Under the hammer

Werner Swart

Werner Swart

There is a marked increase in the number of cars going under the hammer, as car owners battle to make ends meet due to rising interest rates and harsh economic conditions.

Some auction houses now hold up to seven auctions a week.

In April this year, the country's largest vehicle finance house, Wesbank, announced that car repossessions doubled to more than 1000 a month, a staggering 67percent more compared to the same period last year.

To further drive home the point that more and more car owners are battling to keep up, Absa said yesterday the rate of repossessions had increased to 27percent, with an average of 1400 vehicles a month being repossessed.

Aucor's managing director, Shannon Winterstein, said there had been a "massive increase" in the number of cars going to auction. "We have shifted our auction schedule from approximately five to six monthly auctions to about 10," he said.

He said the type of vehicles varied and, while the majority of the vehicles were in good running condition, including luxury models like Aston Martins, they also got older vehicles.

"There is clearly a slump in the car market at present and for us, while the cars are selling, the prices are certainly depressed compared to the previous few years," said Winterstein.

Darryl Jacobson, managing director of auctioneering house Burchmore's, said they had also noticed an increase of roughly 10percent of vehicles being auctioned off.

Jacobson said the firm held seven auctions a week nationwide, with about 100 cars being auctioned per event.

He said bargain-hunters could still pick up cars for about 20percent cheaper than they would at dealerships, because they saved on the dealer margins.

Marcel de Klerk, managing executive of Absa Vehicle and Asset Finance, commenting on the high rate of repossessions, said lower income households had been impacted the most, but the bank was beginning to see more middle-income households feeling the pinch.