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This past month I stocked up on greasy hair gel, white strips for my teeth, and ironed my only suit. It was time to sell my used car! I had gone through the process before, but I was extremely lucky. This time around, I had to develop a plan and discipline myself to stick with it!
My Previous Experience: I truly was spoiled by selling my last car 4 years ago. I had a message on my phone within 30 minutes of listing it and I shook hands in a deal within 2 hours that was above my sale price goal! This time around, it wasn’t so easy.
I wanted to utilize free avenues of advertisement first, and resort to other means if I wasn’t successful. My goal was to sell the car within 30 days for a price that was near Kelly Blue Book value private party sale value. My last resort was to trade in the car at a local dealer.
- Purchased a CarFax report (purchased a one-month unlimited subscription for $69.00 while I was in the process of buying a used car)
- Familiarized myself with the Kelly Blue Book value for my vehicle. I saved the link so I could share it with interested parties.
- Cleaned the car for pictures.
Week 1: List for sale on Craigslist for $7750. This was a free post where I was able to post 15 pictures.
Week 2: List for sale on Cars.com for $7500 (changed Craigslist ad). The site offers a free post for 30 days, but with only 5 pictures. One nice feature of cars.com is that you can see how many ‘hits’ your ad is producing.
Week 3: Listed car in local newspaper for $7250. I chose a 3 day package (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) for $60.
Week 4: Lower price to $7000.
Week 5: Consider trading in or lowering price further.
Things I Learned
- Time is money…as the process dragged into the third and fourth weeks, the hassle of managing the advertisements and an extra car taking up garage space, I was much more tempted to take offers like the one I got for $6600 in the third week.
- Scam alert…you know what’s worse than a sneaky car salesman? Online scammers. In the second week, I got a text from a mystery number that claimed a military serviceman wanted to buy my car immediately for the listed price. For a few hours, I thought I had sold a car. After doing some digging, I found out this is a popular scam to pilfer money through phony paypal accounts. If you’re listing anything for sale (especially for free), you open yourself up by listing your phone number and e-mail, even if you select the option to not be contacted by unsolicited services.
- CarFax and KBB are your friend (and enemy)…these estimated values can save you or doom you. I appreciated that these values gave me a number to point to as a fair deal when interested parties were negotiating. I was fortunate to have a clean title and no major service records on the CarFax. However, if the CarFax has any red flags, you usually have some explaining to do every time a person inquires.
My first car took 30 minutes to sell. This car took over 30 days to sell! During this time, I met 2 people to test drive the car but offer below $6,000. I also had 2 people say they “fell in love with the car” over e-mail. I guess they fell out of love quickly because they didn’t respond to my messages.
At long last, 6 weeks later, I entertained a person’s offer who consistently checked in with me but never went above $6000. It was humbling to sell for significantly lower than my goal, but the peace of mind of getting rid of the car helped ease the pain.
What have you done to sell your car effectively and efficiently? Should I have just bought more hair gel?