Every few years it’s time to buy a new car. But that leaves you with a question to answer. What do you do with the old one? Instead of seeing what the dealer will offer for trade-in value, try selling your car on Craigslist. More often than not, you can get more money as a reward for the extra work. Just be sure to follow these tips to help your sale go smoothly.
1. Imagine You Are The Buyer
Before listing the car, imagine you are buying a car on Craigslist. Sell you car how you would want to buy the car. This advice applies to the appearance of the car to the listing description.
2. Make Sure It’s Clean
Nobody wants to buy a dirty car. Especially for the full asking price. That’s why dealerships will detail the car and make it spotless as you sign the papers to get the keys.
Pay somebody to clean your car, take it to the car wash, or go to the store and buy the various interior cleaners to make the car look as nicely as possible on the inside and outside.
3. Post Lots of Pictures to Craigslist
After you car is clean and spotless, take lots of pictures of the exterior and interior. If some areas need repairs or you added a customized piece (i.e. cold air intake, chrome exhaust, or tinted windows) take pictures if possible. It can save a lot of unnecessary calls, texts, or e-mails from people that will no longer be interested once they see a clear picture.
Also, be willing to take additional pictures or video of your car to send to a prospective buyer. If you have a nice sports car or luxury sedan, you will probably get more requests like these than selling a Chevy Cavalier for instance.
4. List It For At Least Blue Book Value
By entering your vehicle information into Kelley Blue Book, you can see view the estimated private party and trade-in value for your car. A buyer is never going to pay more than the listed price so list a little higher than your “bottom selling price” if you are willing to haggle. Otherwise, say your price is firm to keep some people offering low-ball offers. You usually see this with classic cars like muscles cars from the 50s and 60s or other vehicles that are already priced low to sell quickly.
Searching similar listing on Craigslist can also give you an idea of the current asking price for similar makes and models in your area. These prices can either be higher or lower than Blue Book Value.
Sometimes you might have to accept less than Blue Book value. Especially if it needs additional work like new tires, an oil change, or other repairs. Subtract the cost of these repairs from the Blue Book value. Also, if only one or two buyers show interest in your current price you might have to lower it to close the sale or attract more buyers.
If you have to go below your asking price, make sure it never goes below the dealer trade-in price. This is because dealerships historically offer less because they will probably only be able to sell it for as much as you can and they need to still make a profit.
5. Are You Willing To Trade?
If you are willing to trade your vehicle, you will get a lot more offers. Of course, if a motorcycle or ATV won’t be very practical and you don’t want to get bombarded with prospective trades, be sure to state “No Trades” in the headline and listing description.
6. Communicate by Text or Phone
You have three different communication options to talk to prospective buyers when selling your car on Craigslist. E-mail, phone calls, and text messages. You will have the most success by allowing people to call or text. In fact, texting might be the most popular option until the conversation gets serious about negotiating a selling price.
7. Be Willing to Say No
Unless you need to sell the car quickly because you need the money, you don’t have to accept the first offer. If you feel like the car is worth more than the asking price, eventually a willing buyer will come along. Remember to be realistic as not every car gets Blue Book value depending on the demand for that vehicle.
Also, if you are going to sit and wait on a better offer you need to take into account that each month you need to pay monthly insurance and the car is still slowly depreciating in value. Only you can factor the opportunity cost because it depends how much interest has been generated in the car so far and the ongoing costs until it is finally sold.
Selling your car on Craigslist might feel overwhelming at first. In reality, people have been selling cars on their own for over a century. They used to use the newspaper classifieds previously. By getting your car in pristine appearance, being familiar with the fair selling price, and being willing to negotiate with multiple buyers will allow you to get the best price.