By Ray Birch
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga.—A new mobile app is giving consumers accurate trade-in values for their vehicles—and even cutting them a check in minutes if they want one.
Black Book has teamed with The Appraisal Lane to offer an app financial institutions can place on their websites, or car buying sites, that can help consumers complete the car deal and therefore close the loan. The service charges a fee to participating financial institutions.
“According to a recent survey conducted by Black Book, consumers believe a vehicle trade-in quote that’s far from expectations remains the second-most likely reason to kill a deal,” said Jared Kalfus, executive vice president, revenue for Black Book. “The trade-in process remains largely inefficient.”
Kalfus noted that today, typically buying a new car is easy with all of the data available online.
“But there still is the wildcard of the trade,” he said. “That’s still the wild, wild west.”
Kalfus said Black Book provides “precise” valuation for autos, and that data is used by The Appraisal Lane.
“We now provide very specific values for vehicles,” he told CUToday.info. “It’s VIN (vehicle identification number) specific value. So it’s not just the value of a Camry. It’s the value of my Camry sitting in my garage. Through a partnership with AutoCheck, we send VIN numbers to AutoCheck who then checks more than 1,000 pieces of VIN-specific data on a car: the number of accidents, number of owners, severity of accidents, did the air bag deploy, flood damage, was the car used for a fleet service … All of these different categories of vehicle history that affect a car’s value. We run that data through our proprietary Black Book model and adjust the value up or down.”
Jeff Risner, co-founder and CEO of The Appraisal Lane, said the app “takes the murkiness out of the water” when it comes to the trade in.
“The trade value is still very unpredictable,” said Risner. “You can figure out the price of the car and the financing terms, but the trade is where the wheels can come off the bus in a deal.”
Risner said with The Appraisal Lane app, consumers can start their research with Black Book’s trade-in value to obtain a baseline.
“When they are ready to transact they download the app and connect in real-time with The Appraisal Lane to get a guaranteed offer,” said Risner. “They then share a lot of information on their car. They walk around their car with their phone and take pictures with one of our trade desk people on the phone with them. Our trade desk is staffed with experts that vet information on cars all day. It’s a very connected process you go through right in your driveway.”
When finished, consumers hit “submit” on the app and 25 minutes later receive a guaranteed cash offer on their phone.
“The offer is redeemable at a participating dealer as money toward the purchase of a replacement vehicle, or as cash in hand,” said Risner. “The car owner can then go to any of our approved dealers in their area—we have a dropdown box to choose local dealers on the app—and the dealer scans the code on the app and instantly downloads all the pertinent information on the car, including the offer.”
Risner said the dealer cannot change the trade-in offer if after they inspect the car they find the information the owner shared with The Appraisal Lane is accurate.
‘Cutting a Check’
Risner noted The Appraisal Lane can often get consumers a good price for their trade because the company can shop a trade across the country.
“If the car does not fit the dealer’s stocking plan, then we simply cut the dealer a check for the car,” said Risner.
Risner said when a financial institution signs on with The Appraisal Lane, the company works with local auto dealers to enroll them if the company does not already have a number of local dealers participating.
“The trade is just another piece of the car shopping and car buying puzzle,” said Risner. “But it can be a big part. Adding this service to the credit union’s website can help keep the borrower with the credit union from the time they first begin looking for a car to when they close the deal.”
Risner added the cost for the program requires a monthly fee, which he would not disclose. “It is a relatively nominal cost and it’s based on the amount of activity our sites sees from an organization,” he said.