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Yesterday I talked about the old ways of selling your car on your own. While occasionally effective they don’t provide the best bang for your buck. With the advent of the internet there are many ways you can tap this ever growing population to not only list your car for sale but make sure it is directed towards the people most likely to want to buy it. While listing your car in the local paper classifieds is appealing your target audience, internet classifieds increase that audience 10 fold. Today we are going to take a look at how I actually went about selling my car.

The New Way

Did you know millions of people are on the internet all the time? THEY ARE. So why not sell your car on the internet. The best place to do that is on Craigslist, mainly because it is free and widely used. Craigslist isn’t just a place to find crackpots and scam artists, you can actually sell stuff on it. Really you can sell anything you want, of course I don’t have any experience with that, just selling a car so that is what I am going to focus on here. The key to selling your car quickly is to be as descriptive as possible so the potential buyer doesn’t have to do a lot of guessing. Below is my actual listing, minus some personal details (click to enlarge).

Probably the most important thing is to be honest, if you know something is wrong with the car state it up front. Don’t paint a picture of a perfectly sound car then spring the issues on them during the test drive. You will just piss them off.  My car sold within three days of placing my ad here are my suggestions on what to make sure you include to get your car sold fast.

  1. A Good title, include vehicle make, year, model, mileage, and one or two key features
  2. Be upfront about issues
  3. List out all of the features your car has
  4. Pictures, lots of pictures
  5. Be descriptive in your wording, lets face it talk sells
  6. Include your phone number, just because they are on the internet doesn’t mean they don’t want to deal with a real person
  7. Pictures, really pictures

I said pictures twice for a reason, people want to see what they are getting before they actually make a decision. Craigslist allows you to upload picture but they make them tiny and limit how many you can have. If you are a little web savvy you can actually host your own photos and just include them in the ad as <img> tags. I did it that way so the pictures were much bigger than the Craigslist Standard.

Once you have your ad make sure you are responsive to people who call about the car, I put one call off for 30 minutes and the lady had already bought another call. The guy who bought my car didn’t leave a message, I called the number back to see what he needed.

Make sure you wash your car, inside and out, before you bring it for a test drive. People don’t want to see your 3 month old McDonald’s wrapper in the car, they want to see you took care of your ride. It is best to clean your car the day before you list it otherwise you will be rushed to get it done in a hurry, like I was. It is really best to make sure you take pictures of your car while it is clean. As you can see from the photo in that ad I had a lot of brake dust on the wheels.

Be prepared to negotiate, have a price in mind you are willing to accept and stick to it. If you are asking $7 but know you will take $6 don’t balk at it when someone offers you $6, negotiate but don’t throw in the towel. I sold my car in 3 days for $2k more than I would have got a dealership. I only had to take it for two test drives. That is the last thing I will leave you with. If someone wants you to bring the car to them do it but do it someplace neutral. I met at a park and at a college campus, both heavily populated. Don’t risk your life but be accommodating, you are the one trying to make the sale.

Have you ever sold a car on Craigslist? How did it go?

photo: (hugo90)

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Let’s face it, you aren’t going to get squat for your car at the dealership so the only way you can maximize your profit is to sell it yourself.  When I was getting ready to buy my wife’s new car we talked to the dealership and they were thinking $3,500 or less, we talked to CarMax and they were willing to put up $4k. Kelley Blue Book value for the car, private party, was $7k in excellent shape. That is a pretty damn big disparity between what the dealerships would give me and what I should be able to get. I decided to say screw the dealerships and sell my car myself.

Don’t make any mistakes, it isn’t a cake walk to sell it on your own, but then again when was last time three grand fell in your lap while you were lazing around doing nothing. While it does take some work it is actually pretty easy to unload that old car in a pretty short amount of time. If you are asking yourself how you to can master the art of being a car salesman, you are in luck but first lets look at how you shouldn’t do it and tomorrow we will look at how you should go about selling your car.

The Old Way

Way back in the day, ok maybe not all that long ago, people who wanted to sell a car on their own had to rely on some pretty in effective methods for selling their cars. One method involves creating a sign you put in the window, or write on the window, advertising your vehicle is for sale. This sounds like a good idea but you are really just hoping that someone in a car passing you on the Interstate is in the market for a car. The likelihood is pretty low that you are going to find that killer buyer randomly driving down the road you are driving on. In method that is the same but different people put signs in the car window then park it near a busy street. This way you are increasing views as well as ensuring someone could stop and actually write down the number to call. The problem here is you are still relying on your buyer just happening on your car, odds are they aren’t out cruising up and down the road looking for a car to buy.

