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What Exactly is a Car Broker?

What Exactly is a Car Broker?

Let's face it, you lead a busy life and that doesn't leave a ton of time to get all the things done that you might want. You have work; you have a family; you have obligations. And when it comes to buying a car, you don't always have the time to devote to the search for the perfect vehicle that you want. That's where a car broker comes in. A car broker is an auto industry professional who can use your specific guidelines to research and find the absolute perfect car to meet your needs.


So why would you want to put such an important decision in the hands of someone else? As with many things in life, a professional has the knowledge and experience to do the job of car shopping in a way that saves time, hassles and even money.

What Does a Car Broker Do?

First and foremost, a car broker is already in the industry. That means they can cut through a lot of red tape and save you the trouble of trying to negotiate the perfect deal or haggle over small details. If you're intimidated by the idea of talking to salespeople, a car broker is on the front lines on your behalf. You tell the broker what you want in terms of models, years, features, and price range, and they can search locally or even nationally to find what you want. The savings can be significant, from hundreds to even thousands of dollars.

With your wish list in hand, a car broker is able to cut to the chase quickly and efficiently. Because many car brokers have been car salespeople in the past and are familiar not just with the tactics and strategies sales professionals use but also margins and costs, they know the ins and outs of working a deal. Of course, the broker is going to charge a fee for their service, but depending on the car you need, this can still end up being a much better deal for you in the long run.

How Does it Work?

Car brokers will typically work for a flat fee, so you need not worry about surprise costs down the road or percentages of sales that can increase based on the value of the car you end up purchasing. The fee should be the same regardless of whether you're buying a simple, reliable family sedan or a high-end and extravagant sports car. You'll likely have to pay a retainer to start with, just to prove you're serious about their services, and then you need to fill in the details.

The car broker will be most efficient with more details from you which can be provided during a short meeting or possibly even over the phone. If you just want a black car, it opens up a lot of possibilities. But if you explain your budget, that you need a certain number of features or you want a car no more than five years old, that refines the search and allows the broker to focus on exactly what you want. Typically, this process will only take a few days. The caveat to that is that you may need more time if you have more specific demands. A 2017 Toyota Tercel will be easier to find than a 1964 fire-engine red Ford Mustang.

When the broker has found some options that meet your requirements, they'll inform you of what they've found and you can choose which car meets your needs. The broker can close the deal and your car-buying experience can go ahead relatively stress-free. They'll finish the purchase and literally drive the car to you to drop it off. All that you'll need to do is finalize some paperwork, and the deal is done.

Why Use a Car Broker?

Why Use a Car Broker?

The convenience of a car broker really can't be overstated. If you're too busy or just not comfortable with the idea of searching for your own vehicle, a car broker can be a welcome alternative. The fact they can also hunt down even the most obscure vehicle and cut you the best deal that otherwise you may not be able to secure for yourself is also a great advantage here.

Your broker can handle concerns about the safety and state of repair of a vehicle, so you need not worry about running afoul of a lemon if you're looking for a vintage or rare automobile as well.

It's worth comparing the hiring of a car broker with something like a real estate agent. Few people are comfortable with the idea of managing a house sale on their own, but a car sale is probably the second largest purchase you're likely to make after a home, so a similar arrangement offers similar benefits. They're there to help you get what you want.

Buying a car includes several fees, and one of the big advantages of a broker's involvement is that they can sidestep a lot of those. Dealership fees are often tacked on in a way a typical buyer may not even be aware of. A broker knows which fees are legit and which can be negotiated around to keep your costs low and your value high.

Yes, the internet makes it easier for you to shop for a car on your own and track them all across the country and even beyond if you want, but it's the art of negotiation and striking the best deal that the broker can really bring to the table.

How Do You Pick a Car Broker?

Any time you're trusting not just your money but your time and your safety to another person, you need to make sure you're being smart about it. You wouldn't pick the first doctor you saw in a pop-up ad online, or a real estate agent based on nothing but a sign on a bus stop, so you should approach a car broker the same way.

A legit car broker is going to be licensed by your state, and you can research that to make sure they're fully licensed and meet all state qualifications. This is your money, and you don't want to cut any corners to risk your investment. Likewise, make sure your broker isn't working with a particular dealership. That's a conflict of interest and could mean that their suggestions are not necessarily on the up and up. If a broker is getting paid by a manufacturer or a dealer, then they're not working in your best interests.

Ask any potential broker about their history in the auto industry. Do they have experience selling cars themselves, and if so how much? How do they contact and negotiate with dealerships to find the cars they're securing? How long have they been working as a broker and how much work do they typically do? It's also worth doing a little research on your own to make sure you're choosing a reliable broker. The internet should be able to provide you with reviews from past customers so you can get a general feeling for how well this broker does business and how happy their past clients have been. Check the broker's website to make sure it looks legit and do a quick search to make sure there's some history there.

What are the Costs of a Car Broker?

What are the Costs of a Car Broker?

As with most services you can enlist a car broker's fees can change based on their experience, their location, and what you need them to do. If you're looking for the rarest vehicle ever, it may take a little more work and the broker may charge you a little more. Likewise, a broker in a more affluent location like Beverly Hills might be inclined to have a higher fee than one located in Cleveland. That said, there are some standard rules of thumb. Some brokers will charge a percentage rather than a flat rate, and this can get very pricey. It's in your best interest to look for one who just charges a flat rate, but the choice is yours.

You can expect to pay a flat fee to a car broker that can typically range anywhere from $300 to $600. You'll find a used car may actually have a higher fee than a new car because more work goes into tracking down a used vehicle. Your mileage may vary though, and you can potentially get one a little cheaper or a little more expensive. Often their fee will just come out of the fees they're helping you eliminate from the cost of your vehicle, so you may end up buying a car for less than the sticker price when it's all said and done. Regardless of the fee, it should be well-established before you agree to do business what you're going to pay, so you need not worry about any surprises.

As with any business transaction, make sure you’re comfortable with the car broker and the service they're offering before you commit to anything.