Selling Your Used Car In Singapore: 5 Insider's Perspectives

16 Nov 2015

What does a car broker do?

Steven Lim is a broker by trade. And by trade, I mean the automotive trade.

Never heard of a car broker before? Well, like property agents, a car broker makes a living from marrying up buyers and sellers.

Said Steven, “That’s what my job is, I’m the middleman. So if you want to sell your car, instead of you calling 20 dealers, I do the footwork.”

“If you are buying a car, what I usually do is I talk to my client, understand their needs, wants, and budgets, etc. Then I make recommendations - I think you can go for A, B, or C models. If you are agreeable, I will link you up.”

Steven has a select list of used car dealers and friends in authorised dealerships that he works with.

“If you are looking for a used car, I’ll check through my list of used car dealers to see if any have what you want. If one does, then I’ll first check out the car. If the car is okay, I’ll then bring my client to deal.”

“If it is a parallel imported model you want, I actually deal with some parallel importers so I’ll bring them there. If it is an agent car, for example from Kah or Borneo Motors, I will refer the case to my friend working inside (the authorised dealer), and I’ll bring my customer there to meet my friend.”

How did Steven get started in this trade?

“I’ve been in the car trade full time since 2002. I spent my first 3 years working for people.  I’m lucky I worked for a used car dealer who was also a Volkswagen sales agent.  My boss also did parallel imports. And he also did exports of used cars. In that one company I actually learnt quite a few new things.”

“Subsequently I left the company and joined another company who solely exported used cars. After 3 years of working in these two companies, I came out – from 05 until now, on my own."

And how does Steven make a living from this?

“I earn commissions from dealers. My clients are friends – friends refer friends, clients refer friends, it’s all through word of mouth. I also have clients that come back to change cars – one client has changed 3 cars with me.”

Assured of his immense experience and background in selling and buying cars, I now had some other questions I wanted answered from his insider’s point of view. And for this week, it’s this one:

"Should I Sell My Car Myself or Sell It To A Dealer?"


Steven said, “It depends on how you look at things. Actually most of the time I won’t advise owner to do their own sales." And he offered 5 reasons for this advice.


Reason #1.       Owner’s Pride & Depreciation

“Number one it is your own car. You have feelings for your car - there’s this thing called owner’s pride.”

With that, Steven said, you would usually think that your car is in very good condition, and can fetch a higher price.

“9 out of 10 people who want to sell their cars on their own feel that their car is worth more. So whatever the dealer offers them, they think they can sell for higher,” said Steven.

And, according to Steven, when you have that mentality, chances are, even if the right offer comes along, you may not let go.

“Because you always think that you can fetch a higher price – owner’s pride. So a dealer may offer you 30k, while you think you can sell at 40k. If somebody comes along and offers 38k, you may think my car easily 40k, rubbish la 38k.”

“But good offers don’t always come by,” warned Steven.

Plus, “Do know that as days go by, the longer the property is exposed in the market, the more it will depreciate. It will never appreciate. It doesn’t mean that if you advertise for two months the value stays the same.”

And nowadays buyers are smart. “They will say, “You advertise so long already that means you got no good offer. And I’m offering you a very good price!” They even know when you placed your ad!”

To sum it up, you may miss a good opportunity because of how you feel about your car, even while your car’s value depreciates, all because you are waiting for the right buyer, with the price you want.

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