NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – If you are in the market for a car, then you know it’s tough out there.

The pandemic led to factory shutdowns which led to the current semiconductor chip shortage for the new cars.

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Dealer lots are empty, and some are offering good money for trade-ins.

For Richardson resident Marc Sheff, who was in the market for an SUV, settled for a car for his wife instead. He abandoned his search for the car he wanted.

“Prices have gone through the roof with a chip shortage, there’s a lack of inventory on the dealership lot,” he said.

The lack of new cars has increased the demand for used cars.

People selling their cars at a premium — at record high prices.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Ray Shefska. He’s spent decades in the automobile industry and now runs a consumer YouTube channel, “Your Auto Advocate,” with his son.

He says don’t depend on the dealer for financing. Check with your local bank or a credit union for loans.

“You don’t have to depend on the dealer to get you financing, because that’s another way dealers make money,” he said.

Dealers are feeling the pinch, too. Car lots are empty and customers are unhappy.

James Callahan at Callahan motors says he’s paying top-dollar to wholesalers for his vehicles. Those high prices get passed on to buyers. He says wait if you can till the market simmers down.

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“Right now, buying a car would be more of a need than a want,” he said.

Brian Huth, general manager at Five Star Ford, says used cars are expensive these days.

“if you’re out shopping for a used car, not only are they in short supply, but the prices are 20% to 25% higher than what they were just months ago if not six months ago.”

He likens the market to the current housing market.

“The customer who’s selling is a happy customer because he’s getting more for more value than what he thought,” he said. “Customers trying to buy are probably going to pay a few more dollars and was expected to pay.”

According to car website Jalopnik, if you are searching for a “deal” a sedan may be your best option.

SUVs and trucks are in high demand right now.

Your Auto Advocates say try leasing if you can’t find the right vehicle.

“By leasing it, in three years you’re not in a negative equity position,” said Zach Shefska. “Three years from now, the market should be somewhat normalized, and your obligation is over, you can start fresh.”

And finally, make the most of your trade-in.

But if you are determined to buy a used vehicle do not buy before a pre-purchase inspection. “If the dealership or the lot you’re working with or even the private party seller won’t let you get a pre purchase inspection, it’s a great sign to walk away from the deal,” he said.

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Carfax’s vehicle history report will pull up any accidents or other issues with the vehicle. A severe accident in the history of the vehicle can lower the value by $1,200.