sell a car privately

The American car market is the second biggest on the face of the planet.

If you’re looking to ditch your old car in favor of a new one, given the high vehicle demand that’s out there, you should have no problem selling.

Conventional wisdom would tell you to drive the vehicle you want to offload to a car lot and let a salesperson make you an offer. That conventional wisdom, while simple, will likely get you a much lower price than what you can get by selling privately.

It’s true, selling privately takes more work. Still, when you consider that doing so could lead to thousands of extra dollars in your pocket, it tends to be worth the extra lifting.

Below, our team steps you through the process of how to sell a car privately so you can maximize your vehicle’s resale value!

1. Get Your Timing Right

We get that the call to sell off your car as soon as possible can be a tempting one. Maybe you need the cash. Maybe you’re just desperate to trade up.

Whatever your reason may be for wanting to sell fast, we’re going to advise that you fight that urge. Any time you’re selling anything from a position of desperation, you’re going to lose money.

When you’re considering how to sell a car privately, you’ll want to think about when demand for your kind of vehicle is at its highest.

For example, minivans sell well in the summer since people like taking their families on road trips. All-wheel drive cars sell better in the winter.

Time putting up your “for sale” sign correctly and you’ll get a lot more offers.

2. Land on a Fair Price

One of the hardest questions to answer when you’re trying to figure out how to sell a car privately is picking your price.

If your price too low, you’re losing money and may get the same result by selling to a dealer. If your price too high, you won’t get any offers.

To try and price your car right, leverage tools like Kelly Blue Book and True Car. Be honest with yourself about your car’s condition and adjust your price accordingly.

Finally, build some mental wiggle room into your asking price in case negotiations come up later.

3. Prep Your Vehicle

When we say to prep your vehicle, we don’t mean spending a ton of money on fixes. Chances are, you won’t be able to recoup restoration costs when it comes time to sell.

For that reason, focus on doing minor cosmetic upgrades like giving your car a good wash and maybe touching up an obvious scratch with some inexpensive vehicle touch up paint.

4. Find Your Paperwork

Check your state’s DMV website to see what paperwork you’ll need to legally sell your car. In most places, you’ll want to give your new owner the car’s title, bill of sale, maintenance records, and any paperwork pertaining to your car’s warranty (if applicable).

Make sure to locate your paperwork ahead of time so you’re not left fumbling when a buyer shows up.

5. Take High-Quality Photos

In order to get a buyer’s attention online or offline, you’re going to need excellent photos. Since most of you will take your pictures with a cell phone, make sure that your phone packs enough power in the megapixel department so that pictures don’t come out blurry when transferred to your computer.

The more quality photos you take of your car, the fewer questions you’ll have to answer when you start advertising your vehicle.

6. Advertise

Now that your car is ready to sell, it’s time to let people know. List your car online in as many places as you can.

Craigslist is a good place to start and you can go on from there.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of social media. Post pictures of your car across your accounts and let people know to spread the word. You can even do paid promotion for posts on Facebook to widen your reach.

If you’d like, you can also consider advertising your car sale in local print publications (newspaper, PennySaver, etc.).

7. Screen Leads

Once you advertise your car for sale, you’ll start getting contacted by a lot of people. Do not offer to meet everyone who reaches out.

Talk to people a little bit. Ask to speak to them over the phone. Get their full name and make sure that they’re comfortable using your preferred form of payment.

If something feels off, trust your gut and move on.

8. Close The Deal

Once you find a buyer that you think is legit, you’ll want to meet them so they can see your car and try it out.

Always meet in a public place, during the day, and bring a friend.

Remember, your buyer may be as uneasy as you. Because of that, do your best to appear friendly and make them as comfortable as possible.

After your buyer inspects your vehicle, they may need to negotiate your price based on any unadvertised issues they notice. Be open to discussions and once you agree on any adjustments, make the sale!

9. Don’t Forget

Selling your car will require that you accept payment and hand over your car’s title and bill of sale. You may also be required to have your buyer sign a release of liability that needs to be delivered by you to the DMV.

Once documents and payment have been transferred, you’re good to go!

Wrapping Up Tips on How to Sell a Car Privately and Get the Price You Want

With our how to sell a car privately tips, you’ll be able to showcase your vehicle in its best light and ensure that you can get top dollar for it.

Remember, safety should always be your #1 priority when selling a vehicle. Always exercise caution, avoid getting scammed, and know that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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