If you live in Santa Monica and are looking to buy a used car, you might not need to travel far to find the best deal.
That’s according to the results of a new study by online car sales aggregator Autolist, which concluded that a used vehicle is more than $700 cheaper in Santa Monica than it would cost in the average California city and more than $1,000 cheaper than in an average city across the country.
The analysis puts Santa Monica at No. 7 on a list of the most affordable used car destinations in California. The beachside city trails only Redondo Beach, Aliso Viejo, Daly City, San Bruno, Hawthorne and South San Francisco.
On a list of the cities in the nation with the best deals on used vehicles, Santa Monica came in at No. 140.
“Santa Monica’s vehicles are likely cheaper because of dealer density,” said Alex Klein, vice president of data science for Autolist. “In the used car market, more competition means lower prices, and the high volume of dealers bodes well for consumers in the Santa Monica area.”
Los Angeles was determined to be the fifth-best county for pre-owned vehicle deals in the state, ranking behind San Francisco, Marin, Orange and San Mateo counties.
Autolist’s study relied on nearly three years of data starting in late 2012 and is based on examinations of price fluctuations for more than 56 million unique vehicles.
According to Klein, other pricing authorities would likely include Santa Monica in a broader regional category without exploring variances within a given region.
“It is shocking because studies like this that look at price differences on the micro level have never before been conducted in the used car industry,” he said. “Our study has demonstrated that there are more granular differences than previously acknowledged. By looking at scores of data over an extended time period, we have been able to show that there are actually differences on the micro level that could result in meaningful savings for buyers.”
California leads the nation in licensed drivers (24.2 million), registered vehicles (close to 13 million) and miles traveled (roughly 326 billion), according to 2012 data compiled by the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
There were about 36.8 million used vehicle sales across the country in 2010, according to the bureau. The average price of a used car that year was $8,786.
“Residents in Santa Monica may not want to migrate to buy a car, as is the case for individuals living in more rural areas with fewer dealers,” Klein said. “However, residents should expect other people from within the state to begin to flock to Santa Monica used car lots as data such as ours begins to become common knowledge.”
Prospective buyers should gather as much data as possible before making a decision, Klein said.
“The power of big data is that it can illuminate trends that are not apparent to the naked eye, or in this case, to someone browsing the local used car lots in their town,” he said. “People can save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars simply by collecting ample data on the car they are looking to purchase.”