Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

How to Sell Your Car Privately

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Aug 24, 2017 3:18 PM

Selling your car privately has its pros and cons. You save on the fees or commission charged when you contact a dealer to sell it for you. You can also negotiate for a higher price if you a good salesperson. However, you encounter all sorts of people whenever you advertise a car. Your phone will always be ringing with people who claim to be interested in buying your car. You will come across 'buyers' with fake checks and bank accounts.  How can you sell your used car privately without falling into the wrong hands? Here are some essential tips to guide you through the process.

  1. Get all the necessary records

The first question that every serious buyer will ask is about the service records. Gather all the service and maintenance records especially for the past year. You should have the title, insurance, and registration documents as well. The records show that you are trustworthy and have been taking good care of the car. Be willing to show the service records to serious buyers if you want to sell the car fast.

  1. Prepare the car sale

Informed car buyers do a thorough inspection before closing a deal. A thorough clean up and servicing is necessary before you take pictures of the car. Ask your mechanic to inspect the car and replace any broken or missing parts. The clean up should include removing all your personal items from the car. You can spray the car after the wash but most buyers know that they are buying a used car. They do not expect the car to look new.

  1. Advertise the car

A simple advertisement on your social media pages may be all you need to get an interested and genuine buyer. However, selling through established market places like Craigslist or finding sites that offer local used car search exposes you to a wider market. Give clear specifications of the car and your contact information, which takes us to another important tip.

  1. Get a temporary phone number

If you put up your car for sale on a popular online market, you will get multiple calls every day from interested buyers and fraudsters. The calls may continue even after you sell the vehicle. The best option is to apply for a temporary phone number where your buyers can reach you. You can close it down once you finalize the deal. You can also turn it off at night to minimize the noise.

  1. Meet buyers in public places

Many car sellers make a mistake of allowing strangers to view the car on sale from their backyard. You are opening your home to thieves by allowing them into your compound. Always drive the car to a public place and do all the negotiations from there. Be careful about buyers who ask to view the car at odd hours. You minimize the chances of losing your car to fraudsters if you meet them in open public places. For all meetings with buyers, choose well-recorded public places.

  1. Verify the buyer's driving license

The process of verifying a driver's license is different in every state. You can check it online or via a phone call depending on the regulations in your state. Before you allow the potential buyer to test drive the car, verify that they have a legitimate driver's license. Sometimes it is advisable to ask a serious buyer for a utility bill in case you need to trace them after the sale.

  1. Be careful with the test drive

Bring someone along when negotiating with buyers and for the test drive as well. Do not allow the buyer to take the test alone or on unfamiliar routes. You may lose your car or drive into a trap. Stick to a familiar neighbor and route for all the tests. Choose the places where you meet the buyers so that you can control the direction of the test drive.

  1. Maintain possession until you receive payment

Once you determine that a buyer is committed to buying your car, process the paperwork carefully. Be careful with the means of payment. You can receive cash or a certified check from the buyer. Cash the check immediately before signing the paperwork. Moneygram is also a safe means of payment. Avoid any buyers who offer online payment methods. Some frauds open such accounts to hide their real identities and conduct illegal transactions.

The final step after the money is in your account is to transfer ownership by signing the necessary documents. Inform the buyer of the requirements of the paperwork. For instance, show the buyer the places to sign on the title and ensure that the buyer's official name appears on the document. The title should be the last document that the buyer signs to finalize the deal.


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