Remunerator News

Apr 24 2014

Number Plates for a Novated Lease: Investment or Fad?

When people purchase a new car via a Novated Lease, many look to personalise their car. A popular way to personalise the car is via special number plate.

Many years ago the way this was done was through having your initials with numbers. This was often referred to as “Personalised Plates”.

However today, number plate styles are becoming as varied as the types of cars that they are attached to!

Often they are either promoted or considered as an Investment.

But are they an investment?

Well to answer that question we must place the plates into categories. For simplicity we have the following:

  1. Standard Issue Plates
    1. normal plates consisting of a series of characters and digits issued when you register a car and receive the next on the pile;
    2. broadly may have value if they are either of:
      i.    General significance such as “AAA-000” or “ABC-123”; or
      ii.    Broad personal significance such contains someone’s name such as “TOM-000” or “ANN-000”, or relates to a car such as “GTS-000” or “BMW-000”;
  2. Custom Plates
    1. plates where you have the opportunity to have as many characters as allowed to make up a name, etc;
    2. broadly may have value if they have some broad personal significance such as “FORD”, “HOLDEN”, or other arrangements that have some unique significance that has some broader desirability;
  3. Special Interest Plates
    1. plates that promote a club (eg: Rotary or Horse Racing) or district (eg: Tourist Region);
    2. broadly have minimal value due to their fine target marketing;
  4. Themed Plates
    1. plates that promote subjects such a model of car (eg: HSV or FPV) or football club;
    2. may have some value greater than Special Interest Plates but is highly depended on the configuration;
  5. Heritage Plates
    1. Across all states, except for Victoria, Heritage Number Plates are numbers “1” to “999-999”;
    2. In Victoria, Heritage Plates are numbers “1” to “285-000”.
    3. Furthermore, we understand not all plates have been issued to date in any state; and
    4. This category is the most actively traded and by far the highest potential for value when it comes to resale.

So the category for broadest investment potential is the Heritage Plates.

We have decided to focus on Victoria which seems to have a highly active market for buying and re-selling of number plates. This gives us greater data from which we can analyse.

To assist our assessment of investment potential, we analysed the sales of Heritage Plates in Victoria in the auction arena since 2005 through Shannon’s Auctions which appears to be the preferred outlet for VicRoads.

Firstly, we excluded certain sales that would have distorted the analysis:

  • “premium” numbers (eg: “123”, “888”) which had deemed value higher than its “issue position”; and
  • Numbers less than “199” as there insufficient sales to identify trends.

To simplify, we then categorised:

Below endeavours to graphically represent the sales of each category since 2005.

Assessment

  1. The lower the Heritage Plate is to “1” the deemed value was higher.
  2. The results for 4 digit and 5 digit shows that values dropped approximately 40% in 2011 but have stabilised since;
  3. Pre 2011 the market for all 3 digit number plates was extremely volatile in particular for numbers higher than “500”;
  4. All number plate values have been fairly steady since 2011; and
  5. Since 2011, the price for a “900” series plates seems to be about $35,000 and increases by about $2,500 per lower series.

 

So are they an investment?

Well like any investment, it depends on how well you buy and the timing of your exit.

Anyone who bought one of the 4 digit plate or lower in 2005 would probably have different thoughts about their investment potential to someone who bought one in 2007 / 2008!

In Victoria, anecdotal evidence tells us that in the early days, many people thought that all the Heritage Plates were on issue and any that appeared on the market were a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, hence the prices jumped dramatically.

However, VicRoads every 3 months seem to be release “new” Heritage Plates through Shannon’s Auctions which may be the reason why the market has been flat over recent years as the buyers become more informed and VicRoads are finely balancing supply.

 

 

Disclaimer:

The information supplied on this page is provided as an information guide only. It contains Remunerator (Aust) Pty Ltd ACN 074 423 966 interpretation of information freely available on the internet. It should not be relied on as a substitute for legal or other professional advice.