Now it’s time to see all your prep work through. The final steps of selling your car are to show the car to prospective buyers and complete the sale.
6. Show the Car
Be prepared to answer the same questions over and over. Often times the answers will be clearly stated in your ad. People just don’t read. Normally this is annoying. But in this case it reveals what is important to prospective buyers. Listen carefully to how they respond to your answers.
If you start seeing a pattern of disinterest in one or two aspects of your car, you might do well to make a change either to the car itself or how you present your response to that particular question (but never lie).
When prospects evaluate your car they will need to drive it. Make sure each one has a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. Go with them. Remember, these people are strangers. A degree of trust is required from both parties, but the seller is the one with more at stake in this situation. Do not let the vehicle out of your sight as there’s no telling what could happen. It’s also best to let a friend or family member know who you’re meeting with and when.
7. Make A Deal
Your pricing should be in line with a price guide (e.g. Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds). Be prepared to receive lower offers by some margin, generally between 10% and 20%. However, less experienced people will often not bargain or negotiate.
On the other hand you should also expect low ball offers far below your asking price. Don’t waste your time with those. Low ballers are tire kickers who are not serious prospects. Even if they do buy your car the effort you will expend will likely be excessive and the price will be much lower than you want.
So price your car according to book or thereabout and then be prepared to entertain somewhat lower offers. Obviously the lower you go the sooner you’ll sell. But a good car that’s well presented will help ensure you sell faster and much closer to book value than a car that’s not as well prepared.
Once a price has been agreed upon with a buyer they are to present you with valid payment (cashiers check or cash) and you sign the title over to them. It’s usually a good idea to also use a Bill of Sale to further document the transfer. Beware of scams involving cashiers checks or ANY deviation from “cash for car”. The best way to prevent fraud is to deal in cash and/or conduct the actual transaction at the buyer’s bank.
If you have a lien on the car (i.e. the loan isn’t yet paid off) then arrangements must be made with your lender to pay off the loan and release the title to the buyer. Call them and ask what they require to do so.
Lastly, the buyer needs to have auto insurance and tags upon taking delivery of the car. While it is common practice to let the buyer use your license plates until they get theirs, you’re better off taking the tags back and turning them in to your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) yourself as soon as ownership changes hands.
One easy way to do this is to go with the buyer to the DMV office after the sale. The other alternative is for the buyer to purchase a temporary trip permit that’s valid for several days. This can be done online and printed out. Check with your state’s DMV for details.
Once sold, be sure to inform your insurance company of the sale, cancel your registration with the DMV, turn in your license plates and cancel any parking permits you may have for that car. You may also need to report the sale to your town or locality for property tax purposes.
In a nutshell that’s how to sell your car privately. Make sure you have your paperwork in order, the car’s maintenance is up-to-date, it’s clean, you have a clear, compelling ad to sell the it, and your price is within the ballpark for similar cars in your area.
Then show the car, close the sale, and report the transaction to the appropriate parties to close out your obligations involving that vehicle.