all the good times, but you also start adding up all the money you spent to be unique. Surely, there are lots of buyers out there who will love your Ride as much as you do, and will pay fair value for the "premium upgrade investments" you made, right? The answer is, "yes, but." Determining fair market value and finding a buyer for unique, custom vehicles is far different than selling a standard, non-custom vehicle and requires a unique approach. So, what is the smart way to sell your custom car, custom motorcycle, custom truck, custom Jeep or custom RV?
Everyone Has A Unique Opinion
When it comes to establishing the average resale value of "unique" custom vehicles, everyone seems to have a "unique" opinion on the best approach. After all, there is nothing "average" about your custom, specialty Ride, and that is what you liked the most about it, but now it is a source of concern. Here are a few commonly held opinions about the various sources:
Traditional Dealer (trade-in allowance or wholesale cash offer)
If you choose to sell through a traditional dealer who offers you a trade-in allowance or cash offer be aware that the lowball swings even lower on custom vehicles. The reason? Traditional dealers like predictability when it comes to their "buy low, sell high" inventory model. There are no price guide values or auction averages to compare your Ride to others because yours is unique. With uncertainty, the traditional dealer will almost always go low to ensure profitability when it sells.
If trade-in or cash offer is the only option given your situation (need quick cash), you should get at least 3 offers from area dealers and ask each one about their "methodolgy" for calculating the value of the modifications separately from the stock version of your Ride, so you can determine the level of fairness.
Pricing Guides (NADA, Kelly Blue Book, Others)
Deer in the headlights. You won't get a direct answer from these otherwise helpful sources when it comes to establishing resale value for custom vehicles. These market guides are set up to track and predict the resale values of every day common, non-modified vehicles. They are good at knowing the market value of a 2013 Toyota Camry, or a 2011 Harley Davidson Street Glide or a 2013 Itasca Sunova Motorcoach.
About the best you can do with these guides when you own a custom vehicle is use them to estimate the resale value of the stock version (assume no modifcations) of your vehicle, then do your best to project and add the depreciated resale value of the modifications.
Private Seller (You)
Selling your custom vehicle privately will always get you more money than a tradtional dealer trade-in or cash offer. This is even more true for custom vehicles because of the low swinging lowball effect mentioned earlier.
The next question is: Are up to the challenge of selling it yourself? Click here to Take the Test
If you answered yes to all of the test questions and plan to go it alone, it is important for you to properly estimate the total resale value (vehicle and modifictions). As previously suggested, use a Pricing Guide like NADA or Kelly Blue Book to determine a fair market value for a comparable "stock version" of your vehicle, then add your best estimate of the depreciated value of the custom modifications. A word of caution on valuing the modifications - owner bias (lets call it separation anxiety) usually gets in the way and leads to overvaluation. A good rule of thumb is to depreciate the original cost of the modications at the same rate as the used vehicle itself. A $3,000 lift kit put on your truck three years ago is not worth $3,000 today, eventhough it still looks as good as the day you brought it home.
Retail Consignment Dealer (Consignment Pro)
If you answered no to one or more of the test questions, the smart option is to use Retail My Ride to find a Consignment Pro near you that specializes in selling your type of vehicle. Compared to traditional dealers, Consignment Pros are a very unique type of licensed motor vehicle dealer that can provide you with a full market analysis and side-by-side valuation comparison for your custom vehicle. In other words, most Consignment Pros will inspect and appraise your vehicle, then consult with you about its wholesale value and retail consignment value. Since Consignment Pros are in the retail business, and their objectives are aligned with yours (find a buyer and get the most money), they are a valuable resource that provides you with the convenience, safety and expertise of a traditional retail dealer, and also the higher resale dollars of a private sale or better.