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Farming is all about investing in the right areas of your operation and working hard to make sure those investments pay off. Many times, these investments are in farm equipment and machinery.

However, you don’t always have to purchase the latest and greatest piece of equipment to get the job done right. Still, if you are going to buy, then you should always know what information to look for, which questions to ask and have a general knowledge of the process for buying used equipment.

Start your search here with these seven tips for buying used farm equipment and machinery.

1. Decide whether to buy, lease or rent the equipment

Don’t get stuck forever with equipment that you might only need for a short amount of time. Before you jump into a purchase decision, ask yourself whether the wiser choice would be to lease or rent the equipment instead.

For what it’s worth, most farmers understandably prefer to purchase equipment. This gives them ownership of the machinery and can be a better, more cost-effective route in the long-term. Buying also generates equity for the owner.

However, if you find yourself strapped for cash or are planning on needing that cash for another important purchase, then leasing can be a good choice. Leasing is also wisest when you only need the equipment for a short time or want to keep debt to a minimum.

One last thing on leasing: If you do decide to lease, then make sure to fully understand the lease agreement and discuss any limitations that may be put on the equipment’s use as part of that agreement.

2. Speak to the seller.

When possible, try to speak to the seller of the used equipment to get a better idea of exactly what condition the equipment is in.

The seller is the best source for a lot of the information you need to seek, including equipment history and maintenance records. Sometimes, a seller’s representative may have this information on hand, so if that’s who you are working or are in contact with, then it does not hurt to ask.

3. Ask to see the equipment.

Ideally, you should also be able to look over the equipment for yourself. It’s important to look for any type of fluid leak, check the air filter condition and give the engine a listen.

It may not be a bad idea to have a more trained eye, such as a mechanic, also look over the equipment whenever possible to make sure it is in good condition.

Why is it so important to see the equipment for yourself? Because getting a good idea of the condition is the best way to determine what the equipment is actually worth and if you are getting a fair or good deal.

Laying eyes on the equipment will also give you an opportunity to see if that specific machine comes with any extra bells and whistles that you don’t need and may only be inflating the price.

4. Features are important

On a related note, some of those bells and whistles may not be extra at all for your situation. They may be necessary.

So, whenever you find yourself on the market for used farm equipment, be sure to take full stock of what features you need, which features you want and which features you could take or leave.

When making that list of desirable features, don’t ignore what certain specs you may not need but could increase the value of the equipment should you decide to try and sell it yourself down the road.

5. Know what the equipment is really worth

As with any major purchase, you need to enter with an idea of what the equipment is actually worth. Now, this could be different based on how much you need the equipment for your operation and how much wiggle room you have financially speaking.

For example, if the equipment has what you need and crosses every item off your wish list, then it may be worth more to you. On the other hand, if it’s missing a few of those items, then its worth is going to decrease. This doesn’t mean it’s not priced fairly, it just means it may not be the right piece of equipment for you and that it’s time to move on in your search.

One way to make sure it is a fair deal, though, is to compare the asking price to what similar machinery has been selling for. Research the market value of the equipment from the last few months to get a better idea of price point. Then, assess that market value against the current condition of the machinery you are looking at buying.

6. Don’t ignore other brands.

Loyalty to a brand name is nice, but it can sometimes lead to a buyer spending too much simply to maintain appearances. So, don’t go through the purchase process without first putting in some research on other competitive brands.

Before switching up on brands, though, it’s critical to know whether there is dealer support for that brand in the area. More times than not, that aspect plays a heavy role in which brands a buyer should go with. You don’t want to be stuck having to travel many miles in search of required parts.

7. Get the timing right.

Getting the best price possible on used farm equipment can in some cases come down to knowing when the time is right to buy.

You may often see higher prices in the first and fourth quarters of the year and lower prices beginning in the second quarter. So, it’s not a bad idea to start looking now and keep an eye out for lowered prices.

Are you in the market for farm equipment?

Sam Harper is an independent sales representative with Big Iron Auctions who is ready to help you find the equipment you need for your farming operation to be successful.

Sam is currently listing equipment in Clay County, Iowa, and in the surrounding areas. Call 712-339-5002 to learn more about buying and selling farm equipment and machinery today.

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