Recently I have been desiring a particular vehicle that is difficult to come by in the current used car marketplace of Northern California. After a month of searching, I finally found a model that had everything I wanted in it, but I thought the asking price was a little high. So I cooled my heels and waited, banking on the seller eventually agreeing to my price as they needed to sell the car more than I needed to buy it. My carefully laid plans were upset however by another individual who snapped the vehicle up before the price had a chance to come down to my level.
Initially I was sad but grateful that the vehicle would be loved as I thought the price it was purchased at would be too high for the vehicle to become a parts car or even to be flipped. I was proven wrong the next day when I found the car on Facebook Marketplace, completely unaltered, now for twice the price. It was at this point that I became enraged, especially as this scalper did not disclose in the marketplace post the glaring deficiencies that this vehicle had, namely that it was a salvaged vehicle with an uncertain past.
I asked myself how this individual thought they could get this kind of money for the vehicle when it had been on sale for half that amount for two months by the previous seller. I then recalled that other models of this vehicle had recently been seen on eBay selling for around the price the scalper was asking. What could have happened was that the scalper saw the eBay value and thought they could simply purchase this junked vehicle and immediately flip it, despite the fact that the junked vehicle shared little with its eBay counterpart short of the make & model. This scalper did not seem to calculate that the vehicle’s condition and status may have factored into that price.
I have been watching this marketplace listing to see what would happen over the following days. While the price has dropped a little initially, it still sits several grand over the original asking price. The price stopped dropping on the same day that marketplace informed me that activity on the listing was increasing and that “the vehicle may sell soon”. This is to be expected for a vehicle of this make & model at this price point, but of course no reasonable person would purchase the vehicle once they discovered the truth of its condition. Or would they?
I fear that there are individuals with more money than sense who will acquiesce to this scalper’s price and reward them for their behavior. I fear that this will be the case for all models of this vehicle, and that therefore if I intend to own one I must also acquiesce to an increased price for fear of it otherwise being snatched up by an enterprising charlatan. This artificial price inflation will drive up the prices for all malaise vintage vehicles and price me out of the market entirely. It makes me angry and makes me feel helpless. I wish there was a way to containerize this market so that arbitrage will not occur and prices can stay reasonable for those who actually love and want to own these cars.
I am still looking for my desired vehicle and keeping an eye on this scalped one, although the price has stayed flat for three days now and I fear it may already have been sold. Another similar vehicle has recently come up for auction and I intend on bidding on that one in the next week although I fear that I once again will be priced out of it by a scalper, despite the fact that its mechanical status is completely unknown.
What are your suggestions for dealing with scalpers in the malaise car market? Should I just pay the inflated prices and count myself lucky that I’m not into Ferraris? Is this the new normal? I hope that this inflation of the malaise car market will entice companies to begin making parts for these vehicles again so I can finally replace my rotting window belt sweeps.