Used car prices are up sharply, thanks to greater demand for older cars, particularly those that are fuel efficient. If you own a car and want to sell it, chances are you’ll find a ready supply of buyers if your car is in good condition and is a desirable model.
The easiest way to get rid of your car is to trade it in for a new one. But, that trade in will yield a lower price than what you can get for it on your own, a move you want to avoid until your other options have been exhausted.
Let’s take a look at how you can profit from the sale of your used car.
1. Know your market. The type of vehicle you have will play a large part in market demand. If you live in Florida or California, your convertible carries a premium. The same can be said for a pickup truck in Texas or a 4×4 in New England.
Family sedans sell well in any market, particularly late model cars in good condition. Compact cars are desired by young people including college students looking for affordable transportation. Trucks, vans and SUVs still have an appeal with hobbyists and commercial operators desiring these vehicles.
2. Know what it is worth. You may want $10,000 for your car, but it may be worth only $6,500. Knowing its worth will help you set a realistic price and sell your vehicle.
Websites such as Kelley Blue Book offer pricing on new and used cars. Plug in your information including make, model, model year and trim level to find out what a buyer might pay for your car. Know that this information is readily available to anyone and is frequently referenced by people looking for a car.
3. Get your car ready for sale. You know the market and you know your car’s value. Now, you want make your car appealing for prospective buyers.
This means two things: cleaning up its appearance and resolving maintenance issues. Your car may be mechanically sound but if the paint is dull, the wheels dirty and the interior isn’t vacuumed, you’ll give the perception that the car is not in good condition. A car that has been carefully maintained and detailed will fetch more than one that is not.
4. Market your vehicle. You have many options for marketing your vehicle. The most important one is word of mouth. Before you post an ad or put a “for sale” sign on your vehicle, tell everyone you know that your car is for sale. Chances are a buyer will step forth from that crowd.
You can expand your marketing efforts by posting a “for sale” sign on your car with a phone number. Furthermore, you can post an ad on Craigslist or purchase a listing on eBay Motors. You may want to limit your ad exposure, however, if you don’t want to deal with every Tom, Dick and Harry that wants your car, so advertise with discretion.
5. Show your car. With your car on the market, you’ll need to show it to prospective buyers. First, deal only with people that are serious buyers. Screen people and eliminate anyone that doesn’t express strong interest in your car. Second, set up appointments for people to stop by, look at your car and drive it. Go with them as they take your car out; never entrust your vehicle to a stranger.
When showing your car, you’ll want to allow people to pop the hood, lift the trunk, crawl underneath and otherwise inspect your car. Agree to a mechanical inspection at the buyer’s cost.
6. Negotiate with confidence. You know what your car is worth. Your buyer has a price in mind too. Hopefully, you’re not so firm on your price that you won’t move a bit and the same can be said for your buyer.
Be prepared to show paperwork backing up the car’s worth. A KBB print out can help as well as ads for similar models sold. A price differential of less than $100 can be bridged if you throw in a full tank of gasoline or a spare tire.
7. Close the sale. Once a price has been reached, accept payment for your car. Take cash only or go to the bank to have a certified check made by the buyer.
Fill out the appropriate DMV forms including the title and give it to the buyer. Turn over one or more sets of keys and anything else promised with the car. Once the buyer drives off, contact your insurer to cancel coverage.
Used car prices fluctuate and may be lower now then they were a few months ago when gas prices were highest. If a car warranty is still in effect, use that feature as a selling point too. Most warranties will transfer although the buyer may have to pay a paperwork fee to complete this process.
Matt Keegan is editor and publisher of “Auto Trends Magazine,” a leading online news and information website for car buyers and enthusiasts.