SELLING A CAR > Negotiating the Sale of Your Car

Negotiating the Sale of Your Car

By the time you have a potential buyer for your car, you should have established your price. The next thing to put in the  front of your mind is the absolute minimum you will take. This is the price you will not go below. Next, consider where you want to show your car. After going through this process many times, I know that I don’t want strangers to know where I live. I always set up a meeting in a public place – usually at a mall. You should also have someone with you. You are meeting a stranger, so be safe.

Make sure you stated in your ad that someone coming to see your car should have cash in hand. This discourages folks who are not serious buyers from wasting your time. There are a lot of flakes out there. Always request that a potential buyer bring identification.

Presenting Your Car

Here is your chance to show off your car. Begin by walking the buyer around the car. This shows off how nice the paint and body are. Make sure you have previously cleaned and detailed the car. Next, open up all the doors, hood and trunk. People like to buy the cleanest car they can find. If it looks its best, many people don’t even consider how many miles are on it. Point out how clean the interior is and how fresh it smells. Encourage the buyer to get in the car and check it out. The next thing to do is have them start the car to listen to the engine. Have them try out all of the controls – lights, heater, air conditioner, windows, turn signals, emergency flashers – even the radio. It is hard to sell a car if things don’t work. To back up the condition of your car, present your service records. This helps assure a buyer that the car has been taken care of.

Taking the Car for a Test Drive

If the car has impressed a potential buyer, it is time to suggest a test drive. I never let a buyer take my car out for a test drive without me in it. And it’s a good idea to have your companion ride along with you – remember to be safe. Being with the test driver discourages them from abusing your car. Also, I don’t want my car to simply disappear on a test drive. Suggest the buyer drive the car around town and get on the freeway. You want to show off how well it runs and stops under all conditions.

Ask if They are Ready to Make an Offer

Once you have returned from your test drive, it is time to prepare yourself for negotiations. Don’t be afraid to ask if they are ready to buy the car. A lot of folks get a little nervous at this point but remember why you are here – you want to sell that car now. In the vast majority of cases the potential buyer will throw out a very low offer. They always assume you are a little desperate to sell the car. Stick to your guns here. Explain that you have done a great deal of research on cars just like yours – you know the market rate for the car. Counter with the lower price you would consider. The buyer will most likely offer another lower price. Tell them with the condition your car is in, you can’t go any lower and that you have another person coming out to see the car today. This will put the buyer a little on edge if they are serious. They don’t want to miss out on a great car. Restate your price and ask if they are ready to do the paperwork.

Completing the Sale

Once my buyer has agreed on the price, it is time to do a little paperwork. Begin by counting out the money. I only take cash – I don’t want to be ripped off by a fake cashier’s check or money order. Never take a personal  check. Next, I always write up a bill of sale. Write out that you are selling your car “as is.” Include a description of the make and model, write down the vehicle identification number and license plate number. Put both of your names on the bill of sale, date it and have the buyer sign it. You should have two of these ready so you can both have a copy. You don’t want to be liable for any faults in the car, and you want to make sure you are released of all interest in it. One thing I always do is not cancel my insurance on the car for a week or two. This is just in case the buyer does not transfer the car into their name right away. Once again, this is for your protection.

I have used these techniques many, many times with great results. Just remember the basics – present a clean car and stick to your price. If you let your car go too cheaply, you will feel a real sense of seller’s remorse. Remember, you will most likely need the cash from this sale to finance your next car. Sell happy and good luck!

2 comments on “Negotiating the Sale of Your Car

  1. I keep getting letters in the mail from the place I bought my car. They keep saying they want to buy it back? I think its because I have low mileage. Is it better to sell to them since they are asking me?

    • Hi Sue. I have seen this happen a lot. Be very wary of this. Dealers notoriously offer a very low price on buy backs and trade ins. I know this can be tempting for folks who hate selling cars themselves. From what I learned in my days selling cars at a big dealership I leaned about the profit in used cars. A great deal of the time dealers will make more on a used car than on new ones. The profit margins is just a lot higher on the used car. Used cars are a selling opportunity for clients that have sticker shock on a new car. They steer the customer to a lower priced vehicle. Their goal is to never let a person walk away without a car. If you choose to let the dealer buy it back make sure you do some research on of your cars value. Be firm with the dealer and you may just come out ahead. Best of luck, Badley.

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