Think Midstate house prices are surging? Just try buying a used truck

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(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The “sticker shock” of buying a house right now in Midstate Pa. (up 9 percent compared to a year earlier, according to a Zillow estimate) is nothing compared to what has happened to literal sticker prices of used trucks.

They’re up fully 25 percent in Midstate Pa. for May 2021 compared to May 2020, according to an exclusive analysis for abc27 News by Carfax. The average used truck in the Midstate now costs $35,630, according to Carfax, up from $28,600 a year earlier. That compares to a 6 percent average increase for all used vehicles.

On the other hand, whereas Midstate homes have generally increased in price by more than the national average, those surging used vehicle prices are — believe it or not — less than the average national surge. Here’s how they compare:

Used vehicleMidstate Pa. May 2020Midstate Pa. May 2021Midstate Pa. changeU.S. May 2020U.S. May 2021Change
All$19,750 $20,880 6%$18,300 $22,790 25%
Just trucks$28,600 $35,630 25%$26,390 $38,000 44%
Source: Carfax analysis for abc27 News

And trade-in values? Maybe car dealers aren’t being altruistic when they claim in current advertisements that they’ll pay you a lot for your car (after all, their job is to do what’s best for themselves, not for you).

But it turns out they are telling the truth about what they’re paying: Trade-in prices for all vehicles have risen by about 20 percent nationally, from $17,750 in May 2020 to $20,880, according to Carfax, whose spokesperson says the increase was driven particularly by high demand for late-model vehicles, who said all of this is unprecedented.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said Emilie Voss, director of public relations for Carfax, which provides vehicle history reports. “There is a severe lack of used car inventory. Dealers are having major challenges stocking their lots. They can barely get a vehicle onto the lot before it is sold.”

She said consumers are paying sticker prices and sometimes more.

“So the going in and haggling, like we’re used to with used car shopping? That is not happening right now,” she said.

She said just as price trends are reminiscent of the housing market, so too is the best advice for consumers.

“We know the situation can be very competitive, and people can feel pressured, and maybe they’re willing to make concessions and move quickly on things,” she said. “If you find that perfect car you want, a lot of people might skip some steps. But you still need to do your homework.”

She said that includes researching the vehicle’s history and having an independent, trained mechanic inspect it.

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