This morning I’m doing something that is a very common occurrence here, I’m explaining to someone how to sell their car. In a previous blog I’ve covered when it would be the right time to upgrade. Today I’ll discuss how to go about it. Selling your car, for the most part, is not enjoyable. The most common complaints I hear are, “I don’t want to have to continually show it”, “I’m horrible at negotiating”, “I don’t want to have to deal with being a sales person” and “whine, whine, blah, blah”. People want to just go buy a new car and trade in the old one. Can this work for you? In a nutshell, probably NO. Yes, if your car is new enough, then you can certainly trade it in, IF you’re happy taking a huge financial hit. If your car is older, chances are the dealership won’t even take it from you. If you fall into the first category then the dealer will be happy to take it off your hands for a very small payout. If you haven’t noticed, there are a lot of “if’s” involved in trading in your car. When people insist then I always suggest you make the deal on the new car and THEN you ask about the trade, it’ll truly reveal the amount they’re giving you. The dealership will take yours and all the other trade ins, group them together, and sell them off to used car dealers. You take such a huge hit because numerous people have their hands in that pie. I always suggest, even though it’s a hassle, you try to sell it yourself. However apprehensive you might be, by going this route you can gain $2-$3,000 more over a standard trade in. Of course, if you’re buying and selling used cars then you really have no choice anyway.
So what’s the best way to sell it yourself?
Here’s what I tell my customers to do:
- Figure out the sale price. I always recommend www.edmunds.com because I find the pricing to be the fairest.
- Put a for sale sign on it (some places will actually give you a ticket for having a for sale sign on your car but I usually suggest you try it anyway, but do it at your own risk).
- Advertise on any of the numerous websites; craigislist, auto trader, ebay etc., where you can post the sale.
- Clean your car, inside and out. Sometimes people show up here with a car they want to buy and I just can’t believe the seller didn’t take a ½ hour to clean the thing, it’s not a 747 your cleaning.
- Pull all your records together (you know, the ones you’ve been keeping of all the repairs you’ve done to it). If you don’t have them call the mechanic and ask him/her for a copy (I often supply people with these).
- Pay for a car fax report (which is a detailed report on any incidents that were ever reported on the vehicle, from an accident to a state inspection) so you can show people and save them the money on doing it themselves. This also presents you as someone that has actually taken care of the vehicle which gives the prospective buyer the sense that you’re not screwing them over.
- If there are a few things that stand out as needing repair it’s a good idea to do it before you sell. Broken things left to the buyers imagination can really cost you in sale. If the car has a check engine light on, a buyer is not going to know whether it needs a sensor or a new engine, replace the sensor. People often argue that point with me, “but I don’t want to put any more money in it”. When one of my customers is buying a car and they tell me the seller said they only need a sensor, I always question why they believe them, “if it’s only that why didn’t they just change it?” There’s ALWAYS a big issue with broken AC. A car with a broken AC is equal to the price of a vehicle with no AC. You cant tell if it’s a $20 or a $1500 repair without doing investigative work. So if you know it’s a cheap repair, just fix it.
Finally, when you have a buyer don’t fear the negotiation, ask a friend that’s a better negotiator than you if need be.