Your Old Vehicle: Selling It Privately
There are two ways to sell your car privately. The best way is to list it with a nationwide used car classified service. Online brokers display your vehicle's listing to thousands of motivated buyers in your area who are searching for the exact make and model that you are trying to sell. Providing that your car is fairly priced (by using Edmunds or Kelly Blue Book) this can be the quickest way to sell a vehicle, without having to trade it in.
The second and most traditional way is to put a "For Sale" sign in the window and list it locally. I suggest taking a week-long ad in your local newspaper's classified section. Anyone looking for a car will start their search here. Include the year, make, and model (2008 FORD TAURUS LTD). If it has low miles include that in your ad (LOW MILES or 20K MILES). If it has high miles, don't. Mention the number of cylinders in the engine (4, 6, or 8), and whether it has an standard or automatic transmission (STD, AUTO). Keep the ad short and sweet, but don't forget to mention four wheel drive (4WD), AC, CD-players (CD), leather interior (LTHR), and power accessories (LOADED). Always end the advertisement with these words, "IN EXCELLENT CONDITION." If that tag line is missing, you won't get any calls. Now using a Edmunds (more realistic) or Kelly Blue Book, determine your vehicle's fair market value. Fair market value is somewhere between trade-in and retail. Check dealer ads and classified listings to make sure your asking price is reasonable for your market. If you're happy with that amount put it at the bottom of your ad. Don't forget to include a first name and your phone number. Here's what your ad should look like:
2008 FORD TAURUS LTD - LOW MILES, 6CYL, AUTO, AC, CD, LOADED, IN EXCELLENT CONDITION - ASKING $13,995 CALL SAM 555-5555
Other advertising avenues can be found at your local convenience store. Bi-weekly tabloids like the Swap Sheet and Recycler have classified listings, while the Auto Trader and Picture Page are specialists in motor vehicles. The names of the tabloids in your area may be different, but their purpose remains the same. Most of them will demand payment when your vehicle is sold, even if you found your buyer through another source.
Prepare for possible scheduling hassles when multiple buyers want to see the car at the same time. Prepare for negotiating. Make sure to have a firm idea of how low a price you'll accept. How will you handle competing offers and other dilemmas? My rule of thumb is generally to accept the first reasonable offer from a buyer with cash. If someone calls after another has made a commitment but not produced full payment, take their name and number. Be prepared for offers significantly lower than your asking price. Always have an absolute rock bottom price in mind, as most classified ad shoppers are looking for a good deal. An absence of inquiries indicates your asking price is too high. Lower your asking price if the vehicle is not moving. Unless the car is highly desirable, it may take several weeks to sell.
Be prepared for tire kickers - people who don't
have the money to buy cars, but look just the same. They are a nuisance to dealerships and often call on
private sellers. It's hard to differentiate a genuine customer from a tire kicker, so treat all respondents to
your advertisement with courtesy. Serious customers will generally want to take a test drive, so keep any
vehicle offered for sale registered and insured. Make sure their license is current, jot down their phone
number, and make a note of any change in address. If you don't accompany them, insist on photocopying their
driver's license and auto insurance card. Make sure they leave you their car keys, and ask for an itinerary of
their test drive. Refuse test drives to people who show up at your house with no transportation (walkers), or
to anyone who can't meet you at your house or place of business. The recovery rate for stolen cars is poor,
and most recovered thefts are badly abused.