Are Personalised Car Number Plate Auctions Really A Bargain?

One of the most popular ways to buy car number plates is at an auction. Each year the DVLA hold a number of auctions, which sees a number of newly registered plates up for sale at seemingly bargain prices.

So can you go along to one of these auctions and pick up a bargain?

Well, you can, but the chances are that you are likely going to have to fork out more than you would like to in order to land the personalised number plate that you need.

This is best highlighted by looking at some real life examples of how prices at personalised number plate auctions can quickly increase.

In November 2008, a retired businessman from Surrey, Robert Harverson, attended one such auction in Yorkshire, expecting to pay around £100,000 and £150,000 for the cherished number plate 1 RH.

However, the bidding soon surpassed his £100,000 level and then the £150,000 and in the end, Mr Harverson paid £247,000 in order to land the plate.

He later said “I don’t have any regrets in life but I wouldn’t buy it again. In the last five to six years my mindset has changed. I would sell if the price was right.”

Of course, this is an example of a highly personalised and cherished number plate bringing more than its expected value. Does the same happen for plates costing considerably less at auction?

Well yes it can do.  In 2013, at an auction in Oxford, the number plate HO11 DEN was up for sale with an estimate sale price of £3,000. This attracted the interest of Steve Holden from Yarm, in north-east England.  Mr Holden drove to Oxford intending to buy the plate, with a mental limit of spending £3,000 to obtain it.

However, once again the price was greatly exceeded, with Mr Holden eventually paying £7,400 in order to purchase the number plate.

The fact of the matter is, at an auction, you can never be sure what the other people in the room are intending to buy or whether they will find the particular plate that you want attractive to them and therefore worth making a bid on.

If this happens then even the cheapest plates sold at auction can command prices well in excess of their expected sale value.

This is further exacerbated by the fact that nowadays, private plates are not solely seen as something you can use to personalise your vehicle. Many people are investing in plates as a way of future-proofing their savings as the prices of these plates have generally increased over the years.

Of course, it is also fair to say that if you go to an auction and nobody makes a bid on the personalised plate that you want then you may be able to pick up a bargain, however given the past evidence, that is becoming increasingly unlikely.

So what other alternatives are available if you want to buy a personal plate at a great price?

Well, first off you can perform your own searches and look for plates that are directly for sale for a state price through websites. However there are several problems with this too. Not only are you going to pay a fair price for the plate, but you’ll also play a hefty premium to the company that sold it to you too.

Then there is the time involved in searching through thousands of personalised numbers to find the one that you want, at a budget you can afford. This can often take a great deal of time and effort to do.

There is, however a quicker, easier and potentially much cheaper alternative and that is to use an industry expert, such as to do the work for you.

This service sees a prospective customer give the private plates expert as much detail as they can about the prospective owner of the plate, name, initials, interests, business/job, hobbies and a stated budget.

The Plate Guy then goes away, searches through the vast range of personalised plates available and presents you with a list of ones that may be suited to the intended recipient. If none fit the bill, he’ll go away and come back again with a new list until you do find one that is acceptable.

Best of all, with no auction and using an expert in the industry, you can receive these plates without battling other purchasers or paying a hefty premium on top.

So personalised number plate auctions can offer up the occasional bargain, but it seems to be more likely that you’ll end up paying more for a plate than you would like to and given the other options available today, that is something you no longer need to do to get the personalised number plate you want.

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