The Price of Convenience
Lets face it, we pay for convenience. When you go to the “convenience” store and buy some milk, you’re going to pay more. Why? Because it’s easy. And when it comes time to get a new car or truck, it’s somewhat easier to trade it in at the dealership rather than sell it yourself. But we’re not talking about milk here, so the stakes are a lot higher and the price you’re paying for “convenience” is not worth it’s cost.
Sell or Trade?
When it comes time to get a new or newer vehicle, most everyone will face the decision to either trade in their “old” car to the dealership or sell it. Most people choose to trade it in because, lets face it, it’s easier. But the problem with trading it is you lose literally thousands of dollars for that “convenience”. And it’s not as inconvenient to sell your car as you might think. In this guide I will give you some valuable tips that will assist you in selling your car or truck quickly, safely, and for top dollar. My net gain on the last vehicle I sold was $5700.00. Yes, $5700.00! The difference between what I was offered from the dealerships to either trade or sell my vehicle verses what I actually sold it for was $5700.00. That would have been a ton of money to give up for a little “convenience”.
I’ll give you a little background as to how I’ve came to know how to sell a car for top dollar. My dad has been involved with buying and selling cars for as long as I can remember. He would buy cars, fix them up, then sell them for a profit. As a matter of fact, he’s still in the car business to this day as he owns an independent car dealership. That’s partially how I got into the business that I’ve been in now for the past 18 years, which is, improving the appearance of cars by repairing scratches, chips, bumper damages, dents, etc. I’ve been in and around franchise car dealerships improving their cars’ appearances, so I’ve seen the “behind the scenes”. I was also a SC State Trooper, so I’m very knowledgeable with the paperwork that goes along with buying and selling a car, and how to do it as safely as possible.
Getting the Best Price on Your Next Vehicle Purchase
The first fact that is important to know is that you will buy a new or used car from the dealership at the lowest possible price if you buy it “outright”. Outright means buying their car without trading your old one in. It’s a straight sale. So knowing that you will get the best possible purchase price when buying a new car by buying it “outright”, then it should encourage you to sell your car yourself then go to the dealership, without a trade, and get the best price you can get.
Getting the Most By Selling Your Vehicle
Now let me tell you why you will get the most money for your car by selling it yourself instead of trading it in. To be fair to the dealerships, they must give you a wholesale price for your car if they’re going to be able to make a profit when they go to sell your car. Lets face it, car dealerships are in business to make a profit so you really can’t fault them for that! That’s capitalism and is part of what’s made our country the greatest nation on the planet. But also the free market system is what gives you the ability to sell your own car yourself and reap the rewards for it. One fact about selling your car that most people don’t understand is that the person who would be interested in buying your car would rather buy your car from you rather than buy your car from a dealership. The main reason is because you know the car. You know all about it. You can answer, not only questions a potential customer might have, in general about your type of car, but more specifically about your car, the exact one they’re interested in buying! There are some exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, a person would rather deal directly with the owner of a car to purchase rather than with a dealer trying to sell a car that they know very little about.
1. Get Your Car Ready to Sell
So the first thing I recommend is getting your vehicle in tip-top shape prior to selling it. One reason is, most of your potential customers are going to be comparing your vehicle with one’s they see at the dealerships. And what do the dealerships do with their vehicles? They make them look as good as they possibly can! Think about it, when you look at a used car at a franchise dealership, do you think those cars come in from the auction, or are traded in looking that good? Of course not! A lot of dealerships won’t allow prospective buyers to even see their used cars prior to them being reconditioned. They know first impressions are important so they don’t want a potential customer to be scared away by what they see. And dealers know that the amount they spend on making their used cars look like new will not only make their vehicles more valuable, thus netting them more money on the sale, but also make the vehicle sell faster by attracting more potential buyers. Dealers know that when a car is in great condition, cosmetically, then potential customers will assume that it has been taken good care of mechanically. This is one big way we can help you here at Extreme Colors of Greenville. We offer the same reconditioning services to you, that we’ve been providing to the dealerships for the past 18 years! We know how to increase value in your car by showing you where to invest the minimum amount, for cosmetic improvements, in order to yield maximum results at the time of sale. We repair and repaint bumpers, at a fraction of the cost, of a conventional body shop. We fix minor scratches and chips. We provide paint enhancement services such as removing contaminants from painted surfaces, as well as buffing, waxing, & sealing. We also offer paint-less dent removal, wheel repair, interior repair, and headlight restoration. We can make your car look as good as the dealership’s vehicles. You know, the one’s you’ll be competing against.
