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AUCTIONS: Take care to make light work

Date: 22 October 2008

Van prices stalled in May

Light vans enter the used market in large numbers, which is why it pays to get the spec right up front and the condition right at a resale time, writes Tony Rock

It seems used buyers have a healthy appetite for light vans. Both Manheim and BCA report seeing significant demand, with Manheim saying they "receive plenty of buyer interest, both online and in the auction halls" for car-derived models, and BCA describing the Ford Transit Connect as "hugely popular" and the Vauxhall Astravan Sportive as "highly desirable".

However, not only do both firms talk of great demand, they both report that those buyers also have plenty of choice, due to what Eddie Parker, head of LCVs at leasing company Masterlease, calls "the current oversupply issues".

"There are currently more vehicles in the market than buyers, which depresses values and puts potential purchasers in an ideal position to be more selective and to demand the best possible vehicle conditions," says Parker.

With choosy buyers, the onus is on the vendor to maximise their selling chances, and one area they should look at is the condition of their LCVs.

"The deciding factor for purchasing appears to be the condition of the vehicle, with potential buyers concerned about the way it was maintained, looked after and driven by its former owner/s," says Parker.

"Condition does not just refer to appearance, but also its comprehensive history. A full maintenance record and a complete set of keys is at least highly desired, and evidence is suggesting these requirements are actually becoming 'demands'."

Another area sellers should consider is how they specify their vehicles.

"Side-loading doors are proving a necessity in times of over-supply and twin doors remain a true rarity," says Alex Wright, sales director, commercial vehicles at Manheim.

BCA's Duncan Ward agrees. "For ease of access in urban conditions, one side-loading door is a must, and two is preferable."

Ward continues: "Vans with load-retaining bulkheads are favoured, as second-users are increasingly safety conscious, while ply-lining is also valued to stop damage. The very rare examples fitted with a tailgate - about 1% BCA estimates - will always make exceptional money. Aircon and in-van entertainment are also highly prized."

However, it's not always the latest technology that buyers want, as Wright explains: "Buyers tell us that a small number of car-derived vans fitted with the lower cc/power output engines are proving prone to costly repairs. As the popularity of these smaller engines grow front end, the pre-common-rail larger capacity engines (perceived by some as old technology) remain popular to the subsequent user - when clean and tidy and priced accordingly."

What's hot

According to BCA, despite the bigger volumes available, the Ford Transit Connect remains hugely popular and well-specced examples are desirable. 2005-registered SWB examples with a side-loading door at around 30,000 miles are averaging up to £3000.

"Metallic finishes are much sought after in this sector and can add substantially to the final selling value," says Ward. "Models without a side-loading door are valued around £200 to £300 less."

BCA is selling 2005 Berlingo 1.9D four-door Enterprise models for around £2400 at 30,000 miles and even higher-mileage examples (70,000) will sell for around £2200. Add a side-loading door and values will rise by between £100 and £150.

"Buyers also favour the 2.0 HDi engine, just because it delivers a bit more power and this will add another £100 or more," adds Ward.

BCA reports that the Vauxhall Combo remains popular, with 2005 five-door models averaging around £2750 at 40,000 miles. Without the side-loading door, however, values slip by around £300.

"The Renault Kangoo also looks great value for money in the current market," says Ward, with BCA selling 2005-registered 1.5 dCi 5-door vans for £2250 at 50,000 miles - with the four-door version realising about £100 less, on average.

The Vauxhall Astravan is another favourite: "The Sportive models in particular really tick every box in the used market and are highly desirable."

Ward concludes by reiterating Masterlease's Eddie Parker's view that presentation at auction is key.

"High-quality trade name deletion essential," he says. "If your vans have to be dressed in an unusual or easily identifiable decor, think about using vinyl logos over a standard colour, as they are easily removed prior to remarketing.

"An increasing number of volume corporate sellers are now preparing their vans to the highest standards, including a machine-operated polish and even cold metal repairs on any dings and dents. In a competitive marketplace anything to give your vehicles an edge is worth considering."



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