These first two methods are like walking into a crowded room of random people and asking each one of them if they want to buy a car. Odds are you going to go through a whole lot of people before you find one who says they are interested in a car. Even when you find that one person they may want a minivan when you are selling an SUV. You get a lot of looks but interested parties are hard to come by.

The most effective of the “old ways” was to list your car for sale in the classifieds section of your local newspaper. This method works because you are putting your vehicle in a listing where people who want a car will be looking. The problem is words can only be so descriptive. If you say great condition I don’t know it is without coming to see it. If you say it is a red convertible, is it candy apple red, blood red, brick red, or pinkish red? I can’t tell from the words in the ad. In addition to the lack of visual sales appeal a lot of papers charge for your ad to run, that cuts into your profits.

I am not trying to say you shouldn’t do these things.  I immediately put a sign in my cars window when I was selling my car. It didn’t hurt anything and you never know when you might drive by that car thirsty teenager with a wad of cash. If you don’t need to drive your car around by all means park it in an place where you can advertise it’s availability. Just don’t rely on it as your sole method of selling the car, there are such better ways, but more on that tomorrow.

Have you ever successfully sold a vehicle using one of these traditional tactics? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Usually I see bloggers posting questions from their readers about what they should do in certain situations. No one asks me any questions so I thought I would lay my own dilemma out there for you. My wife and I own two cars both of the are paid in full. I love the fact that I have the title to both of these cars and aside from fuel and maintenance they don’t cost me anything. I know a lot of people who wish they didn’t have a car payment and let me tell you I love the hell out of it.

Recently my wife has decided it is time for her to pick up a new car, the old one is just old to her now. Not only does she want a new car but she wants a 2007 or newer Black Chevy Tahoe. I don’t know if you have ever priced out a Tahoe before but a 2007 with decent miles costs at least $10k more than we paid for either one of the cars we own now. I attempted to explain how ludicrous it is to even consider such a thing as buying a new car, “why the hell do you want a new car the one you have is fine, I won’t have it PERIOD.

For those of you married men out there, telling your wife she can’t do something is the equivalent of punching them in the face with a brick in your hand, they don’t like it. I still haven’t completed recovered from this little misstep although she did soften her resolve for a few months. We had discussed the option of a car swap, where I take her car and she takes mine. That way the cars are new, to us anyway. To me this was the best solution to the problem and one I embraced wholly. The only things I need to take care of are some new tires and window tint which I have been dragging on but plan to take care of soon.

Thinking that was the end of it I forgot about the dilemma entirely, until recently. I have caught my wife once again perusing the ranks of CarMax in search of the perfect used Tahoe with the occasional “Oh, look at this one Kyle it is only $36k.” Which usually results in me coughing and choking on my beer.

The way I see it is that I am failing to adequately support my desire for not wanting another car payment, these are the facts I think lean most  towards us not purchasing, with a loan, a new car:

  1. Both Cars are in good working condition
  2. Out of the two of us working I am the only one contributing to a retirement account
  3. With two children we are saving $0 per month for higher education
  4. Student loan has not been paid off
  5. Second mortgage has not been paid off

My wife really wants a new car, and I don’t want her to be unhappy I just don’t think it is the best thing for us financially right now. The fact that this hasn’t been worked out yet is probably 90% my fault for failing to communicate adequately.  What would you do in this situation? What should I do?

No bashing my old lady, she is entitled to her wants just like anyone else, help us out an weigh in on the problem.

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Cash for Clunkers Explained

June 24, 2009

The Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program, more commonly known as the Cash For Clunkers Bill, has been getting a lot of press lately so I thought I would give it a look and see what it is all about. Luckily this is the shortest bit of legislation I have read in a while […]

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Suburban Genie: My Three Financial Do-Overs

May 27, 2009

All of the credit for this post should go to Adam over at Your Money Relationship for coming up with this Money Genie post idea. Basically the idea boils down to what three things about your financial past would you change given the chance.  While I certainly wish there were a Robin Williams esque Genie […]

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