My wife and I are selling one of our cars so we can buy a family car. We decided against trading in our car because we think we can get a better price for our car and don’t think we will have much trouble selling it because it is a popular model (Honda Accord) and has low mileage (50k).
Once we decided we needed to sell our car we looked at our options. Basically you can place it on Craigslist (free), newspaper classifieds (nominal fee), park it in a public area (free), or put it on Ebay (most expensive option). We decided to give Craigslist a shot because we know several people who have had luck going that route and it is a free option. We aren’t in a hurry to sell the car, so we want to take our time and make sure we can get fair value for it.
How to Sell Your Car on Craigslist
Craigslist is an online classifieds site where it is free and easy way to post items for sale, items you want to purchase, help wanted, etc. It’s a great place to buy, sell, trade, etc. Here are sine tips to help you sell your car (or anything else) on Craigslist.
List a sale price, but be willing to negotiate
Determine Pricing. Don’t just pick a price out of the air. Go get comps from an online source such as Kelley Blue Book or NADA. KBB lists average prices for different vehicle makes and models, as well as prices for trade-ins, private sales, and suggested retail value (dealership prices). NADA gives price ranges for trade-ins. You don’t have to use these prices as the Gospel, but rather as a starting point. Remember when pricing your car to take other factors into consideration such as condition, mileage, vehicle popularity, how much you owe, etc.
Be willing to negotiate. Once you have a prospective buyer, you will probably need to negotiate the price. Be willing to bend on your price a little if necessary. If you are not willing to drop your price, be sure to state that in your ad copy and be firm but polite when negotiating. (but a better idea would be to just price it slightly higher than your desired price and be willing to come down a little; buyers expect some price flexibility in all but the most popular vehicles. As with all negotiations, be polite and respectful, but also be willing to walk away from the deal if it isn’t to your liking. There should never be any pressure to make a sale or to buy.
Create an add that “sells!”
Create solid ad copy. Be descriptive. You night be surprised how many people don’t write a good description of their vehicle – often leaving out key information such as make, model, year, color, trim level, or even the price! Take your time to write down all the details and write a description that will “sell” your car. Be sure to notate any problems your vehicle may have – any prospective buyer will find out anyway, so it’s best to respect a prospective buyer and be honest up front. One last tip, DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS. IT’S HARD TO READ AND EQUATES TO SHOUTING!
Include photos. You will receive more responses to your ad if you include photos. Craigslist limits you to 4 photos, and the quality isn’t the greatest because they are scaled down for size/quality. If the photos that show up on your ad don’t do your car justice then let buyers know you have more photos available upon request, or host them on a photo sharing site like Flickr and include a link in your ad. Prospective buyers can click the link and see multiple hi res photos of your car.
Make yourself and the car available
Make yourself available. You don’t want to list your car for sale right before the weekend, then head out of town. Be sure to make yourself available so potential buyers can take a look at your car or take it for a test drive. The same thing goes for e-mail or phone – be sure to check your e-mail and have your phone turned on.
Make the car available. Another way to get people to see your car is to park it in a public location and leave that information in your ad. Some people park their car in their driveway or outside their home. If you are uncomfortable giving your address out to strangers, consider parking your car at another location. Just be sure to get permission before parking it in a place that doesn’t belong to you.
Note about privacy on Craigslist: Craigslist will not display your e-mail if you do not wish them to do so, so you can receive e-mails through their autoforwarding tool; this is a great security feature. Likewise, many people prefer not to leave their phone number for privacy reasons. Go with your gut on this one and do what you are comfortable doing.
Don’t fall for scams. There are thousands of scams out there, and Craigslist seems to attract a lot of them (not through the fault of Cragslist, mind you; just the nature of their service). Craigslist has a great section on avoiding scams. The short of it is this: Only sell locally, or to someone you know if they are not local. Avoid wiring money via services like Western Union or MoneyGram, do not accept cashier’s checks or money orders, avoid third party escrow services, and NEVER give out your financial information. Finally, if the deal smells bad, just walk away. In most cases, you will have no recourse if you are taken in on a scam and it’s better to lose out on a potential sale than lose everything.
My Experience with Selling a Car on Craigslist
We actually took the plunge and sold our car on Cragslist. We posted the car late on a Saturday night and received multiple e-mails and phone calls over the next couple days. The eventual buyer drove it on Monday evening and called the next day to say he would buy it. Overall we negotiated a fair deal – only a couple hundred less than our asking price.
The key to this deal was the willingness of both parties to reach a fair deal. We met halfway for the test drive (20 minute for both of us) and my wife and I drove about 40 minutes to his bank so we could sign over the title to them and get a check made out to us.
We may have been able to avoid the bank, but I feel more comfortable receiving the check directly from the bank instead of receiving a cashier’s check from someone I don’t know. (Cashier’s checks are extremely difficult to check against fraud, and you often won’t know until it bounces back, which could take up to 2 weeks… after which tie your car is gone and you are left without a car or the money).
Overall the buyer was great to deal with and the process went smoothly.
Do you have tips or any experience with selling your car on Craigslist or other online services?