There are some people who love the process of selling a car on their own. For them, selling is like a competitive sport. Who is better at negotiating, my opponent or me? If you’re not the competitive type, but still want to get the most value for your used vehicle, selling your car yourself may make sense. The advantage of selling your car yourself is that you’re in control of the whole process. When you trade-in your car at a dealership it may feel like someone else is in control, leaving you to wonder if you actually got the best value for your trade-in.
Regardless of whether you sell or trade-in your vehicle, you’ll want to get the most money for your time, car and effort. The key is to not let your emotional attachment to your car overshadow your financial success. Once you decide it’s time to get rid of your used vehicle you need to move from seeing the car through your eyes, to seeing it through the eyes of the new buyer. The second key is to size up your competition. When you’re the seller, you think your car is the Prom Queen. In reality, it’s the buyer who’s the Prom Queen and your car is the mousy date waiting to be chosen as the escort. Lastly, to be a smart seller, you’ll need to do your homework.
Selling your car yourself
While selling your car on your own may net you more money than trading your vehicle in, you should be prepared for what the process entails. Consider these three things when before choosing selling your car yourself:
- Price: Car buyers are savvy shoppers. More than ninety percent of buyers research the vehicles they are interested in online. Put yourself in their shoes and check out your competition online. If you can find vehicles similar to yours in age, equipment, condition and mileage, this will help you set a realistic and competitive price to advertise your vehicle. Compare these prices to those in Kelley Blue Book, N.A.D.A. and Black Book.
- Condition: Some competitors are going to be professional retailers. They invest in reconditioning vehicles to “Very Good” or “Excellent” condition and often back them with certifications and warranties. Take a look at your car as a buyer would and pick out the items that need to be brought up to snuff before listing it for sale. Budget at least for a thorough cleaning, any safety items that need to be fixed (brake lights, tires, windshield cracks, etc.) and major appearance flaws like dents or scratches. If you choose not to recondition your vehicle, be ready to see fewer buyers and negotiate.
- Availability: Your competition advertises their vehicles where the buyers shop – and you should follow suit. Buyers want to see clear pictures, a detailed description, and contact information. Think about what phone number and/or email address you want displayed. If buyers don’t get a response from you quickly they may move on to the next listing. Buyers expect cars to be available on their schedules, not yours, so be accommodating.
Safety is important – not only yours, but your family’s as well. Plan where you will take your vehicle to be looked at by a potential buyer. Bring someone with you. Think about the test drive and how to protect yourself and your car. Will you accept check, cash or money order for the sale of your vehicle?
If you’re selling your current car on your own before buying a new one, keep in mind that you will be competing with other sellers and retailers. The advantage that many retailers such as AutoNation Dealerships have is that they are able to offer a buyer financing, a 3-day money back guarantee (if the buyer changes his/her mind) as well as a warranty. Remember, as with anything, a used car is only worth what someone will pay for it, there is no set value.