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How to Sell a Car Privately: 5 Simple Steps To Take

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When selling a car, many people choose to go the private route. However, you’ll require more effort and involvement if you decide to sell your car privately.

If you’re wondering how to sell a car privately, we’ll provide tips and guidance in this article.

We’ll delve into the valuation process, paperwork, how to screen buyers, and where you can advertise and find buyers.

Why You Should Consider Selling a Car Privately

Despite the hassle, there are plenty of advantages to selling your car privately, including:

  • Making more money: Selling a car privately gets you more profit than you would if you sell it to a company or a dealership.
  • Having more control: You’re more in control of the pricing, which is better because you know the ins and outs of your vehicle better than appraisers or dealerships.
  • Selling classic cars is easier: You can find classic car buyers more easily since dealerships may not be interested in such vehicles.
  • Higher chance of successfully selling modified cars: If you go private, you can come across many buyers that are interested in modifications that you may have done to your car.

Problems With Selling a Car Privately

Selling a car privately has a lot of advantages, but it also entails some problems, including:

  • Tedious process: You’ll have to go through time-consuming processes like preparing paperwork, estimating the car’s value and pricing it, advertising it, screening buyers, negotiating, and securing the payment.
  • Dealing with finances: You have to clear any remaining balance with finance companies as you can’t sell the car privately with outstanding payments or if the vehicle has a loan.
  • Post-selling legal matters: You have to deal with post-purchase troubles if the buyer faces an issue with the car.

What You’ll Need to Sell a Car Privately

During the initial steps, you’ll need some things ready, so make sure you have a checklist.

  • Vehicle history: A report of the motor vehicle’s history provides buyers with information about a used car, which influences their decision to buy.
  • Odometer disclosure: This disclosure states the mileage on your car before transferring its ownership.
  • Title transfer: The vehicle title is the most critical document that you’ll need to sell a car privately. Generally, it involves signing the title over to the buyer and submitting it to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or a similar agency.
  • Release of liability: This document protects you from any legal or financial responsibility after the sale as it informs the DMV that you’re no longer the owner of the vehicle. However, it’s not a substitute for a bill of sale.
  • Other paperwork: You may need vehicle registration, maintenance records, and other warranties or service contracts. Check with your local DMV or similar agency to see if there are any additional requirements in your state.

Where to Sell a Car Privately?

If you’re looking to sell your car and you’re looking to do so quickly, here are some places you can opt for.

1. Autotrader

A screenshot of the auto trader homepage

Autotrader is among the most popular websites where you can list your car. The website is popular in the U.K., too, and it has established its name globally.

  • Fees/Commission: Autotrader charges a $49 fee to list a car, allowing up to 30 photos.
  • Payment Methods: You can opt for a wire transfer if you don’t mind sharing your bank details with the buyer. Alternatively, you may use cash or Escrow.com if you’re looking for multiple digital payment options.

2.eBay Motors

A screenshot of the ebay motors homepage

eBay is one of the most popular places to sell your used items, no matter what they are. The specific section dedicated to vehicles called “eBay Motors” makes it an even better candidate.

  • Fees/Commission: There are three packages: The basic ($19), plus ($49), and premium ($79). There’s also a 2.8% processing fee which is calculated from the deposit paid by the prospective buyer.
  • Payment Methods: There’s a possibility to pay through Escrow.com so you can use a credit card, PayPal, or bank transfer. Note that Escrow charges 0.89-3.25% of the vehicle purchase price as a fee for the transaction.

3.Facebook Marketplace

A screensot of the facebook_marketplace homepage

Facebook Marketplace is a good place to start as it allows you to reach huge numbers of people. Instead of being limited to a local target audience, you can reach people in other states.

  • Fees/Commission: Facebook’s marketplace doesn’t charge any fees or commissions to list an item.
  • Payment Methods: You can agree on the payment method with the potential buyer, including wire transfers, checks, PayPal, Venmo, etc.

4. Amazon

A screenshot of the amazon homepage

If you’re thinking about selling the car for parts, Amazon can be a suitable option. You might even look into pawning when you know that things to pawn include cars.

  • Fees/Commission: There’s an individual plan that costs $0.99 for each unit you sell and a professional plan that has a $39.99 subscription, no matter how many units you sell. The plans vary depending on the kind of shipment you choose (Self-fulfillment or FBA).
  • Payment Methods: Any funds you earn are automatically deposited to your connected bank.

How to Sell a Car Privately: Step-By-Step Instructions

Selling a car privately requires a lot of involvement on your end. To save you the hassle of trial and error, here’s a step-by-step guide to going through the process.

1. Determining Your Car’s Value

Establishing your car’s value helps you set a fair price for your vehicle and attract the right potential buyers.

