You probably remember that between October 2003 and April 2003, I ran monthly value check of my Camry at Edmunds.com. The purpose of such exercise is to validate the reasonableness of the the value number I track in my personal finance software. As you can recall from the latest April study, my bookkeeping is very conservative.
Now after five months and another car, it's time to rerun this exercise again and below are the results:
2000 Toyota Camry LE
According to Edmunds.com, at 46,300 miles (6,300 miles in the last five months), this Camry is worth $10,753 for trade-in, $12,344 for private party or $14,074 for dealer retail.
Now that's the surprising part: if you compare the results with that from my April numbers, all three numbers are actually going up by up to $70. I hardly know what happened, but this is weird.
So I went ahead and took a second look by using the numbers from NADAGuides. NADAGuide thinks the trade-in value is closer to $9,925 and the average retail should be $11,975. (Note the gap between the two car reports is consistent with what I observed back in October 2003.)
The third useful source is local classified ads (for me, it is Seattle Times). 15 listings were available at the time of my search, ranging from $9,400 for a Camry at 90,000 miles (private party) to $15,995 for another at 33,000 miles (dealership).
No matter how I cut it, it is obvious that the book value of this Camry at my accounting book, currently at $8,350, is pretty low. Good for conservative accounting, and one day I can happily report a surprise net worth gain when I sell this baby.
2002 Kia Optima LE V6
For this Kia, Edmunds thinks the value at 29,500 miles is $6,549 for trade-in, $7,503 for private party and $9,163 for dealer retail. Compared to what I wrote down during my purchase around three months ago, each of the three numbers dropped around $250. Not that bad compared to the $125/month depreciation I took.
Now, NADAGuides thinks it is worth a bit higher. It says the trade-in value should be around $7,825 and average retail should be $9,600.
Having a book value of $7.447, it's not a clean case that my number is conservative; but it is definitely not aggresive either.
Overall I am pretty confident about the way I keep track of my car value; I will redo this validation process around twice a year as a best practice.