Here’s the script for the “Trade In Appraisal” video above:

You’ve decided that you want to buy the car that you drove, and if you want the convenience of the dealer taking it off your hands, now is the time for the sales manager to make a trade in appraisal.

This is where the sales rep will take your keys and invite the sales manager to come and look at your car for a valuation.  In many cases, if you’re on a new car, the used car sales manager may be the one looking at it.  Most large franchised dealerships are divided into new and used cars as separate divisions with their own goals and budgets.  If the dealership wants it, in many cases, it will be the used car department offering money from their budget to buy it from the new car department.

Yes, it’s the same dealership with the same ownership, but when you have multiple sales, service, and parts departments, along with a body shop and detailing all with their own management teams, you’ll find that each of those departments have completely different functions and objectives, so they’re treated essentially as separate businesses under the same umbrella.

In fact, when you have the service department perform an oil change, that department actually buys the oil filter from the parts department as though they are separate companies.

So now I like to go out during the appraisal just so I can meet the sales manager and size them up.  They will go around your trade and look for any dings or scuffs.  They’ll make a point to touch them, so you know that they know about any defects.  Their job is to devalue it as much as possible in front of you.  Your job is to not really offer up any information that will serve to give them any perceived leverage in the transaction.

trade in appraisal

If they ask about how any particular defect happened, all you say is, “Well, it’s a used car.”  They may ask how much you want for it or how much you think it’s worth and all you’re going to say is, “I like what Kelley Blue Book said it’s worth.”  Even though we already covered that, Kelley will likely only show you a price that a dealer will pay if you’re at sticker for their car.  We’re doing it this way to show that we’ve done some research and are looking for an increased valuation.

They may use this opportunity to ask you what you owe for it.  Now isn’t the time to tell them as it may impact what they’re willing to pay you.  Even though you should know and potentially have an account statement or title on you if it’s free and clear, just tell them that you want the highest offer, and they will need to call for a payoff anyway.

Just so you know, sales managers don’t have a whole ton of wiggle room on what they’re going to offer you.  Basically, it can only usually go down from a starting point.  They can put any car into their market database and see what they’re going for at auction.  Sometimes you may have a high-value car, something popular in the market, or something rare.  Those would be the cases where you may get a higher valuation during your trade in appraisal

Otherwise, it will be within a thousand dollars or less of what the computer spits out.  Remember that a franchise dealer will only keep a used car for sale themselves if it’s worth more than several thousand dollars.  Otherwise, all you’re going to get is somewhere near what the auction house provides for pricing estimates.

Let the sales manager do their trade in appraisal.  You keep your actual intentions on lockdown and don’t let them make you think it deserves less than an Edmunds valuation provides unless, of course, your trade is in really bad shape. 

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