There are various ways that you can do it, including:

  • Using online car valuation tools such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, or NADAGuides
  • Checking local classified ads or online marketplaces to see the value of similar cars in your area
  • Getting an appraisal from a professional mechanic or appraiser

The value of your car may vary depending on its condition, mileage, and other features or upgrades.

Once you know your car’s value, you can use this information to set a reasonable selling price.

Taking the time during this phase to set a fair price helps you make the following process of selling a car as smooth as possible and increases the chances of success.

2. Set a Selling Price

After determining the value of your car, it’s time to set a reasonable selling price. Here are some tips that help you set the right price:

Consider the Car’s Condition

The condition of your car has a significant impact on its value.

That’s why you should consider any repairs or maintenance that you—or the potential buyer—may need to conduct and factor that into your asking price.

Set a Realistic Price

While maximizing the price is tempting, it’s important to be realistic about what your car is worth.

If you overprice your car, it’ll make your car harder to sell and deter potential buyers. If you go with that strategy, you’ll need to have some time to spare and you might end up lowering the price after all.

Be Flexible

It’s a good idea to leave some room for negotiation when setting a selling price.

 Buyers will often try to haggle, so you should be ready to adjust your price if it’s necessary or if the buyer makes a convincing argument about the car’s condition.

3. Advertising Your Car for Sale

When advertising your car for sale, include the make, model, year, and any relevant features or upgrades.

Providing clear and detailed photos of your vehicle can also help attract potential buyers and give them a better idea of its condition.

You can use the power of social media to your advantage. Post about your car on personal or community pages to spread the word to other potential buyers.

Double-check that you’ve included all the relevant information. Make sure to provide means by which they can reach you (email, phone number, etc.)

4. Screening Potential Buyers

When you’re selling a car privately, you’ll have to screen potential buyers. This process influences how smooth your transaction will be, especially when avoiding scams.

Here are a couple of points to keep in mind about screening buyers:

  • Ask for identification, including a valid driver’s license and proof of car insurance before allowing them to test drive the car.
  • Pay attention to how the potential buyer communicates with you. If they’re impatient or pushy, it’s not a good sign.
  • If something seems off about your potential buyer, trust your instinct and don’t continue the sale process.

It’s a good idea to set up a safe meeting place when you’re ready to meet potential buyers. Consider places like parking lots or shopping centers and go during daylight hours.

Moreover, you can ask someone to accompany you, such as a friend or a family member.

Avoid meeting potential buyers at your home or in secluded areas.

5. Payment Methods

The final step in selling your car privately is determining the payment method. Cash is a common and safe form of payment for both the car buyer and the seller.

However, it’s understandable that it’s not always convenient or feasible to carry large amounts of cash.

In that case, there are a couple of other options, including:

Cashier’s Check

A cashier’s check is a check that’s issued by a bank and guaranteed to be legitimate. It’s a safer option than a personal check because the funds are verified by the bank.

However, it’s vital to verify the authenticity of the cashier’s check before accepting it as payment.

Online Payment Service

Online payment services like PayPal or Venmo are good options. These services allow for secure and convenient transactions, but they charge a fee for their service.

If it’s the only possible payment method for you, you should verify that the potential buyer is okay with it and accepts this payment method as well.

Wire Transfers

Lastly, a wire transfer is another viable choice. It entails the transfer of funds directly from one bank account to another.

Things to Consider When Selling a Car Privately

If you decide to go the private route when selling your car, you should be aware of the things you have to consider, which include:

  • The degree of involvement: Throughout the process, you’ll have to be a lot more involved than you would be if you opt to sell it for a dealership.
  • Dealing with strangers: You’ll have to screen potential buyers and ensure the safety of all parties involved. You’ll also have to set up a test drive so that the buyer can evaluate the car thoroughly.
  • Verifying payments: Consider payment methods and ensure the authenticity of the method.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions that a private seller might have when putting their car on a private sale.

What Is the Safest Payment Method When Selling a Car Privately?

Cash is the safest form of payment. However, it’s not always an available option.

In such cases, you can consider other payment options, as long as you receive guarantees from the buyer and provide them with the same.

What Is Proof of Vehicle Ownership of a Car?

Proof of vehicle ownership can vary by state. Yet, it generally entails the motor vehicle registration certificate, the title, and the liability form.

In some cases, if the owner has purchased the car privately, it could also include the bill of sale.

Wrapping Up

Selling your car privately is a tedious process that requires more effort than opting for a dealership. However, with due diligence, it can be the most profitable option.

As long as you prepare well and have all the paperwork ready, it should be smooth and quick.

Once you’ve valued your car, start advertising and screening buyers, and everything should flow from there.

What do you think the most important aspect is? Let us know in the comments and share the article with people who might be interested in the topic if you found it helpful!

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