9 Tips to sell your car privately

Sell your car - image handing over car keys

Introduction

There are a few things to know before selling your car privately. Selling your car is a process that takes time, effort, and some organization. But with these tips, you will be on your way to a successful private sale.

9 tips to sell your car privately

  1. Do your research
    Before putting your car up for sale, take some time to research the fair market value. This can be done by using online resources such as Parkers or Autotrader. This step is important because it will help you determine how much to sell your car for. It’s also helpful in negotiating with prospective buyers.
  2. Gather all the paperwork
    You will need to have certain documentation in order for the sale of your car to be legal. This includes the title of the vehicle (receipt), and V5c registration document (log book). Be sure to have these documents handy so that you can provide them to the buyer when they are ready to purchase the car.
  3. Give your car a thorough cleaning
    A clean and fresh smelling car is a more appealing car! Take some time to wash and vacuum the inside and outside of your vehicle. You may even want to consider getting it valeted before listing it for sale. This extra step will make your car more appealing to potential buyers and could help you get a higher selling price.
  4. Take good photos
    Once you have decided to list your car for sale, pictures are key. People love looking at pictures, so make sure that you take good ones.Be sure to include clear shots of both the interior and exterior of the vehicle as well as any features that you think would be appealing to buyers (e.g., sunroof, heated seats, etc.). Pictures are worth a thousand words and can be very helpful in getting people interested in your car.
  5. Write a good description
    In addition to taking good photos, writing a good description is essential to sell your car privately. When writing the description, be sure to include important information such as make, model, year, mileage, etc. You should also talk about any special features that your car has as well as its overall condition. Beware of writing things like “runs well” as the description forms part of the contract. Should something blow up shortly after you sell it this could be used against you, so stick to the facts.A well-written description will give potential buyers a better idea of what they are looking at and could help you attract more interest in your vehicle.
  6. Choose the right platform
    There are many different websites and platforms that you can use to list your car for sale (e,.g. Facebook Marketplace, AutoTrader, etc. ). Do some research on each one and decide which one would be best for you based on factors such as cost, reach, audience, etc. Once you have chosen a platform, list your car! Make sure to include all relevant information (as we discussed in steps 4 and 5) so that interested buyers can easily find and contact you about purchasing your vehicle.
  7. Screen prospective buyers
    It’s important to screen prospective buyers before setting up a time for them to come to see the car.Exchange a few emails or texts with them first so that you can get an idea of who they are and what their intentions are. If they seem like they might not be serious about purchasing the vehicle or if they seem shady, it’s probably best not to waste your time meeting with them.

    Setting up appointments with multiple people can be time-consuming, so it’s best to only meet with those who seem like they might actually follow through with buying the car.

  8. Negotiate and get paid
    Once you have met with a prospective buyer and they seem interested in purchasing the vehicle, expect them to haggle on the price.

    If they make an offer that is lower than what you were hoping for, don’t be afraid to counter their offer. Remember: knowledge is power! Because you took the time to do your research (step 1), you will know what the fair market value is for your particular vehicle and would have added some headroom for haggling. Use this information as leverage during negotiations.

    Ideally, your buyer would use a Faster Payment bank transfer straight into your account. This is quick, easy, and relatively safe; however, many people will turn up with a bundle of cash. If the amount is significant, never rely on your ability to count and check money for counterfeit. Arrange to meet the buyer at your bank and have the cash paid in through the cashier. They have counting machines and the experience to detect fake notes. If any notes are found to be counterfeit, the bank will withhold them and your buyer will be the one that loses, not you!

  9. Close the deal!
    Congratulations—you did it! If everything goes well, you will successfully sell your vehicle privately and avoid having to pay fees associated with listing it on sites like AutoTrader or Cars.com.

    Now all that’s left to do is finish up the paperwork. But before letting them drive off into the sunset with their new purchase, make sure that they sign over the title transfer form completely and correctly so that there are no issues down the road. And voila —you did it!

    Time to celebrate by going out and buying yourself something nice …with all that extra cash from avoiding dealer fees, of course!

Sell your car - image handing over car keys
sell your car - interesting angle from front right of the car
sell your car - a pair of hands shaking over a deal

A few precautions

Sadly, there are people that will try to scam you but there a few things you can do to protect yourself.

  1. Never agree to meet somewhere to sell your car, make the buyer come to you
  2. Have someone with you to watch what is happening if you become distracted. For example, it’s not uncommon for one person to distract you while another puts oil in the coolant reservoir. They will then point this out and declare that there may be a problem with the engine and try to knock you down on price.
  3. Never allow anyone to photograph any of your documents, particularly the V5c, as they could use that information to clone your car.
  4. Clearly, never allow anyone to go for a test drive without you and always keep the key in sight. If you have two keys, keep that out of sight until it’s time to hand-over the paperwork AFTER being paid.
  5. If you feel intimidated, walk away from the deal. There’s always another buyer.
  6. Do ensure that you provide a receipt, with a duplicate for yourself and both copies signed, dated and TIMED by both of you. This is important because if they drive-off and cause an accident or jump a red light you can show that it was AFTER you sold the car!
  7. Make sure that you include something like “sold as seen and inspected and accepted by” before the signatures. It is not a catch-all but if your advert describes the car honestly it may help later if they buyer claims there to be a problem.

FAQ

Where should I sell my car?

If you want to sell your car privately try using Facebook Marketplace as it has national coverage, allows plenty of photographs and is free of charge.

Should I accept a deposit for my car?

If you are going to accept a deposit you are entering into an agreement. Provide a receipt for the deposit but make it clear that the deposit will be forfeit unless the buyer buys the car by a set time an date. Say 1PM on Friday the 13th (or whatever). Make is so that you still have time to pay the cash balance directly into the bank, as mentioned above.

How much can I sell my car for?

It’s up to you, as it’s your car. That said, if you want to sell your car privately and want to do so reasonably quickly do your research for similar models/age/mileage/condition and take an average of those prices. Remember to add some headroom for haggling.

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