You may have been considering selling your car, but may be unsure how to go about it. You may have heard that in order to sell your car at a good price, you have to go through an agent. It is partly true that you may need to have a sales agent to sell your set of wheels at the right price. While these sales agents are important, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to sell your car privately. The process may seem taxing for beginners and you may even feel overwhelmed. All you need to do is follow some simple steps to turn your car into cold hard cash. Let’s explore these steps below.

1. Have All Your Documents in Order

There is always a lingering suspicion about used cars. The main question in the potential buyer’s mind is, why is it being sold? Does it have mechanical problems? Is it legal? These and many more questions will always arise in a used car sale. A buyer wants to know that what they are buying is something clean. There is no better way to allay their fears than by having all your paperwork in order. So, what are some of the documents needed?

  • Pink slip. The pink slip, or title, shows you have the legal right to sell your car. If you are still making payments on your vehicle, your best bet is to pay off the loan before selling.
  • Bill of sale. This records the transaction between you and the buyer. While it’s not required in all states, it’s good to have. You can get one from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website.
  • Release of Liability/Notice of Transfer. If the buyer gets into an accident or gets a ticket after purchase, this releases you from any liability. Again, you can get the form from the DMV.
  • Vehicle history report. An Autocheck Report will give you a lot of confidence in your sales process. These reports show the number of previous owners and any accidents so the buyer can purchase your car with confidence.

2. Set the Right Price

Setting the right price to charge for your car can cause a bit of uneasiness. You want the price of your car to leap from the ad page to the eyes of potential buyers. You want your price to be unique when compared to other sellers. There is no magic in this, though. You just need to do some research. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you to do this, such as the Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds Used Car Value Appraisal Tool

In any case, have essential details of your car at your fingertips, such as the year of manufacture, make, model, mileage, condition of the vehicle, and engine size. After you enter all the details, you should see the value of your car. 

Armed with this value, the pricing should be a breeze. Ideally, you want to put the price slightly higher than the valuation figure. For example, for a car that has a market value of $4,300, you may put the asking price at $4,850. The reason is to give room for negotiation. Once you are through with pricing, you want to spruce up your car to make it market-ready.

3. Make Your Car Appealing

Now it is time to make your car look nice to your prospective buyers. Of course, you want your car to stand out. The prospective buyer should take a look at it and feel deep down that at last, his search for a car has ended. 

Here is what you need to do: Give your car a good scrub. We know it will not be possible to turn your car upside-down fixing every dent and scratch. However, you should be able to remove all the muck that piles in the car with time. If you are able to give it a new paint job, even better. You are likely to get better results if you entrust such work to professionals. 

If there are mechanical issues, such as problems with the starter or transmission, you need to smooth those out with your mechanic. Think about the questions a prospective buyer might ask you. Open the car and get inside, look around, and try to think as the buyer would. Once you are able to make your car more attractive to your buyer, you then need to let the world know that you are selling your car.

4. Have Attractive Ads

There are a variety of ways you can use to get people to know that you are selling. Creating attractive ads is one of them. To create attractive ads, you will need quality photos. After all, would you buy an item in an ad with grainy or blurred photos? Certainly not. Therefore, you will need to take nice, clean shots. 

Take photos at various angles of the car. Don’t forget the pictures of the back seat, the driver’s seat, under the hood, and the inside of the trunk. Make your point to include a picture of the odometer to show off the low mileage of your car. 

Equipped with quality pictures, you now need to advertise your car. There is no shortage of such places to advertise. They include the following:

  • Craigslist. The great thing about Craigslist is that it’s free to post an ad. However, with the freedom of the service comes the problem of scammers.
  • Autotrader. This popular magazine is a paid medium of advertising with a wide reach. Your ad is likely to reach many people.
  • eBay Motors. Here, you can promote your car and sell it fast. However, anyone with internet access can see your ad, so you’ll have to determine possible delivery or shipping options.
  • Social media. Ads on social media websites such as Facebook are charged on “cost per click” or “cost per thousand impressions.” It is a good form of advertising, especially for young prospects.
  • “For sale” sign on the car window. It still works. The trick is to put your vehicle in a busy area so more people can see it. 
  • Classified sections of newspapers. The cost of such ads is low and has a wide reach. 
  • Word of mouth. Tell a friend to tell a friend.

While drafting the ad, make sure to have details on mileage, year, make, model, and price because you will be prompted as you create the ad.  

5. Separate Potential Buyers From Fakes

Now that you have your car out there, you can steady yourself for responses. Most prospective buyers will make phone calls and send emails. To avoid confusion, waste of time on unpromising prospective buyers, and being scammed, you need to organize yourself. Wherever you have your ad, you need to screen callers who are worth your time. 

Be ready to receive a lot of calls, especially if your car condition seems to match the pricing. However, not all prospective buyers will give you good offers. Others will sound like low-balling jokers. That is why you should first direct the calls to voicemail. You can later screen them and decide which you can negotiate with or not. 

After gauging the seriousness of callers in the voicemail, you now have a list of phone numbers. You can call these prospective buyers for further discussion. Remember, you need to be prompt in your responses. Most buyers are checking a variety of ads and go into a negotiation with the sellers who respond the quickest. Brace yourself now for the negotiation. 

6. Negotiate

After screening your prospective buyers, you now have a shortlist of the most promising ones. You need to call them to start the negotiation process. Usually, you will arrange for a safe meeting point for this. It could be at a shopping mall or your local recreation facility. Asking a friend to accompany you is a good idea for security reasons.

Naturally, your prospect will ask for a test drive. Because they are still a stranger, you will accompany them in the test drive so that you can show them the test drive route. Whatever you do, don’t be in a rush or look desperate for the sale. That will weaken your bargaining power in the eyes of the buyer. 

After the test drive, the buyer will be back with their decision. Some buyers are forthright in their decision, while others are noncommittal. Selling is a game of psychology. There are several responses and behaviors buyers will have. As a seller, you should look out for them and expect them. Some of the responses might take the following forms:

“This car is good, but…(silence).” This is a good sign in the negotiation process. It tells you the buyer wants the car but needs more coaxing to tip over. Subtly find out what is holding him back. Using words like, “How much are you willing to pay?” could push the negotiation farther.

“Is this the best price you can offer?” It’s another sign the buyer wants the car. Although you need to be flexible, don’t reduce the price immediately.

“This amount is all I have.” If you play your cards well, you may be heading somewhere in the sale process.

“My way or the highway kind of price.” The buyer is tough. The negotiation has hit a dead end. You can take the amount or leave it. It is up to you to know whether to accept or not.

The above paints some of the situations that might arise in negotiations. If you are appropriately prepared for them, you may win the negotiation process and sell your car. If so, it is now time to finish off this matter by proceeding to the transaction stage.

7. Closing the Deal

You are about to part ways—you as a happy seller with cash in hand, and the buyer as a happy new owner of a used car. First, you need to know how you will be paid. A cashier’s check or cash are the best forms of payment. However, if your car has an outstanding loan on it, you’ll have to finalize the loan issues with the bank. 

The forms you will need will vary from state to state. Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles website to find the appropriate forms and information you need. Once you fill out those forms, as well as sign the title and hand over the bill of sale, you are good to go. The final step is to instruct your agent to cancel your car insurance policy.

Wrapping It Up

As you have seen above, selling your car to a private party doesn’t have to be full of headaches. All you need to do is follow some easy steps, and you can sell your car quickly and for the best price possible.


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