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Understanding Used Shipping Container Pricing

02.11.2018 - Posted by Updated On 02.11.2018    

It's easy to understand the difference between and new/one trip shipping container and a used shipping container, but there can be some confusion when discussing used shipping containers. When driving past a shipping container depot/yard there are massive stacks of shipping containers, often numbering in the thousands.  However, many of the containers aren't for sale – yet.

Age and Depreciated Value

A five year old shipping container and a ten year old shipping container have different depreciated values, but would typically get the same price in the secondary market. They look pretty much the same, but since shipping lines do not make selling containers their core business it doesn't make sense to sell the container until it's reached a certain age and the useful, seagoing life has been exhausted from it.  This life may vary from company to company, but it ranges from ten to 18 years old.
shipping container depreciation prices

"Sale Unit"

Once a used shipping container reaches a certain age its market as a "sale unit", and these containers are usually segregated in the container yard. Sale units can be filtered down into "as is" condition, "wind water tight", or "cargo worthy". Some lines perform the repairs to get the container up to par, while others offer them at a discount and sell them in "as is" condition.

Opportunistic Sales

Noting how used shipping container prices tend to fluctuate by time of year and location, some companies use different formulas to make opportunistic sales. The calculate in the current depreciated value of the container, less any repairs and repositioning costs, and compare that to the sales price of the some size container in the current market where it is located. If the local price is greater, the container is converted to a sale unit.

shipping container sale units

The Moral of the Story

Purchasing a new shipping container is very straight forward; however it's typically not possible to as to purchase a "5 year old, used shipping container". The line or leasing company still has a lot of life left in the container, and the depreciated cost would make it unaffordable when compared to a new container or sale unit.



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