Knowing the Numbers to Improve your Negotiating Skills

You have just 10 minutes before you leave for the dealership to buy your next new car. How can you instantly improve your negotiation skills in that short amount of time? Look up the Edmunds.com True Market Value (TMV)® price and stick to it throughout negotiations. Follow the steps below to help you get the deal you're looking for.

  1. Go to the TMV section of Edmunds.com.
  2. Select the car manufacturer.
  3. Choose the model you are looking for.
  4. Select the trim level.
  5. Check the boxes next to the options you want, enter your ZIP code and decide what color you want.
  6. Click the big red button labeled "TMV Pricing Report."
  7. Print out the page that shows invoice, MSRP and TMV figures.
  8. Shop for your car filled with confidence that you now know what price to pay.

What is so valuable about this information? Without it, you would be negotiating blind, guessing what the car salesperson might sell the car for and, ultimately, giving them control of the deal. Your only recourse would be to make a low offer, let them counter and play the game until you arrive at a deal.

But armed with TMV pricing you know what others have paid for this car. This is the "transaction price" not the suggested asking price. And even if you aren't skilled in the art of negotiation, just having TMV knowledge and sticking to your guns will give you control of the process.

TMV is an indicator of how desirable a car is, and is determined by the demand for a given model and the available supply in your local marketplace. If a popular car is in short supply, the price can shoot up to and even exceed the sticker price. If a car is readily available, you will pay closer to invoice.

The beauty of TMV is that you can see, ahead of time, what you'll pay. How you get the car salesperson to agree to TMV depends on how you prefer to negotiate. Here are a few suggested approaches to consider, depending on your personality.

a) Armchair Negotiator: From the comfort of your home or office simply use the Internet to solicit quotes from at least three different dealerships. Compare the prices you get to TMV - you may find the opening "Internet quotes" to be below TMV already.

b) Traditional: If you don't mind negotiating and you are willing to spend several hours in a dealership, don't disclose that you know the TMV price. Instead, just negotiate in a traditional fashion to get as good a deal as possible; knowing that TMV is the highest price you're willing to pay.

c) Cut to the Chase: If you simply want a fair deal and you want to cut negotiations to an absolute minimum, then show them your TMV printout right away and hold firm. If they balk, say, "I'll just go to another dealer if you won't sell me this car at this price.Edmunds.com readers have often written about the successes they've had using TMV. One reader described negotiations this way: "I went into the dealership with my folder containing the True Market Value® printout and paperwork and carried it with me throughout the entire process. When it came time for the dealer to make an offer, his price was out there and it didn't even include all of the options I wanted. After he finished, I countered his offer by pulling out my TMV printout and saying this is what I want, with these options and this is what I will pay. He seemed to freeze at first but then asked me to initial my offer. He took it to his manager and came back with an approval."

Another reader related: "I just wanted to say thanks for helping me get the fairest price possible on my new Honda Accord, and the best price possible for my trade-in. Initially, my dealer wanted to give me $1600 less for my trade-in than the Edmunds.com TMV® price. All I had to do to close the deal and get what I wanted was present the salesman with two printouts...a TMV® report for the Honda Accord, and one for my trade-in. The dealer had no room to argue and gave me what I asked for without even a fight. This made my car buying experience much more pleasurable, and saved me thousands!"

Finally, there is this story from an Edmunds.com reader. "I went to a dealer loaded with all your facts and figures, and the dealer did all the things you stated to watch out for. When I said their price was almost $6,000 more than your True Market Value® price, they said I was wrong and to prove it to me, the manager called me over to the computer. He looked up the car on your site with each option and when he saw your TMV price, his face went white and he told me you were way off in your price. Boy did I enjoy that! Thanks again. I went back to your site and found some dealers that would work with me with your price."

From these first-hand stories, you can see that knowing TMV has turned ordinary buyers into effective negotiators. Why? Because they were armed with accurate information based on real-world market conditions.

It's possible you could get a good deal on a car without knowing TMV, but why not give yourself every advantage on a purchase where you could save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars?

Good luck!