Auto Broker walks the walk, talks the talk for you

For people who find car shopping unnerving, there is an alternative: you can send a professional buyer into the showroom to wrangle a deal on your behalf while you relax at home. Auto buying by proxy offers savings in time, shoe leather, anxiety and, possibly, money. Independent brokers will find you the best deal on the vehicle you want in return for a fee. Like real estate agents, they shop the market with your needs in mind and are not tied to a maker. A broker is the intermediary between the auto dealer and the consumer. A good one will complete the paperwork, deliver the vehicle to the buyer’s home or office and explain its features. Such services mushroomed in the affluent ’80s. But Mohamed Bouchama, executive director of Car Help Canada (http://www.carhelpcanada.com), a consumer advocacy group, suggests that the need for a broker has diminished in recent years. “Competition is fierce in the car business now,” he notes. “Dealers are discounting $1,000 to $1,500 right off the top.” He believes that most consumers can negotiate a car deal just as well on their own and warns that the unregulated broker industry has attracted some unscrupulous operators. Some collect a fee, then disappear. Others double-dip: collecting a fee from both the client and the dealer. “I’ve always said that anyone who doesn’t have anything better to do gets involved in the car business,” says Bouchama. Automotive adviser and broker Mark Derry stresses that his job involves a lot more than negotiating a low price. “I learned really quickly that people hate car salesmen,” says the Mississauga native who now lives in Bloor West Village. He used to sell cars at a Mazda dealership in Rexdale, but today runs CarSense, an auto broker service (http://www.carsense.to). During his five years as a sales rep, Derry, 33, observed all kinds of consumers. While some researched their decision with care, many others seemed to buy on a whim. “I met a lot of people who were lost. People often spend more time shopping for a pair of pants than they do for a $20,000 or $40,000 vehicle.” Because automotive brokers eat, drink and breathe cars, he contends that they’re better equipped to find the vehicle that fits the client’s needs. It’s not that a consumer couldn’t replicate the research; it’s just that few people can devote as much time to the task and...
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