4 Tips on How To Effectively Sell A Car On Craigslist

4 Tips on How To Effectively Sell A Car On Craigslist

There are many options for selling a car privately. Craigslist has been proven to be a competent, easy and quick convenient platform on which to sell. Anyone can sell anything on Craigslist, nevertheless when it comes to cars there are guidelines that help streamline the process.

Here’s how to sell a car on craigslist:

  • Get your paperwork in order. That means title, service records, registration, bill of sale, and anything else significant like a warranty if applicable.
  • Take good photos of the car. In good lighting, around mid-day, take photos of the exterior and detailed photos of interior. Highlight anything nice about the car, and if it has defects capture those as well. Also helps describe them in the ad, and why they happened.
  • Find out the car’s value. Go to KBB or Edmunds to find out your car’s market value. Be sure to click on the private party value to get a good idea of what your car goes for on the market. Also go and see how much similar cars are going for on Craigslist. They may be going for more, in which case you can up your selling price a bit.
  • Time to post. Go to craigslist and post in the appropriate location, either where the car is or a place that you can comfortably drive the car to.

If your car has a lien, you can still sell it privately even on Craigslist. The only thing that needs to happen differently is you’re going to need to communicate with your lender. If the buyer also has a loan it makes the process that much easier, because then both lenders can talk to each other and transfer the paperwork with minimal effort. It also helps to make the transfer in close proximity to your lender so you can help streamline the process by talking to them directly.

Depending on the state you live in, paperwork may vary. For instance Texas requires a title, and a separate application for a new title. Texas also requires an inspection. Legally speaking the only paperwork you’re responsible for is a smog check, if it’s even needed. California’s DMV states that the seller is legally obligated to provide a valid smog certificate, showing that the car has successfully passed smog. Beyond that, you are not responsible for any other fees or taxes.

It is required in California that you inform the DMV of selling your vehicle within 5 days of the sale. This is not only for their records, but for your benefit. If you don’t inform the DMV and the new owner gets a parking ticket you’ll be technically responsible. Likewise for insurance, as soon as you sell your car you should cancel your insurance on it. You don’t want to be legally obligated for the damages it may or may not take. And this can be done any time.

Typically buyers want to see that you’ve taken care of the car, and most of all they want to know they aren’t getting a lemon car. The best way to show this is to keep all your service records and present them to prospective buyers. They want transparency, and you need to deliver so they feel comfortable with the purchase. Getting everything fixed that’s wrong isn’t completely necessary, but if you want to get the most money for your car then replacing things like bad tires and brakes, repairing headlights that don’t work or small dents then it certainly won’t hurt. Keep in mind this will only help the selling process go faster and won’t necessarily make your car worth more money. If you say in your ad that you’ve replaced the tires and brakes, the new owner could respond with, “Well, yeah you’re supposed to”, or something of that nature. If it’s something detrimental, like an engine replacement, all you’ve done is get the car from not running to running condition again, and that just brings the car up to its market value, so don’t think you’ll get stellar numbers just for replacing the engine. Certainly get the car washed, and keep it nice always. Buyers want to see you’ve taken good care of your car. Likewise tell the new buyer about everything you’ve done to keep it nice. It won’t get more money, but again it will help the sale move along.

Bear in mind that the buyer will always try to offer you less money than you asked for. That’s normal, and you should expect it. The best way to counter this is with service records, a clean car and a solid case. Don’t be so rigid as to drive away buyers, but be somewhat flexible with your price. It’ll help psychologically if you have a set range in mind. It helps to get more attention if you indicate in your ad that the price is “best offer”, because it means the buyers can negotiate with you which gets more interest.

Be safe, because selling on craigslist can be dangerous. You don’t know who’s coming to buy the car, and if it’s at your house you don’t want them to see where you live so it’s best to avoid this situation if possible. If not, have a friend present to witness the interaction. If possible meet the buyer in a public place in the middle of the day, or when there’s a lot of people around.

Don’t forget you have every right to walk away from a transaction for any reason. If something doesn’t feel right, or if the money isn’t good enough (i.e. far below asking price), then just say no and wait for the next buyer. Remember that selling a car privately generally takes about 3-4 months, so be patient and things will happen in the right time.

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