How To Sell a Car From Home

Selling your car from home can be very rewarding. By doing so, you save money that might otherwise be given as payment to a commission car lot. It usually takes a little more work than if you simply offered your car as a trade-in, but your be rewards will be a little more cash in your bank account.

  1. Get an accurate appraisal. Check around on websites such as Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and NADAguides to determine an approximate value for your car. Some of these sites don't provide a private party value, so it's usually good to estimate a good selling price by averaging the trade-in price with the dealer price. Make necessary deductions for imperfections that auto guides cannot predict. Adjust the price if the tires are badly worn or if there are stains on the upholstery. Generally, you should deduct about half of the price of new tires if your car's tires are more than half worn. If your car has stains on the upholstery, you may want to deduct the price of getting the interior professionally cleaned. When determining a final asking price, expect that a buyer will want negotiate the price a little bit; include a little "breathing room" so you can offer a concession to your buyer without selling your car for much less than anticipated.
  2. Get ready to show. Get your car in showroom condition. A clean car demonstrates that the car has been properly maintained and loved. Nobody wants to buy something they think has been abused by the previous user. Be especially sure to clean under floor mats, in glove boxes, and in the trunk. To get the best price, the car must be running and all vital equipment has to work.
  3. Advertise your car. There are several ways to advertise your car. You can advertise in your local classified ads. In most places, this means placing an ad in your city newspaper, but you can often find other ways to advertise; consider local classified papers that exclusively feature classified ads. You can also use online services such as Ebay, car specific sites such as Autotrader, or the free online services like Postaroo or Craigslist.

    It's important that you list a phone number in your ad so interested people can call to ask questions. Generally, they will want to know about the tire quality, damage history, whether the car smokes or burns oil, and if it has any leaks. Rather than meeting at your home, some sellers prefer to meet the buyer in a neutral location such as a gas station or grocery store parking lot.

    Always include a price in the ad. If you're willing to accept offers on the car, include "OBO" (Or Best Offer) in the ad. If you are not willing to haggle over the final price, indicate that the asking price is "firm."

  4. Make the sale. Now that you've attracted a potential buyer, you need to be on your best behavior. Park the car in the driveway or in front of your house. Expect your buyer to examine the vehicle a little before he comes to your door. Make yourself available to answer any questions, but be careful not to interrupt them as you will appear bothersome or pushy. If your buyer has a license, offer the keys for a test drive.

    Keep detailed maintenance records while you own a car so that you can demonstrate how you have cared for the vehicle. Buyers want to see regular oil changes and other routine maintenance. Receipts and service invoices can prove that you've been a good owner.

    Don't under any circumstances attempt to misrepresent the condition of the car. If it's a rolling rust bucket, don't pretend that you're selling a perfect machine. Tell the truth. Disclose all known issues with the brakes and safety systems.

    Some buyers want warranties for the car they are buying. Most private party sales, however, do not include any type of warranty. Do not make guarantees about the reliability of the car unless you are willing to pay for repair when it breaks. If your buyer is concerned about this, feel free to show the maintenance records as a demonstration of the car's history.

  5. Sold! Once you have negotiated an agreeable price, it's time to accept payment for the car. It's usually best to insist that the buyer pay with cash or a guaranteed check such as a cashier's check. Get the paperwork right: each state varies slightly, so check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to determine what documents are required when you sell your car to another person. Generally, this consists of a state-issued bill of sale and title transfer.


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These are really good tips. I now feel more confident to sell my car.

By Mary Norton