County ranks 76 in used-car affordability

Published 6:20 pm Monday, September 26, 2016

When it comes to used-car affordability, Beaufort County ranks 76 out of the state’s 100 counties, according to a study by

Drawing from 72 million vehicles and 4.5 billion data points, the study found that Beaufort County’s used cars average about $1,100 more than the state average. The top three counties for affordability were Pender, Edgecombe and Iredell counties. Swain County was labeled as the least affordable.

Despite the seemingly subpar results, the study did not appear to favor larger versus smaller counties, or those with more resources versus Tier 1 areas.

Nick Fritz, owner of MARSH Motors in Washington, said most dealers assess the value of a used car based on criteria from the National Automobile Dealers Association, and in his case, he tries to price the cars lower than the NADA suggestion.

Fritz said the lower ranking surprised him, and it might have to do with Beaufort County residents’ income.

The study also reported a large discrepancy between prices at all levels, from county to county and city to city.

“Results showed that while dealer density predictably contributed significantly to price differentials, other factors did so as well, such as manufacturer community presence and geography demands,” a press release stated. “After doing some in-depth digging on North Carolina, we found that there was a high degree of variation in used vehicle prices across the state, which greatly affects the buying market in Beaufort County.”

“My experience is that I don’t see a huge fluctuation from one town to the next,” Fritz said. “I generally am dealing with cars under $10,000.”

The study also listed some of the county’s most affordable options: Chrysler 200, Toyota 4Runner, Ford Mustang, Jeep Wrangler and Chevrolet Impala.

Kyle Alligood, owner of West Park Motor Co., declined to comment for this article, and Steve Lee, owner of Lee Chevrolet, was not available for comment.