Qatar’s used car market has been “flooded” with options in recent weeks as several of the country’s largest employers downsize, forcing many departing expats to sell their vehicles during one of the busiest times of year for such sales, an industry expert has said.
Julian White, a sales executive at used vehicle showroom Oasis Cars, said he’s receiving 10 to 15 offers a day from residents looking to sell him their vehicles, roughly double the number of calls he was receiving at this time a year ago.
“There’s been a change in the market … (as) quite a lot of people are leaving (Qatar),” White told Doha News.
Expats who choose to leave Qatar for good often time their departures to coincide with the end of the school year. As they sell off their possessions, the number of used car listings typically increases in May and June.
But the market has seen even greater growth in recent weeks after employers in the energy sector downsized their staffs in the wake of last year’s collapse in oil prices.
This has made it increasingly difficult for some to sell their used cars. In addition to a new wealth of choice, White said there’s also a consumer confidence issue, as some residents are reluctant to purchase a new vehicle while feeling insecure about their jobs.
Having sold five vehicles on Saturday alone, White added that there are still car buyers in the market, but that many are taking longer to make a purchase as they have more options to choose from.
Despite Qatar becoming a buyer’s market for used cars, prices have so far failed to fall, White said.
He speculated that some car sellers may have taken out loans to buy their vehicles and need to fetch a certain price in order to settle their debts.
Others, he said, may not fully appreciate how much a vehicle can depreciate or have a sense for how many vehicles are currently being sold in the used car market.
However, he suggested that a drop is imminent.
“Prices are going to have to come down,” White said. “The market is flooded with used cars right now.”
One resident who does have a firm grasp of the current state of the market is British expat Nat High, who is preparing to leave Qatar and move to the UAE.
Roughly two weeks ago, he said he posted ads for his family’s two vehicles – a 2011 Kia Mohave 4×4 and a 2012 Volkswagen Golf – on three popular online classified sites.
To date, he said he has yet to receive “even the vaguest of inquiries” and is investigating the possibility of shipping the vehicles to the UAE instead of selling them.
“I would have honestly thought that with plenty of lead time there would have at least been a phone call … (But all) the (used vehicle) websites are flooded,” said High, who wrote about his preparations to leave Qatar on his blog, Bright lights, little city.
He told Doha News that he discussed his asking price with several friends who have either recently bought or sold vehicles in Qatar, and they said his listings were reasonable.
High added that when he paid for a listing on Qatar Sale, the photographer who took pictures of his vehicle told him that he has never been so busy with his job, due to the high number of residents selling their cars.
Qatar Sale declined to discuss the used vehicle market when contacted by Doha News.
However, the head of another popular online marketplace in Qatar said he’s not convinced that layoffs in the energy sector have led to a glut of used cars for sale.
Qatar Living managing director Bilal Randeree told Doha News that there are currently approximately 700 cars and 450 4x4s listed for sale on the site.
“That’s higher than last year, but not exceptionally so,” he said, noting that Qatar’s population and levels of internet access have been increasing.
At the same time, QL has been working to capture a larger share of the used car market and attracting more listings.
“The pool (of people selling their vehicles online) has been growing,” Randeree said.
What’s been your experience buying or selling a used car in Qatar? Thoughts?