Make us your home page
Instagram

Used car prices up in Tampa Bay area

Though the market is down, used car prices are up at places like Bill Currie Ford on N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Though the market is down, used car prices are up at places like Bill Currie Ford on N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.

For a lesson in supply-and-demand recessionomics, look no further than a Tampa Bay used car lot.

The demand for cheap cars is up. But the supply is down because fewer people are buying new cars, meaning fewer trade-ins.

The result: Used car prices are up.

"We used to call them 'dollar cars,' " said Eli Karem, a used car manager at Tampa's Courtesy Nissan. "But now that 'dollar car' is a $2,000 car."

While the average used car is still cheaper now than a year ago, prices are on the way up, according to Adesa, a nationwide auto auctioneering firm.

Between December and February, the average cost of a used vehicle increased hundreds of dollars. Even compact sport utility vehicles and full-size pickups, nearly unsellable during last year's gas price hike, ballooned by about $1,000. Only luxury used cars lost value.

Rosemary Daft, 80, has felt the jump.

Six months ago, she spent $8,000 on a used Hyundai Accent for her granddaughter, Stephanie, a 25-year-old mother who commutes to nursing school.

This week Daft went looking for a car for herself at Jerry Ulm Dodge Chrysler Jeep. After surveying the fleet — pricier this time, she said — she clutched a Styrofoam cup of soda and took cover from the heat.

She peered out at the lot as she waited for her loan to be approved.

Daft's trade-in, a 2002 Dodge Intrepid, didn't net much, she said. Coupled with a recent increase in her homeowner's insurance, the car payment had her worried about her budget.

"I said, 'Well, we'll just have to back down a little bit and look for something a little older,' " Daft said. The 2007 Chrysler Sebring she settled on cost about $11,000 — $3,000 more than she hoped.

Most used cars begin as trade-ins, which have become scarce as fewer people buy new, dealers said. Drivers also are keeping their cars longer, flaws and all, rather than take on another monthly payment.

"What we're seeing is people trading out of necessity rather than want," said Joe Fitzgerald, a used car manager at Stadium Toyota in Tampa.

That decrease puts a strain on supply, especially as shoppers aim for affordability, dealers said.

Mike Valdes, a used car sales manager for Bill Currie Ford Lincoln Mercury in Tampa, said prices have jumped 15 percent since January.

"Our prices are sky high compared to what they were at the beginning of the year," said Scott Harris, a wholesale buyer for Jerry Ulm Dodge Chrysler Jeep. That could be good news for drivers willing to trade, he said.

"There's nothing that rolls that I won't put a figure on," Harris said. "The consumer wins in the end."

But not when it comes to the bill. Shoppers are shouldering most of this price increase, dealers said.

"Dealers couldn't shrink margins any more," said Tom Webb, the chief economist for Manheim, a national wholesale auctioneer. Prices likely will continue to climb for several months, he said.

Despite the price uptick, dealers said they didn't expect used car demand would U-turn anytime soon. Since 2003, Floridians have bought three times as many used cars as new ones, according to data from CNW Marketing Research, which studies the auto industry.

Car manufacturers and the federal government, trying to rebuild confidence in the domestic auto industry, have worked to entice buyers away from used vehicles. Tax credits for new car buyers and a government-backed warranty program for new General Motors and Chrysler vehicles could "lead to as many as 100,000 new car sales," President Barack Obama said Monday.

Those efforts won't help Daft.

"It's just a tough market out there," she said as she took a break from paperwork and stretched her legs near the dealership door.

Drew Harwell can be reached at dharwell@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3386.

Used car prices up in Tampa Bay area 04/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 6, 2009 8:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. To catch a poacher: Florida wildlife officers set up undercover gator farm sting

    Wildlife

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, state wildlife officers created the ultimate undercover operation.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  2. CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    Demonstrators protests the passage of a House Republican health care bill, outside the the Capitol in Washington, on May 4. The House took the unusual step of voting on the American Health Care Act before the Congressional Budget Office could assess it. That analysis was released Thursday and it showed the bill would cause 23 million fewer people to have health insurance by 2026. Many additional consumers would see skimpier health coverage and higher deductibles, the budget office projected.
  3. Florida Specialty Insurance acquires Pinellas Park's Mount Beacon Insurance

    Banking

    Tens of thousands of homeowners who were pushed out of Citizens Property Insurance for a private carrier since 2014 are finding themselves changing insurance companies yet again.

  4. Marijuana extract Epidiolex helps some kids with epilepsy, study shows

    Health

    A medicine made from marijuana, without the stuff that gives a high, cut seizures in kids with a severe form of epilepsy in a study that strengthens the case for more research into pot's possible health benefits.

    An employee checks a plant at LeafLine Labs, a medical marijuana production facility in Cottage Grove, Minn. [Associated Press (2015)]
  5. St. Pete Economic Development Corporation lures marketing firm MXTR to town

    Economic Development

    St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation has lured its first big catch to St. Petersburg — MXTR Automation. The digital marketing company announced Wednesday that it will fill 20 "high-wage" creative positions within the next 18 months, as well as open an office in downtown St. Petersburg this year.