SHOP WISE, BUY SMART
Savvy consumers are always on the lookout for a good deal. But a low price doesn't result in a smart buy if the product loses a substantial portion of its value once purchased. New cars are often cited as poor buys for this reason. Once driven off the dealer lot, brand new cars and trucks typically lose 15 to 25 percent of their value each year during the first five years of ownership. But that's not true for all vehicles. Knowing which brands hold their value best is key for consumers searching for value. Here are the best bets in 11 product categories.
TRUCK: TOYOTA TACOMA
Given its reputation for quality and durability, perhaps it's not surprising that Toyota has three vehicles among the winners in Kelly Blue Book's 2016 Best Resale Value Awards. They include the midsize Toyota Tacoma pickup, which not only topped the ranks of trucks but earned the No. 1 spot overall. Starting at $23,660, the Tacoma retains 73 percent of its resale value after three years, according to KBB, and nearly 62 percent after five years. Other trucks in KBB's top 10 include the GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Tundra, and GMC Sierra.
SUV: TOYOTA 4RUNNER
The Toyota 4Runner, much like its Tacoma cousin, has a sterling reputation for reliability. It marries off-road capabilities with the practicality of a daily commuter. The 4Runner, which starts at $33,810, retains about 67 percent of its resale value three years after the original sale, and 60.3 percent after five years, according to Kelly Blue Book. Other SUVs on KBB's list include the Jeep Wrangler and Subaru Forester.
CAR: SUBARU WRX
One of only two passenger cars to rank among Kelly Blue Book's top 10 vehicles with the best resale value, the Subaru WRX offers turbocharged quickness and all-wheel-drive maneuverability at a starting price of $26,595. According to KBB, the Subaru WRX retains 65 percent of its resale value after 36 months and 51 percent after 60 months. Among passenger cars, the sporty Chevrolet Camaro also ranks among the top 10 on KBB's best resale value list.
DESIGNER CLOTHING: THEORY
Online consignment company ThredUp has identified Theory as the designer brand with the best resale value, based on the site's 2015 sales. Rounding out the top five are 7 For All Mankind, Diane von Furstenberg, Tory Burch, and Joe's Jeans. Although these labels command a premium, reclaiming part of the retail price on consignment can help shoppers afford them.
MAINSTREAM CLOTHING: ANN TAYLOR
The mainstream brand with the best resale value, according ThredUp's 2015 sales, is Ann Taylor. With clothing discounted up to 60 percent for the retailer's semi-annual sale, consigning those pieces later could net a high percentage of the sale price. The outlet store brand Ann Taylor Factory is also No. 5 among value brands in the ThredUp report. Other top-ranked stores in the mid-range are J. Crew, Banana Republic, Gap, and H&M.
VALUE-BRAND CLOTHING: OLD NAVY
Old Navy tops ThredUp's list of value brands that recoup the biggest portion of their retail cost on the secondhand market. Consumers who assume they won't see any interest in the low-end brand on consignment should think twice before tossing Old Navy clothes in a bag for donation. Other cheap fashion brands that hold their value include Forever 21 and the Target brands Mossimo and Merona.
Aside from stratospherically expensive brands such as Patek Philippe, Rolex watches are widely acknowledged to retain the highest resale value. A Rolex in excellent condition with the original box and papers may bring in close to the original retail price -- or even turn a profit. One watch expert tells Money magazine that Rolex sport watches -- the GMT, the Submariner, and the Daytona, in particular -- tend to hold their value best over time.
FURNITURE: SOLID WOOD
When it comes to buying furniture that maintains its value (and possibly becomes an heirloom), it pays to pay more. Brands such as Ethan Allen, Stickley (known for its signature Mission styles), Drexel Heritage, Century, and Henkel Harris are typically built by craftsman and designed to last decades (if not longer). Granted, these brands aren't within everyone's budget, so it pays to look for specific features in new furniture regardless of cost. Avoid thin plywood, particleboard, pressed wood, or fiberboard -- solid wood designs and upholstered pieces with hardwood frames hold up better over years of use, ensuring value when it comes time to sell. Also avoid staples, nails, visible glue on drawers; bare foam used in cushions; and soft, easily scratched surfaces (test with a fingernail).
SMARTPHONE: APPLE IPHONE
It's hard to beat Apple's iPhone when it comes to retaining value. The line's popularity nearly assures users wishing to trade in that they'll receive top dollar for newer models. A recent check on Gazelle showed the online marketplace was willing to pay $250 to $300 for the latest iPhone 6S with 16 GB of storage in "good" condition, depending on the carrier. That's about 39 to 46 percent of the $649 purchase price. Compare that to the $185 offer for a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ with 32 GB of storage. With an original retail price of $720, the Samsung retains only about 26 percent of its value.
Here again Apple comes out on top in resale. Its MacBook line of notebook computers typically demand far more than brands running Windows operating systems, in part because Apple is the only manufacturer of MacBooks. Although Apple sells a lot of MacBooks, PC manufacturers such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo sell tons more laptops, increasing supply on the used market and suppressing resale value. Also worth noting: Macs typically cost much more when purchased new. Consumers looking to buy a new laptop for less than $900 may have to consider a Windows-based system or a used MacBook.
HANDBAGS: CHANEL AND LOUIS VUITTON
Representatives from multiple resale sites consider Chanel and Louis Vuitton, along with higher end Hermès, the "holy trinity" of designer handbags. The founders of SnobSwap, speaking to WhoWhatWear, and the CEO of Tradesy, in a Q&A with Racked, point to Chanel's 2.55 flap bags (starting at $4,900) and Louis Vuitton's Neverfull bags (starting at $1,180) as iconic styles that retain about 85 percent or more of their original retail value.