Some of you may have seen the post I wrote during my car shopping hunt, but I’m happy to say that on February 25, 2017 I bought my ‘new’ [pre-owned] car and that the search for the right fit was over. I had finally found the 2014 Ford Focus Titanium I wanted and this time, I snatched it up quick!
One small dealership in Mississauga has my thanks because the salesman Steve was honest and very helpful. After expressing serious interest in an Elantra, he urged me to walk into a bank and see what kind of a rate I could get because he wouldn’t be able to get me anything less than 6%. He suggested a young person like me explore all the avenues before signing anything (which is rare with sales people who are often stereotyped for focusing on profit alone). Most of the dealerships I was considering buying from pushed me to buy and could offer anywhere from 4-7% financing rates, which is high when your ideal budget is $13,000 - $15,000 and you have less than half to put down. I was surprised at how easy it was to get a personal loan and get a decent rate at the bank. I literally walked in after work, was in a sales office within 5 minutes, and was signed up for a personal line of credit/loan within 30 minutes. A little too easy in my opinion, but hey, I’m not complaining.
I have no reservations about sharing financial tips and being able to save money where you can. I have impeccable credit but shy away from any kind of debt where possible. I knew I didn’t have enough cash down to buy the car out right, and I definitely didn’t want all of my money paying off interest rates for eternity. I had received a pre-approved TD personal line of credit offer in the mail a few weeks after starting my car search and had called on the next business day to sign up, only to find out it was already unavailable and I would need to re-apply. I expressed to TD that I was really disappointed and asked how it was possible that it was already unavailable. TD explained that due high customer demand, they had revoked it from several accounts (limited availability essentially). I asked them to note that I was interested and that if it became available again, to please contact me. I was extremely lucky that I made that call – because of that note on my file, I was able to better negotiate my rate and the TD rep was able to offer me an even lower rate of 2.99% vs. 8.49% (and I was assured a good chance of renewing at 2.99% the following year if requested). Anyone serious about getting a line of credit or loan [with a clean history and high credit score] should negotiate the interest rate to a lower rate than initially offered. I can confidently say that there was no resistance – the customer with perfect credit has the upper hand because you can literally go anywhere and get approved, so there must be some enticement to get you to sign up.
Two days before I found my new car, I shared the car shopping experience that I had begun mid-January, and shared my defeat in finding what I thought was the right car, only to have it bought from under me. That weekend, I saw an ad on AutoTrader.ca and called the dealership to find out about the car and if it had any claims or accidents on its history. The car was clean and within hours, I had taken a 45-minute test drive to ensure it operated as advertised (plus we did a thorough once over to check for any visible issues) and I signed the paperwork for purchase all in one afternoon. The experience was fairly smooth with only one or two small hiccups (adding a note on the bill of sale that the windshield scratches directly in the driver’s line of vision needed to be buffed out or the wind shield replaced was a big one). And there wasn’t any room for price negotiation as they had already dropped the price since the original posting went up (I traded in my old car for the difference of my offer, which was about $1000 less than asking price). All-in-all, I was happy with my purchase and feel I got what I paid for and then some.
I like that old saying, everything happens for a reason, and I honestly think it does. I still preferred my original Ford salesman’s demeanor, but I’m not buying the salesman, I’m buying the car. The Focus sedan I ended up with was a near match in price, offered better rear visibility, had a few more premium features and had nearly half as many kilometers compared to the Focus hatchback I almost bought (less than 25,000 on a 3-year-old car, which makes it practically a demo). Plus, I ended up with a better interest rate through a personal loan rather than financing though the dealership – an option I wouldn’t have explored unless prompted. Goes to show that if you wait it out and meet good people along the way, sometimes you get lucky.
I'm a 20-something woman working my way through life in Canada, traveling when I can afford it and seeking out my passions one day at a time.