Marketing Your Used Car For Sale By Owner

by Don Elliott on May 18, 2011

Selling your own car is not for everyone. Unless you are extremely lucky, it will be necessary to talk to many potential buyers before you find the one that is right for your used car. You will be competing with car dealers, wholesalers, auto auction sales, and other private sellers to attract potential buyers. The task can be intimidating.

Fortunately, the Internet has made the job of marketing your car a bit easier. A quick scan of sites offering cars for sale will give you an idea of the kind of information that you will need for your advertising.

Deciding on a used car price is the first step. Assuming that you can get the asking price for similar cars offered by car dealers is a mistake. Car dealers negotiate their prices and have considerably more to offer to a potential buyer than a private seller; financing, warranties, automotive repair, trade-ins and experience to name a few. Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book are good places to check for “trade-in value”, or the amount that your car might be worth if you sold it wholesale to a car dealer. You should be able to get a little more than trade-in and less than the suggested retail price if you sell it on your own successfully.

Clean up your car and take pictures. Lots of them! Stage your car so that it shows in a favorable way. Avoid showing your house, mailbox, license plate number or other cars in the background. Unscrupulous buyers don’t need to know about anything more than facts about your car.

Speaking of facts, buy a vehicle history report for your car. Even if your car has a questionable past, buyers will trust the third party summary more than anything that you can tell them about your used car.

Next, decode your vehicle Identification number (VIN) to make sure that you have the year, make, model, and engine correct. I particularly like the way Pronto VIN Decoder presents the information.

There is lots of controversy over whether or not to put a “For Sale” sign in your car. I do not have a problem with it. I recommend making a flyer with all the facts about the car including mileage and a cell phone number, not your home phone number. I also recommend including the price. Your car is its best advertisement. Put it to work.

Now that you have done your homework and have your car cleaned up, it is time to advertise.

Offering the best possible used car value to the potential buyer is the goal. Send us a comment if this information helped you get there.

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