Everything you need to know about buying and selling cars in the UAE
Few of us could manage living in the UAE without a car – almost the entire infrastructure of the country is built around its use. After finding somewhere to live, newcomers frequently turn to hiring or buying a car.
Five years ago, I went through the same thing, but chose to buy rather than hire, having worked out that I could afford something that was fun and, crucially, would still be mine and worth something once I had finished paying for it. I asked around to find the best resource for finding a nearly new car – time and again, the answer was the same: Dubizzle.
The local site has grown and changed over the years, even if at first glance it appears the same as it ever was: clean, simple to navigate and rammed full of property, jobs, furniture and cars, with everything from LaFerraris and Bugattis to Toyota Corollas and classic American cars.
Dubizzle’s dominance hasn’t stopped rivals from setting up shop in the UAE, however, and there’s now an array of options – the majority online – to buy or sell a car here.
It has become something of a one-stop shop during the past few years, with Dubizzle.com making it easy to scan through more than 35,000 ads for cars, bikes, boats and more. It charges sellers for listings, which sent shock waves through the industry when the fees were introduced in December 2014. But as Osman Bhurgri, Dubizzle’s marketing manager for motors, points out, the move was to weed out several problems, including dealers masking themselves as private sellers, multiple insertions from sellers and other potentially dodgy practices.
The site is now less cluttered and easier to navigate. The company says it experiences a 12 per cent annual increase in traffic via mobile devices, and the smartphone app is much improved. But the real advancements come in the form of available finance and, from this week, insurance. At the click of a button, you can now sort the entire buying process using one site.
One other advantage is that buyers can arrange full reports on a car’s insurance history, so any accidents come to light. It’s in conjunction with Car Report, which compiles comprehensive data from insurers, and it costs Dh99 per report. Dubizzle makes it easy to buy and sell on the go, too, with an easy-to-navigate app.
Like Dubizzle, Souq.com was set up in this region, and serves as a gateway for online shoppers to buy electronic hardware, clothes, fragrance and lots more. It doesn’t provide a classified service for cars, but a recent tie-up with Al Ghandi Auto Group is perhaps a step to rectifying that. According to the company, 62 per cent of car buyers have reported using the internet to search for information before deciding on what car to buy. So, if you want a new Chevrolet, Souq.com has negotiated some hefty discounts for its users, with potential savings of up to Dh43,000 compared to dealership prices.
The deals cover Chevrolet’s Impala, Camaro and Corvette models, but there’s a catch: there’s a booking fee of Dh1,999 to get access to the deals, although that could represent excellent value for money considering the potential discounts.
Specific to Dubai, CarSwitch.com claims to be “the first certified used-car concierge service in the Emirates”. The website has only recently gone live. It promises a pain-free experience for those buying or selling a used car. The site is clean, uncluttered and intuitive.
“CarSwitch offers buyers and sellers better prices through direct seller-to-buyer deals, complete transparency and peace of mind through a proprietary 200-point inspection and guaranteed warranty for every car,” the company said in a recent press release.
There are plenty of cars to choose from and the beauty of this service is that it should alleviate much of the worry for buyers who don’t know what they are looking at. With a 200-point inspection carried out on the cars for sale, along with warranties and full disclosure on any car’s condition, it will be interesting to see how the UAE market responds.
At the time of writing, 1,689 classified motoring ads were listed on EZHeights.com, which claims to be “the UAE’s first social market place”. The site works well and it doesn’t cost anything to advertise on it. The company claims it has seen a “whopping 35 per cent” increase in advertising in its car section during the past few months, but the site, which was established last year, has a way to go before it becomes the “go-to” resource.
The site includes cars in emirates other than Dubai, but don’t expect to be spoiled for choice – it’s still early days for EZHeights.
The clue is in the name: SellAnyCar.com, SimplyCarBuyers.com, CashYourCarUAE.com, SellYourCar24.com etc. Such websites are geared towards sellers rather than buyers. In effect, each of these companies is the buyer, and as you might expect, they won’t exactly pay over the odds – many who have tried their valuation services have complained that their cars have been undervalued.
These companies have branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, often within official buildings such as RTA test centres, and the process is relatively simple. You input your car’s details onto the website for an instant valuation. If you’re happy with the figure, you take your car to one of the company’s facilities, where a physical inspection will take place and a firm offer is made. If you accept that offer, you’re paid the money. The deregistration process is looked after by the buyer. It’s a service that’s convenient and quick – appealing if you’re in a hurry to sell.
What does the company do with the cars it buys? Many are sold through auctions; others are exported to developing countries, where there’s a high demand for inexpensive vehicles.
When Dubizzle began charging for classifieds in its Motors section, there was public outcry. Many sellers took to Facebook groups such as Buy It, Sell It, Swap It Dubai, Second Hand Dubai and Buy & Sell In UAE. These closed groups allow followers to sell almost anything, including cars, without any fees. It’s most effective to search by keywords on these sites rather than scrolling through the listings.
There’s no shortage of used-car dealerships in the UAE, and for many people, it’s the only way to browse potential purchases.
However, it can be intimidating to deal with salespeople whose eyes are on their commission rather than the buyer’s interests.
Dealers will often supply used cars with warranties, which is a definite plus-point. But do your homework, go through the fine print and avoid potentially huge repair bills by making sure they’re comprehensive.
If you have a car to offload and cash isn’t your top priority, trading in for a new (or nearly new) one at a dealer could be the best option. It’s a streamlined process and alleviates the hassle of selling privately, although you rarely get generous deals. Still, sales staff have targets to reach, so you never know until you try.
Almost all the companies here representing major brands operate used-car sales operations, sometimes trading as “approved” under a manufacturer’s name. They will likely take anything off your hands, no matter what the make and model, after which it will either be auctioned or added to the dealership forecourt.