There are times that I really wish there were a course in how to make one-time purchases. The first time I bought a house I was incredibly naive and did just about everything in the book wrong. Since I bought in 2001, I didn’t get caught buying at the top of the market, but I easily could have. With big purchases like homes, pretty much everyone else involved in the transaction is not on your side and they’re all looking to get their fair share of your hide in the transaction.
The same is true for items that are still considered big-ticket items, like vehicles, campers, etc. They don’t have quite the illiquidity of real estate, but you’d better love the color and the features of what you buy from the dealer, because there are hefty transaction costs to overcome if you change your mind.
Catch the salespeople when they’re motivated
Certain times of the year are good times to buy big-ticket items, especially items that are sold by a commissioned sales force, like:
- Near the end of a model year. The new ones are coming on, and they need to make room.
- Near the end of the month or quarter. They have sales quotas to hit.
- Near the end of the day. They may make concessions because they’re hungry and want to go home.
Knowing this puts the buyer at an advantage. The buyer has something the salesperson wants: the means to another sale. If the salesperson wants the sale badly, there can be some deep discounts made.
Always hold the hammer
Because of all of the furlough mess around here, people had a bit less to spend this summer, and luxury items like camping equipment probably were among the first purchases that people postponed.
One of our friends from church went to look at pop-up campers today. He ran across what appeared to be a very motivated seller. Because sales had been that bad, he was willing to slash the price in half on some of the models. This brought the price of a new 6-person pop-up down to $5k.
My friend’s ace up his sleeve, however, was that he knew someone who was selling a used one for $800. (My very, very best money-saving advice at work.) The features of the new one weren’t enough to overcome that kind of price difference, so he passed.
Absent that very inexpensive option, though, he would have had substantial negotiating power with that much coming off the top right off the bat.
Have you scored a big win on a big-ticket item? If you have, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!