HOW TO BUY YOUR NEXT CAR: Auto Buyer Agent or Car Broker?


12/28/08 LAS VEGAS, NV 

2009 Toyota Venza

2009 Toyota Venza

CAR SHOPPING SUCKS right? Wrong. For those individuals smart enough to find an Auto – Car buyers’ agent or Auto broker, the ability to car shop from home or office is the ultimate master plan. 

You use a real estate agent when you buy a house, a dentist for your teeth and doctor when you’re sick, why wouldn’t you seek out a professional EXPERT when considering the formidable task of shelling out THOUSANDS of dollars to buy a car?   Busy executives and professionals have used brokers for years.  Now you can appreciate the ease of car shopping, if you pick the right expert for your next car purchase. 

There is a difference between an auto-car buyer’s agent and an auto broker…

 The Auto broker often has a used car license, allowing him/her to sell the trade-ins or purchase cars at auto auctions for resale at their lot.  Brokers typically have an escrow account where they deposit the clients funds until the car arrives.  There are brokers that only handle NEW high line or luxury cars over a certain dollar amount. You must have your credit line in order and know how you are paying for the vehicle, as many brokers do not provide direct to lender financing.  They may have access to provide factory incentives and financing/lease programs through a servicing dealership, but you should ask these questions up front. Most brokers want you to have the car picked out, know how you will pay for it and be ready to move forward once the vehicle is located or ordered with a hefty deposit. (no backing out.) Brokers are paid a commission, percentage or mark-up on the car you are buying from them.  They are not required to disclose the amount. In most states a broker must have a dealer license to operate.

Auto-Car Buyer’s agents act on behalf of the client. They often work from home or office suites, usually visiting the client at their home or office. Auto buyer’s agents charge a flat fee for their consultant type service. Agents do not mark-up the price or purchase cars for resale, the flat fee of typically $300-$500.00 is paid by the client upfront.  A contract protects the buyer and agent, should one or the other terminate the process. Most Agents will not refund fees once the shopping is initiated or if the client decides not to buy, however, some exceptions are usually outlined in the agreement.  Agents will sell both new or used vehicles in a wide range of prices.  Given the needs of the client, the agent will help locate, negotiate and deliver the new or used vehicle.  All contracts, monies and financial information regarding the customer are strictly confidential and pass directly to the selling dealership, including warranties and aftermarket service.   Buyer’s agents will arrange test drives, coordinate discussions and car comparison’s if you aren’t sure what car you want or can afford, and will direct you in a limited manner to get the right car. You need to be ready to make a decision quickly if the car is available, as most agents will limit the number of car’s presented for consideration.  Financing and trade information should be addressed upfront, to eliminate misunderstandings or lost opportunities, especially with used cars.

Auto-Car Buyers agents are licensed as business owners, and in some states are also required to have a used car dealer license. 

Things to know before you contact a Buyer’s Agent or Broker:

1. Have the specific car(s) or price range and needs before making contact.

2. Know your credit score or approved loan amount before deciding which car to buy. If you don’t know your score, ask the agent/broker to pull your credit before you start shopping out of your wallet.

3.  Get references on the broker or agent you are working with. Check the Better Business Bureau or for complaints.

4.  Ask to see their contract and have a consultation to be sure you and he/she are on the same page.

5.  Decide what features are optional and what are MUST-HAVES and provide this information upfront.  I use a questionaire to be sure I haven’t missed any crucial bits of info., like: must hold large dogs, elderly parents or four golf bags.

6.  Ask about registration. Does the broker/agent handle it or will you be going to DMV or paying a service to get your license plates.

7.  If your trade a vehicle, find out who is making the pay-off, the selling dealer, broker or you?

8.  Only take delivery in daylight and inspect the car thoroughly BEFORE signing paperwork. Note any details that must be corrected on ALL copies of your contract.

9.  If the selling dealership must approve changes or modifications, get them to sign-off before taking delivery. Promises don’t count unless they are in writing, signed and dated.

10. The best thank you is a referral. If you are pleased with the service of your broker or Auto-car buyer’s agent, send them a thank you letter with permission to reprint, or post. 

As I always say, your referral is my greatest compliment. SO next time you are looking for a new or used car, truck, van or suv, don’t schlep to the dealership or stick your name all over the internet car buying websites, call an auto broker or auto-car buyer’s agent.




Sarah Lee is, a 20yr. veteran of the car business and consumer advocate. is a network of auto-car buying agents anxious to dispel the fears of consumers that all car sales people are nasty. The MyCarlady approach is as an auto-car buying agent acting as your personal car conceirge. You can reach her at to request her free guide and worksheet tools for selecting the right car for you!

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