McLEAN, Va., and STAMFORD, Conn. -
As RVI Group and J.D. Power Valuation Services each saw wholesale prices moved higher in March when compared to the year-ago readings, a forecast for how prices might behave in April is indicating that analysts might not have to switch many figures from their previous-year report.
According to the newest edition of Guidelines, analysts pegged that April wholesale prices are likely to soften by 0.5 percent in April, which would be almost exactly the same as the 0.6 percent year-over-year dip that J.D. Power Valuations Services recorded for the same month in 2017.
The report put the five-year average April decline at 1.2 percent.
Analysts added that their expectations for all of 2018 remain with a projected price decline coming in at 0.4 percent.
Looking back at what happened in March, J.D. Power Valuation Services pinpointed the wholesale price rise at 2.5 percent for used vehicles up to 8 years in age. The increase was more than analysts anticipated. And as a result, the J.D. Power Valuation Services’ Seasonally Adjusted Used Vehicle Price Index ticked up by 0.9 points in March to land at 115.9; a figure 2.5 points above the year-ago reading.
Over at RVI Group, analysts there also said wholesale prices rose in March, but not quite to the level seen by J.D. Power Valuation Services. RVI Group indicated that the RVI Used Vehicle Price Index (Real) increased from February to March by 0.1 percent. When compared to March of 2017, prices moved up by 1.7 percent.
Both firms took a deeper dive into how specific vehicle segments performed in March. And analysts from each team noticed an array of segments posting prices jumps.
As shared in Guidelines, J.D. Power Valuation Services noticed compact and subcompact car prices came in strongest and above the industry average with year-over-year rises at 4.3 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively. Not far off that pace, analysts had midsize-car prices rising by a “healthy” 3.5 percent and large-car prices climbing by 3 percent.
RVI Group’s latest information had full-size vans and minivans making the largest price jump in March at 4.3 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.
The car segments also appeared in RVI Group’s data as analysts noticed price increases for compacts (up 3.4 percent) midsize sedans (up 2.6 percent) and full-size sedans (2.2 percent).
Leading the way in terms of price softening in March, according to RVI Group, were luxury small sedans, which dropped by 3.9 percent year-over-year. Other notable price decreases in March as spotted by RVI Group included sports cars (down 3.2 percent), luxury coupes (down 2.6 percent), and luxury SUVs (down 2.1 percent).
And turning back to Guidelines, the report also mentioned the March price drop-off for luxury large utilities, which slipped by 3.1 percent year-over-year. Analysts added the change was “somewhat out of character since over the past several years prices for the group have been flat to down ever so slightly in March.”
Perhaps the trigger for the price drop, J.D. Power Valuation Services noticed the volume of luxury large utilities hitting the wholesale market jumped 24 percent in March, pushing the year-to-date rise to 3.9 percent, “which isn’t helping prices.”
A deeper look at tax refunds
The upward movement of those specific mainstream car segments intrigued the team at J.D. Power Valuation Services, so it explored the relationship involving those cars and federal income tax returns.
“Buyers in these segments have historically been more sensitive when it comes to ‘cash down’ payments, and federal tax returns have been a great source of down payments,” analysts said in the report.
J.D. Power Valuation Services went back and looked at data from the Internal Revenue Services and found that the total number of federal tax refunds issues through February dipped by 1.8 percent compared to the same point last year. Analysts added the disparity improved in March as the year-over-year refund deficit came in at 1.1 percent.
When consumers did land their refund, this year’s figure was 0.5 percent higher year-over-year at an average of $2,893, according to IRS information relayed through Guidelines.
Analysts asked, “So what does the occurrence mean? Ultimately, it meant there were more potential buyers in the marketplace armed with healthy down payments in March.”