Used Car Prices Fall But Selection Remains Tight

The average used-vehicle listing price at the end of November was $26,091. That’s $1,065 lower than the average a year ago.

Dealers remain slightly short of the supply of used cars they prefer. But inventory is relatively stable, and prices are declining slowly. Still, this isn’t all positive news for shoppers.

“Used-vehicle inventory volume at the start of December was roughly unchanged from last month and last year, indicating the used-vehicle market is relatively balanced,” said Chris Frey, Cox Automotive senior manager of Economic and Industry Insights. “It has been stuck in the 2.2 million to 2.3 million range for some time now, which is generally considered tight.

Cox Automotive is the parent company of Kelley Blue Book.

A New Normal of Limited Selection

Kelley Blue Book analysts expect used car prices to remain generally high for several years. Automakers built about 8 million fewer cars during the pandemic. Used car inventories could remain low for years as those cars never find their way to the used market, keeping prices higher than Americans had grown accustomed to.

The market has somewhat adjusted to a new normal, with wholesale prices falling despite supply limitations.

Most Affordable Cars Hardest To Find

The most affordable used cars remain the hardest to find – dealers have just a 37-day supply, on average, of used cars priced under $10,000. Days’ supply increases with every higher price segment, with used cars priced over $35,000 the easiest to come by.

Honda dealers have the thinnest supply in the industry, with just 43 days’ worth of used cars in stock on average. Toyota and Subaru follow at 44 and 46.

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