In case you’re thinking of selling a car on Bring A Trailer


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Thread: In case you’re thinking of selling a car on Bring A Trailer

  1. #1
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    In case you’re thinking of selling a car on Bring A Trailer

    I recently decided to attempt to sell my car via BAT. My experience was disappointing.
    First off, they pick the reserve price, what?! That’s right, they pick the minimum amount YOU are willing to accept for your vehicle. Why you ask? Because even though they charge sellers anywhere from $99 to $350 to list your car, that’s not how they make money. They make money off of a buyer fee which is a percentage of the sell price, just like every auction house out there. And the reserve price is around trade in value of the car, ie: too low. And they have a weird clause where if the car doesn’t sell they get the right to purchase it at the reserve price. So it’s a win/win for them no matter what the outcome is, but for the seller its a big fat gamble.
    And they have zero skin in the game, they’re out absolutely zero no matter the outcome, but you the seller could be forced to sell your car for way less than what it’s worth. So here’s an example of why they want your car to have a low reserve price; lets say you want your reserve price to be $45K, they counter with $41K.
    To you that’s a $4,000 difference or loss you could potentially take, for them? Lets say their buyer fee is 4% of the sale price, if the car were to sell at the reserve price YOU want ($45k) their commission is $1800, now lets say you list it at their reserve price of $41K and that’s what it sells for, what’s their commission on that? $1640
    So, you’re short $4,000 dollars, and they only had to sacrifice $160 of potential earning. So now do you see why they want to control your reserve price. They know the likely hood of your car selling is much higher if the price is around wholesale, so what, they make a little less money, but you as the seller may end up selling your car for way less than you wanted and loosing thousands. They have zero skin in the game, essentially they’re getting to gamble with your currency and they’re rigging the game to earn no matter the outcome. I told them to pound sand. But I see a lot of cars auctioned on there every week so there must be a bunch of people that are way more risk tolerant than I am.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member ezmaass's Avatar
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    Re: In case you’re thinking of selling a car on Bring A Trailer

    Wow - agreed, that's a pretty terrible proposition for the seller. Likewise, one car is never like the next. On paper they may seem very similar, but one may justify a considerably higher (or lower) price based upon condition, service history, how it was used (or wasn't), etc. These are real factors that buyers consider, but I'll make a wild assumption that an automated system would not.

    From my perspective, the BAT model sounds awfully greedy. I have no problem with a market maker (intermediary) making a fair profit for helping to connect buyer and seller. All auction sites, as you mentioned, will do this - and I agree they deserve their slice for the job they're doing. But this just sounds like they're after VOLUME (sell at wholesale if you must) to make their share versus looking out for the asset owner/seller.

    I would do my best to never align myself with an intermediary whose motivations were different than my own. And to be honest, this is the same thing that's broken in the real estate market. If you're representing a seller, a 3% sales commission on a $500k house, for example, is $15,000. But heck, if I want to take that vacation this month, I'd rather the seller take $475k and get the deal done. He's out $25k, while I'm out $750... $14,250 will still get me a nice vacation! To make matters worse, the seller is paying (usually) that same commission then to the buyer's agent. At least real estate agents have skin in the game - they're spending time and effort (most of the time) to list and show your house. But an automated auction website? You're right - zero skin in the game.

    The fact that they also force you to potentially sell to THEM at the reserve price is crazy, too. That tells me the bar is set artificially low. Seems like the target seller for BAT is someone who is happy to unload the car at wholesale - similar to going to Car Max. For the "hope" that someone pays more than wholesale, you pay a $99 - $350 fee. Doesn't sound great at all.

    Maybe I'll go out and launch a competitor site.
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  4. #3
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    Re: In case you’re thinking of selling a car on Bring A Trailer

    Funny you mention realestate, that was the exact thought I had too.
    Agent will talk the seller down in price knowing their commission doesn’t take a big hit.

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  6. #4
    Member audiction's Avatar
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    Re: In case you’re thinking of selling a car on Bring A Trailer

    I always check BAT every single day and almost try to sell my car through them a few years ago but after I experienced what you just stated on your post I decided not to do it. I just tried selling it locally. it's really messed up and I believe you would only benefit from BAT if you're selling something that's uber rare and you know there will be a bidding frenzy.
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  7. #5
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    Re: In case you’re thinking of selling a car on Bring A Trailer

    I sold my 997 Turbo on BAT about 18 months ago. I was able to negotiate on reserve price that was at the low end of what I thought I could get selling it through traditional venues. It took a few back and forth emails before we came to an agreed reserve. Overall, I got a reasonable price for the car, with little hassle. The last two minutes of bidding are unnerving for the seller; but I do like that the clock resets after each bid in the last two minutes and the minimum increment is $250. It took an extra 12 minutes to sell my car.
    I think BAT is suited better for cars with higher production numbers or lightly modified well know cars. It might not be the best place to sell a rare or collector car?
    The big down side it all the jokers in the peanut gallery sniping at your car that they have no intention of bidding on, or can afford.

  8. #6
    Senior Member 2011r852's Avatar
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    Re: In case you’re thinking of selling a car on Bring A Trailer

    I love BAT.
    I have bought and sold with them and I think you are missing a critical part of the puzzle.
    Yes, the reserves they request are low as they strive for a 100% sell through rate. As stated, within reason, that reserve is negotiable based on their experience of what will get the car sold, after all, why list a car and edit/add to descriptions if not to see the car actually sold? Further, a poor sell through rate negatively impacts their site,business model and reputation. I have had to decline bringing them a listing because the reserve was too low for me to be comfortable with. I was temporarily insulted but then came to appreciate their stance. Its not for every car and not for every seller and that's a good thing. Clearly many cars (ie muscle cars) are not a "fit" for BAT. The cars that are a fit can do very well. Fees are paid by the buyer (5% and capped) and Buyers are registered and held accountable via a credit card. The communities feedback is brilliant. I'm a car guy who has owned in excess of 100 and constantly benefit from commentary and observations that I was unaware of. Just recently a dealer was called out (correctly) for VIN tag fraud that really took an expert to prove.
    Alternatives...pay to ship a car to Mecum or BJ, pay them a prep. fee, have it touched by a 1000 posers, settle on a low reserve...or have it shipped back. Their fees are higher for both the buyer and seller and potential to loose money is much greater.
    The one thing I do HATE about BAT is that I didn't come up with the idea.
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