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Selling a Car: Why It's Hard to Sell a Car with Limited Appeal

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2014

If you're interested in a new car, you may be tempted by an unusual color that you happen to like. Or maybe you're drawn by an unpopular vehicle that's offered with a huge discount. But before you sign the papers, you should consider what happens when it's time to move on to your next car. Selling a car can be difficult if you've chosen an undesirable vehicle.

Color Is Important

Let's say your favorite color is yellow. Why not find a yellow car? Or maybe you're tempted by a car painted in bright orange or electric blue. Of course, you certainly can choose those colors, but you may regret it when it comes time to re-sell.

When it comes to colors, it's often hard to sell a car in an unusual color. Most shoppers searching for a nice family car, for instance, won't want one in a bright color. That means your pool of potential buyers is smaller if you've chosen pink, yellow or something similar. The result is that you may have to lower your price to find a buyer.

Of course, there are a few exceptions, like the fact that color is highly dependent on vehicle type. A bright orange sports car, for example, may have a lot more appeal than a bright orange Toyota Camry. But we strongly suggest keeping resale value in mind before choosing a color that may not appeal to everyone.

Discounted for a Reason?

Are you getting a new car at a price that's too good to be true? It might not be due to your stellar negotiating skills. Instead, you may have found a vehicle that dealers are willing to sharply discount due to poor sales -- and that may mean trouble when the time comes to re-sell.

As an example, let's say you've found a new car priced at $40,000 that a dealer is selling for $32,000. That sounds like an excellent deal, as you've received 20 percent off the original price. But maybe the discount was due to the car's lack of desirability, or the fact that it will soon be replaced with a newer model. If that's the case, your deal won't seem so good when it's time to sell. A car that isn't sought after when it's new likely won't pick up demand when it's used, and that may mean trouble when it comes to selling.

Our Take

If you're concerned about resale value, you may want to consider leasing. A car's projected resale value is built into a lease rate, which means that you won't pay more or less if the car you've chosen loses a lot of value. Leasing also gives you more flexibility with color choice, as most leases cost the same regardless of color. And when the lease is up, it's the dealer's responsibility to sell the car, not yours.

You also don't need to worry about color and desirability if you plan to keep your car for a long time. If you're going to own your car for 10 years, buy what you want. By the time you're ready to sell, the color or vehicle choice likely won't mean much on the used market -- and you will have enjoyed a long ownership period in the car of your choice.

But if you aren't planning to lease, and you don't keep your cars for very long, we strongly suggest thinking twice about choosing an unusual vehicle or a strange color. After all, selling a car is rarely an easy process -- and you don't want to make it any more difficult for yourself.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Selling a Car: Why It's Hard to Sell a Car with Limited Appeal - Autotrader