After much research, my girlfriend found a fully-loaded 2004 Honda Civic EX manual transmission with 11,500 miles on it from a semi-local Acura dealer (45 minutes away) for a mere $13,780 ($14,448 after VA taxes, title, registration, and dealer fee of $95). According to Kelley Blue Book, a 2004 Honda Civic rated as good condition (I would’ve rated it as Excellent) with the same features was listed at $17,150 retail and $14,150 private party (pre-taxes and associated fees). According to the dealer, the Civic was supposed to be listed at $17,800 but was erroneously listed on their website and on Cars.com at only $13,780. While I’m skeptical of that sort of error (by skeptical I mean I don’t believe them), the poor salesman (who wasn’t particularly knowledgeable) did show us how it was listed on the price sheet at $17,800 and let it slip that they bought it for $12,500. Was it a good deal?
While Kelley Blue Book isn’t the final arbiter of good deals, my girlfriend’s research did show that at that price you should only be able to get a 2002 Honda Civic EX with around 30,000 miles, not the 2004 she managed to snare. On CarMax (which I stated earlier as cheaper than a dealer, but not as cheap as Ebay  or a private seller), has a 2004 Civic VP auto (value package, the most barebones model) with 8,000 miles at $14,599! A 2003 Civic EX manual with 41,000 miles had a list price of $13,998. So bare minimum we did better than a CarMax.
My girlfriend was skeptical of buying a car from a private seller without an inspection, plus a purchase on Ebay  would take much longer to get here plus around $600 to ship it from almost anywhere outside driving distance.
We tried to bargain with the salesmen (though we did show up on the first of the month, not our intention) and get them to drop the price by $1,000 without success. Then, when he came to us with the $14,448 figure – we tried to get him to knock off the $448 because we wanted to stay in our budget. Still nothing… he kept mentioning how it was a great deal (I still believe it is). We even told them we’d finance it (where they’re supposed to make a ton of money) but they still wouldn’t budge. Ultimately, we decided the car was still worth getting and pulled the trigger. That’s when, at our own cause, some trouble showed up.
My girlfriend is still under her parent’s auto insurance policy and this wasn’t a problem on her recently deceased Celica because both she and her mother were on the title. Since neither of her parents were here and couldn’t cosign the loan or sign the title, she couldn’t just assume the old policy on this car. She would have to get a new policy on her own or get her parents there to sign. Since it was near closing, her parents wouldn’t get there in time so this will have to wait until tomorrow morning. I anticipate it being pretty smooth sailing from there.
While it technically isn’t Certified Preowned (so no million point checklist), it passed Maryland inspection (semi-bogus) and it still has 2 years, 25,000-mile original factory warranty on it so it should be a safe purchase. The Maryland inspection was stamped May 19th so the car probably hasn’t been on the market for too long (at least five days) and we didn’t anticipate it to last. Do you think my girlfriend got a good deal? What could we have done better?