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Strategy Pays Off: What You Need To Know When Selling Your Own Car

There are so many standard rules for buying a car, like shopping late in the year for the best prices or walking out if negotiations stall. But people selling their own cars need a plan, too. The “clean it and list it” approach is just the start for those who want to sell quickly for the highest price.

For 10 fresh ideas for increasing profits and reducing the hassle of selling your own car, read on.

First, Find The Paperwork

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Sifting through household files and paper stacks to find everything necessary for a transfer of ownership is no one’s idea of fun. Grin and bear it, though, because the sale won’t go through without certain papers and interested buyers won’t always wait.

The title is the most important, so figure out where it is first. Other “must-have” documents include warranty information, the bill of sale and maintenance records. Get this out of the way to focus on the entertaining parts of selling your car, like bargaining and having that direct deposit light up the old checking account.

Make Sure Potential Buyers Are Serious, Not Scammers

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Whether it’s a light-hearted prank or an all-out scam, some car buyers are not on the level. Anyone selling a car needs to narrow the list of buyers to those who are legitimate. A good first test is asking the responder’s full name. Also, get a consensus on the acceptable forms of payment and have the person acknowledge that paying in monthly installments is not an option.

There’s no need to point out that a seller couldn’t collect or repossess if a buyer later stops monthly payments, but a potential buyer pushing for that arrangement is a red flag.

Make It More Than Kind Of Clean

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A few bucks to do an extra thorough cleaning job can improve a seller’s asking price by several hundred dollars.

After the typical vacuum and window wash, remove all traces of the current owner using a straight-edge razor to scrape up any bits of gunk. Employ Goo-Gone to remove decals and wipe the cup holders and armrests (front and back) with a shop towel dampened with a mix of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water.

And then turn to the next bit of advice, which will help you use a tried-and-true buyer’s strategy to your advantage.

Sell On The Weekend When Customers Crave Attention

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Smart consumers who wish to purchase a new car shop Monday through Wednesday. This assures they get the best prices and have fewer fellow shoppers competing for the best deals.

A seller can take advantage of this mentality by posting ads, showing the vehicle and conducting the test drive on the weekend. Dealerships are at their busiest then, so a savvy seller can scoop up buyers looking for extra attention while there’s a wait at the dealership.

This is the best time to negotiate with buyers, too, since it’s more difficult for them to get counter-offers from a dealer.