So you’ve decided to sell your car privately. We know that in this day and age you have to be careful during the selling process. Be careful about the value you are getting and be careful about your personal safety. We’ve put together a of list of ten things you should do and be aware of to help make your sale go more smoothly.
#1 Set a Realistic Selling Price
You may love your vehicle and think it’s the greatest thing ever but don’t over price it. There are various resources available to help you determine a fair price. Auto Trader, the Kelley Blue Book, and classified ads in your area are all good places to check out.
#2 Prepare Your Paperwork
Be proactive. Make sure you have the title, registration, maintenance records, bill of sale, insurance, liability release, and warranty documents all readily available. Don’t wait until a buyer is ready to buy to begin collecting this information.
#3 Prepare the Vehicle
Clean the vehicle interior and exterior, including the tires. To make it even more presentable and to give a favorable impression, wash and wax the exterior, replace floor mats, check the wipers, vacuum the interior, wash the windows, and add an air freshener. What smells nice, sells nice!
#4 Take Good Photos
Your photos should include the front and rear ends, both sides of the vehicle, the engine compartment, the dashboard, seats, carpets, trunk interior, and wheels. The more pictures you provide shows you have nothing to hide!
There are different ways to advertise your sale, ranging from on-line, print media, to placing a sign in the vehicle window. If you place a “For Sale” sign in the vehicle, consider using the license plate number as the point of contact instead of displaying your personal phone number in public. Download the free Windshieldink app, register your license plate and any person can contact you about your vehicle using the Windshieldink app and the license plate.
For your convenience, we’ve provided free Windshieldink “For Sale By Owner” sign templates. Click on an image below to download and print.
Your adverts should include the asking price (firm or best offer), mileage and condition of the vehicle. List any modifications made, recent repairs or overhauls, and VIN number. The VIN number allows anyone to run a background check on the vehicle (read our blog about what the VIN can tell you).
#6 Screen Potential Buyers Very Carefully
Once you advertise, get ready to deal with the public. Only schedule test drives with serious buyers. Be aware of potential fraud. Before you commit to a sale, get the buyer’s full name, phone number, their location, and determine if their payment method is acceptable to you. Ask questions related to their needs, whether they have financing, and see if they have questions (as most serious buyers will). Be wary of anyone who offers to buy your vehicle sight unseen.
#7 The Test Drive
For your own protection, ensure your insurance coverage extends to other drivers and that the potential test driver carries a valid driver licence. Be cautious on the test drive. Choose a public place to meet that is safe and use a simple test drive route, preferably during daylight hours. The test-drive route should be short and near a populated area. If possible, avoid rural routes.
If the buyer wants a longer test drive, let them request it. Always plan ahead and don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to join you for the ride. At the very least make sure family members know that you are going out for a test drive and with whom. Read about a recent online vehicle sale incident in Regina, Saskatchewan.
#8 Make Your Sales Pitch
The best time to make your sales pitch is during the test drive. Ask questions about their current vehicle and what they are looking for. You should describe your vehicle’s reliability, fuel mileage, availability of replacement parts, where your maintenance work has been done, and talk about your own driving habits.
#9 Negotiating the Final Price
To start the negotiation process, solicit a price that’s higher than what you’re willing to accept. Decide ahead what your lowest acceptable price will be. Refuse any unusual requests, such as driving to another location, even if it’s related to arranging the money transfer. The buyer can do that on their own time or they can leave a non-refundable deposit if necessary. Make the sale outside or away from your home.
#10 Sell the Vehicle
Once the sale is agreed upon, the paperwork and payment method need to be finalized. If you accept a cheque, go with the buyer to his or her bank to receive your money. Beware of fraudulent or fake escrow services and protect yourself with secured payment. Once payment is received, you’ll need to complete the bill of sale, sign over the title, provide warranty documents, and all other necessary legal documents (Release of Liability).
The seller generally signs the back of the title with the date, sale price, and exact odometer reading. Make a copy or take a cell phone photograph of the signed title (both sides) for your records. The odometer reading provides proof of the moment in time the vehicle is no longer legally yours so don’t round it up, use the exact mileage. Make sure your personal information is made illegible on all documents you hand over and last but not least, hand over the keys! Remember to cancel your vehicle insurance once the sale is closed. In many places, you are required to return the license plates and cancel the registration of the vehicle in your name.
Now you can breathe a sigh of relief! Selling your vehicle yourself can be a nerve wracking exercise but many such transactions are completed every day and most proceed well. However, you still need to be careful, smart, and do your homework.
We’re interested in hearing from you. Send your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.