Used car prices highest in 16 years, but might not stay that way

If you're looking to purchase a used car or truck, you may have noticed that the prices have been a bit higher than you may have expected. Maybe the salesman in the used car lot isn't willing to dicker as much as you may have expected. According to USA Today, the reason for this phenomenon is that pre-owned vehicle prices are at a 16-year high.

The national paper claims that the average transaction price for a used vehicle is $11,660; up 30 percent since 2008. If that total still seems palatable, consider that four-year-old Honda Accord sedans are selling for $16,175, or about $373 per month with the typical four-year loan and five percent interest. While it's not the same as buying, USA Today notes that a brand-new Accord can lease for about $250 plus taxes, title and plates.

And while we're on the subject of leasing, the U.S. recession and the sharp decrease in leasing has helped cut down on the used vehicles available, further depleting stock while demand remains strong. The price hikes are also being felt at the auction houses, where prices have soared to levels not seen in over a decade. Owners are keeping their vehicles longer as well, as the typical vehicle is now 10.6 year old, up from 9.8 years in 2007.

But while the used vehicle market is strong, many feel that the trend can't last forever. Car buyers are leasing more now. 21 percent of all vehicles moved off of new car lots are being leased – up from 11 percent in 2009. That means more vehicles will become available once those leases run their course. Credit has loosened a bit as well, so potential new car buyers with less-than-perfect credit are now more likely to find themselves in a new vehicle.

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