13 Tips to Help You Sell Your Car Fast
Selling a used car is a thoroughly annoying process, one that has significant stakes riding on it. In many instances, you don’t really have a choice: if you’re selling a car, it means that you have to sell it. You want to make sure that you get a fair price for your car, you don’t want anyone to fleece you, but at the same time, you don’t want to take advantage of anyone. There’s a reason that selling cars for a living is left to the professionals: there is a lot of consideration that goes into the process. If you’re trying to make a private sale of your vehicle, here are 13 tips to make the process easier and more rewarding.
Know Your Car
When you’re selling your car, you aren’t just selling a make and model. There are a ton of details about your car that aren’t very important to know when you’re driving it, but become vital when it comes to selling the car. You need to know the year the car came out, what the car’s VIN number is, in addition to any more abstract information that might be relevant for the car. Have there been any recalls on the vehicle or any recall work done on it? Are there any issues that are common with this particular car type, whether you personally have experienced them or not? Have they been dealt with? How about the miles per gallon? All of this is information that you need to find out because it’s all questions that potential buyers may be asking of you.
Determine the Car’s Value
Your next step, after learning about the car itself, is learning what the car is valued at. The gold standard for car valuation is generally considered to be the Kelley Blue Book. In the Blue Book, you will be able to find your own car’s year, make, and model, along with the average price of that particular type of car. Keep in mind, these prices are highly approximate and will vary significantly as compared to your own car’s value, due to the many different issues that your car may or may not have. There are other, external factors, too, that can affect your car’s price, namely, the market.
Understand the Market
Any market is roughly based on two overarching concepts: supply, or the amount of a product that is available, and demand, or how many people want that product. High supply and low demand will lead to lower prices, whereas low supply and high demand will lead to higher prices. Find out what the auto market looks like in your particular area. If your area is environmentally conscious, then you might find price being linked somewhat to miles per gallon. If you’re selling rurally, there’s probably a large supply and a large demand for trucks. Know what the market is like for your particular vehicle, and adjust that value you’ve determined previously accordingly.
Have All the Paperwork
In order to be as prepared as possible, you want to have all of the requisite paperwork for a car sale. This will consist of a number of different things. Most important is the title, to determine you have the right to sell the car. Try to collect all of the maintenance records for all of the work you’ve had done on it, or as much of the maintenance records as you can get together. Drafting up a bill of sale ahead of time for the impending sale is also a good idea, along with a liability release and as-is documentation, to make sure you aren’t on the line for anything after the sale.
Provide the Vehicle’s History
It’s actually quite easy to acquire your vehicle’s history: several websites provide the service for you, most notable of which being Carfax. Your prospective buyers can do the same just as easily, so it’s not like providing them the history yourself is giving them any information that they wouldn’t have had already. Giving it to them instead of making them search for it themselves instills confidence in you, and makes them more likely to trust you and believe that you are serious about the sale. It doesn’t cost very much to get the history, and the trade-off is that you can be more firm in negotiations and attract more buyers.
Thoroughly Clean the Car
No one wants to buy a filthy car. Before you even think about selling the car, you want to clean it, inside and out. That means vacuuming every internal surface, scrubbing the outside of the car, detailing it, completely cleaning the vehicle from head to toe. The better job you can do of removing signs that the car has been worn in, the better price you will be able to demand from potential buyers. It will be a serious job with just about any used car, so either set aside an entire day or weekend to work on it, or hire out the job to a professional.
Take Plenty of Photos
Attracting buyers online will require letting them have as complete of a picture of the vehicle as possible. Until holograms become widely used, the best way to do that is to take a lot of photos. Dozens of them, from every angle. They might not look at every one of them, but you want to give them the option. That will give prospective buyers a much better idea of what your car is, and let them know whether they want it or not.
Advertise Well and Honestly
You want to attract the attention of people who are looking through tons of car ads online, so feel free to be a bit creative about how you advertise. Make jokes, if you are capable of it. Do what you can to make your car particularly attractive. Be honest about any failings that the car might have, however; it will all come out when the car is inspected anyway, and the more you’re upfront about, the more firm you can be about the price you give.
Make Reaching You Easy
In the modern, digital age, potential buyers have extremely short attention spans. That means, they won’t give you any more attention than you deserve. If you make it difficult to get in contact with you, then they will move on, and not think twice about it. Post your phone number with the ad, or, if you really don’t feel comfortable doing so, put your email up and check it frequently.
Improve Your Pitch
You don’t want to just say that the car is for sale and ask if they’re interested. That’s not selling something, that’s just having a conversation. They already know what your car is, and they’ve seen your posted price. Once someone gets in contact with you, your job is to make them excited about buying your car. Don’t be obnoxious, but do come up with a creative way of talking to them, to let them know what the plus sides are of buying your car instead of anyone else’s.
Know a Mechanic
Anyone who is buying a used car is going to want to have it inspected. In order to make it easier for them, you should be in contact with a mechanic that you can send them to in order to inspect the car. There’s always the possibility that they will want their own mechanic to look at it instead of yours; if this is the case, then don’t push it, and let them do what makes them comfortable. You want to have your own mechanic as a backup, in case they don’t have anyone in mind.
Learn to Negotiate
It’s more than just start high and work to the middle. For your initial price to have any power, it has to be a bit high, but still within reason. Aim a couple thousand dollars higher than the price that you’d really like, so that when someone negotiates you down, they end up in the area that you wanted in the first place. Don’t be too firm about the price, but also, don’t be too willing to give in. You want the price that you put out to seem real, even if there’s a bit more give than you’d admit.
“I’ll Get Back to You”
You don’t need to settle it in one conversation. In fact, it’s better not to. If you make it seem like you have other buyers, whether or not you actually do, then you will have more leverage in the negotiation process. After all, you could turn and sell it to another buyer if the one you’re talking to refuses to be reasonable.
The biggest thing to keep in mind about selling a used car is that you’re not trying to beat anyone else. Rather than deceiving another party, or winning a negotiation, just think of it as you and your buyer both trying to accomplish your goals, and helping each other do so.
- DMV – Guide to Selling Your Car
- Edmunds – 10 Steps to Selling Your Car
- Jalopnik – Ten Common Sense Tips For Successfully Selling Your Car Online