Used Car Retail Price vs. Blue Book Price

January 27, 2012

If you plan to purchase a used car or to sell a car you own, you'll need to be familiar with used retail price strategies and fair pricing levels in your area. When determining a reasonable price to expect to spend or charge for a used car, you'll find that knowledge of the blue book value of the vehicle, as well as an understanding of the original MSRP for the car, will prove helpful in your calculations. Follow the process below to determine a fair used car retail price for a vehicle of your choosing.

Find the Kelley Blue Book Value

The Kelley Blue Book is a resource for calculating values of vehicles based upon their prior use and their current condition. It is a helpful tool for monitoring the continuously updating prices of a variety of different vehicles. Simply visit the Kelley Blue Book website in order to search for your particular vehicle or the car you're interested in purchasing. You'll need to know the make, model and year of the car in order to do so. The website is a free service that can be used as frequently as you'd like for no charge.

The Blue Book value of a vehicle is a standard suggested price. Like the MSRP, or manufacturer suggested retail price, it is not a hard and fast guarantee every vehicle of the make, model and year you search for on the Kelley Blue Book site will be listed at that price. In fact, cars may range quite a bit lower and a bit higher than the price you find as well. This has to do with local market fluctuations as much as it has to do with the quality of a particular vehicle. The next step toward determining a fair used car retail price is to analyze your own market.

Compare Prices

To continue determining the fair used car retail price for a particular vehicle, search for listings of the car for sale in your state, city or neighborhood. Look first for private listings to get a sense for how individuals are pricing their vehicles. The more listings you can find, and particularly of cars that are of the same make, model and year and similar condition, the more accurate your assessment will be. Take an average of the prices you find to determine how close the used price from a private seller in your area is to the Kelley Blue Book value.

You can also average the cost of the same type of used car as listed by used car lots in your area as well. This will further help to determine whether your particular location tends to price the vehicle above or below the Kelley value.

When pricing your own vehicle or purchasing one, it is also important to keep in mind the quality of the vehicle and its condition should play some role in adjusting the price from the Kelley value.

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