Let’s face it, most of us are pretty rubbish at selling cars. We rarely market our vehicles properly, which leads to underachievement when it comes to price, or the car in question hanging around for ages unsold. Yet getting a successful deal done is easily within reach if you follow our advice…
Start by getting your facts right. Even the most fired-up potential buyers can quickly lose interest if you come over all woolly when it comes to the build date, model designation and the engine fitted to your car. Swot up too on how many previous owners it’s had, when it was last serviced and have a mental list of what’s been done. You’ll need all this info to hand when you come to write your advert anyway… Be warned though, you might just fall in love with it again!
If the price is right
Setting a price can be tricky; go too high and you’ll put people off, go too low and you’ll regret giving it away too cheap. The key here is to do your homework and find out what similar vehicles are going for, and importantly, whether they actually sold (ring the vendor to find out if necessary). Bear in mind, you can’t put the price up during negotiations!
Good, clear, aspirational images can really sell a car – so take your time on this bit. Prepare your car beforehand, clear out the interior and boot, find a good location (preferably not parked on the street outside) and choose a nice, bright day. Get several shots of the front, rear, side, interior, engine and any special features like the alloy wheels. If you get an enquiry, you’ll be asked for more photos – so the more variety the better – a genuine buyer will want to see all possible rust hotspots.
Good, bad and the ugly
Now, write the description. There’s a real art to ‘selling’ your car in words – it’s a case of painting as accurate picture as possible, providing a compelling narrative, saying what’s good, and generally reinforcing the idea that this is the ‘one’ to buy without getting overly flowery. People like honesty, so as well as saying what’s good, don’t be afraid of touching on the things that aren’t so good as well. Don’t over-egg the negatives, but if you win a potential buyer’s trust and empathy, then you are halfway there.
Okay, now just get it out there. Hit the forums, the websites and social media. Tell family, friends, work colleagues and see if you can get it along to a local enthusiast event or show to get it in front of your target audience. There will be a buyer knocking on your door, or calling your phone in no time.
Think about seasonality. Not wanting to state the obvious, but if you are selling a Beetle Cabriolet advertise it in spring not November if you can help it. There are all sorts of theories about when’s the best time to sell a car, but generally, most sales seem to take place between April and July. August isn’t good because lots of people are on holiday. The worst time to sell a car is probably between October and November. Unsurprisingly, there’s often a spike in the lull between Christmas and the new year. New year, new project perhaps?!
By this point, we hope your phone will have metaphorically ‘been ringing off the hook’. Before arranging a viewing, though, make sure you’re ready. Get your car cleaning stuff out, if necessary, arrange for a professional valet or detailing session so your car’s looking at its best, remove all your personal possessions and prepare the paperwork so all the history, ownership documents and garage receipts are in one place. Oh, and if it’s been sitting for a while, charge up the battery and pop some air in the tyres too.
While you don’t want to lose a sale, don’t be tempted to drop too far on price. Especially if you’ve got other people interested. It’s easy to create ill-feeling with a buyer at this stage, so don’t mess people around, be fair, be straight, and if you want more money, be prepared to put the ball back in their court if you think someone else might come in with an offer that’s closer to your original asking price.
You’re almost there, but be careful not to let things go out of shape in the final stages. Don’t let anyone drive your car without seeing their insurance first, don’t let it out of your sight before the funds are safely in your account and complete all the necessary paperwork. As a seller (in the UK) you must send the V5 documents off or record the sale on the DVLA website, but the buyer will be responsible for the tax, and that will automatically cancel your monthly payments.
When the money’s in, pop open the bubbly and get cracking on your quest to find an exciting replacement!