Used vehicles typically depreciate in value over time, not appreciate. But currently, used vehicle prices are rising.
In the D.C. area market, the typical price of a late-model used vehicle is 19% more than that same vehicle was worth a year ago: An average of $4,200 more. Used vehicle prices in the D.C. area are appreciating slightly faster than the national average of 16.8%, but it is still a phenomenon in markets across the country.
“These are depreciating assets almost every time, every day, every year. To see them going up in value over the past 12 months, and in a widespread manner across markets and most vehicle models, is something we’ve never seen,” said Karl Brauer, executive analyst for new and used car search site iSeeCars.com.
Forces driving used vehicle prices up include the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage that has forced auto manufacturers to reduce new vehicle production, and record demand for vehicles, both new and used.
There is a whole new contingent of car owners and car shoppers than since before the pandemic, much of it driven by the shift in the way people want to control their commutes, shunning public transportation and ride hailing services.
The used vehicles that are most likely to be appreciating tend to be trucks and sports cars.
“It is fascinating that you have these two ends of the extreme going up. I think it’s because a lot of people want the flexibility and functionality and security they get when they know they have a truck,” Bauer said.
“Or, they are seeking joy in the past year when they’ve been stuck in the house and one of the few things they could do is go out and drive, so they’re buying convertibles and coupes that are fun to drive.”
The average price of a used Chevrolet Corvette has risen 33.9% in the last year, according to iSeeCars research.
There are still deals in the current market, but iSeeCars says buyers need to look harder. There are some models that have not gone up as much as others.
“Normally you’d want to look for cars that have dropped in value, but in this past year, the best you can do is cars that haven’t gone up a lot,” Brauer said.
iSeeCars analyzed more than 1.2 million used vehicle sales in April. It has posted lists of the top 10 used cars with the greatest price increases, and top 10 with the smallest changes, online.
Below is a list of used vehicles with the biggest price increases in the D.C. market: