Finally ready to buy a car? Why it might not be so simple

(CBS News) Want to buy a car and can't because it's not in stock? The situation is an increasingly common headache for buyers as auto sales soar.

Vehicle sales are the best they've been in seven years. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors all posted double-digit gains in August.

So why are so many people buying -- and now? It's not an arbitrary urge. As CBS News contributor and analyst Mellody Hobson explained on "CBS This Morning," people who postponed the big purchase of a car through the Great Recession have finally decided to buy. Hobson pointed out at the height of the Recession in 2009, car sales dipped from the usual 16 million in any given year to about 10 million.

"(Now) the average car is 11.4 years old, so people need a car now," Hobson said. "And they've gone out as the economy has improved and interest rates are low and they're all going out at the same time, hence the shortage."

Car buyers can expect higher prices from dealers and haggling, Hobson said, is probably not something buyers can do. "You're seeing prices really firm up," Hobson said. "So a Ford Fusion, for example, sells for about $26,000 right now. That's 13 percent more than this same time last year during a time when car prices overall are down about 1 percent."

While the shortages are bothersome for auto buyers, the overall economy is getting a boost, according to Hobson. "First of all, because of the demand, we're going to see a lot of jobs added," she said. "The expectation is about 35,000 jobs will be added in the auto industry this year. It's a huge industry representing about two million jobs in this country. So this isn't just good for the auto companies. It's not just good for their shareholders. It's good for all of us."

  • Amanda Cochran

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