As you can see in this pic, we got our Sequoia in pristine condition prior to advertising it for sale.
2. Get the Baseline Price for Your Vehicle
Now I’m a numbers guy. When I win at something, I like to know by how much. So the next thing I recommend is to take 30 minutes of your time and go to Carmax, and let them give you a written offer for purchase. That will be your baseline. This is the number that you know that you need to beat to win. Once you have the offer from Carmax, you now have your mission. And your mission is to sell your car for as much as you possibly can, and the amount you get over Carmax’s offer, is the amount by which you win! Now let me use my personal example I listed earlier. My wife and I owned a 2006 Toyota Sequoia with about 92,000 miles on it. It was a limited edition, loaded, and in pretty good condition. I cleaned it up, painted the front bumper, touched up some minor paint issues and dings, buffed and waxed the paint, and made the interior spotless. I took it from looking “pretty good” to looking “totally awesome”! I drove it to our local Carmax, here in Greenville, SC, and had them do a written appraisal and offer on it. After doing their appraisal, they made me an offer of $12,000.00, and told me they would cut me a check for it. I wasn’t shocked, mad, or disheartened. I knew that I could sell it for much more than that myself, but I did like knowing what I would really be getting for it if I traded it in or sold it wholesale. I went around to some of my dealer-manager friends and asked them what they thought it was worth and I got answers from $12,000.00 to $12,500.00 depending on what I would be buying from them when I traded it. So I now knew the real wholesale number on it was $12,000.00
3. Compare Advertised Prices on Similar Vehicles
The next step in this process, is to figure out what price you need to advertise your vehicle for. I recommend spending some time on the internet, searching for vehicles similar to yours, within a 200 mile radius. You can visit sites such as Cars.com, Autotrader.com, Edmunds.com, and also, visit dealership’s websites, such as Carmax, for vehicles similar to yours. Go to Kelley Blue Book’s website and enter your vehicle information to get a “book value”. Take all this information and price your vehicle accordingly. Use common sense when comparing your vehicle to others. Price your car or truck a little lower than the most similar vehicle that is currently listed on the site you plan to list yours on.
4. Advertise Your Car or Truck
This is the ad that I ran on Cars.com for our Sequoia.
Next, I decided to list our Toyota Sequoia on Cars.com. There are many other ways to advertise your car for sale. I chose them because I’ve sold several of our cars by advertising on their site before, and had great results. Cars.com is also affiliated with our local newspaper so when you advertise with them on their website, they have a package that also places your ad in the local newspaper. There are similar sites such as Autotrader.com, that may also be good, I just haven’t had any experience with them. At the time that I ran the Sequoia ad, I paid about $80.00 for the ad. It ran for 30 days on their site and 2 weeks in the newspaper. Cars.com allows you to place lots of pictures and content on their site to promote your vehicle. This stage of the game is extremely important. Take a ridiculous number of pictures and pick the best ones to upload. You want to show every angle of your vehicle from the outside and the inside. Remember that the more information you show and list about your vehicle, the more qualified your potential buyer will be. Your goal isn’t go get 100 people calling and inquiring about your vehicle, it’s to attract the 1 person who is going to buy your car or truck.
Be sure to highlight luxury options such as a DVD Entertainment System.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so show the potential buyer how much tread there is on the tires.
Since most used vehicles have chipped-up front ends, I wanted to highlight the front of ours in the ad we ran in Cars.com
5. Meeting the Potential Buyer
Let’s talk about security. You have to play it safe. Use common sense when talking with and meeting with potential buyers. I would recommend that you meet a potential buyer in a safe place. Heck, you can even meet them in the parking lot of your local law enforcement center! Or, you can meet them at your home. I’ve read from others, who advise people on selling via the internet, to never meet a potential buyer at your home. For me, I do not consider this anymore dangerous than meeting in a public place. But I’m also a former State Trooper who is usually “packing heat”, so every situation is different. If you’re a single female, I would absolutely not advise meeting a potential buyer at your home. And I would only meet in public, and never alone. Ask one of your big and burly friends to come along for added security.
6. Negotiating the Price
You’re now at the point to where the potential buyer is about to turn into a buyer. That is, upon agreeing on a selling price. Never negotiate price with someone who isn’t a serious buyer. If someone calls you on the phone and asks about discounting the price, tell them you will not discuss any price discounting at this time. They must first drive the vehicle and decide that they do, in fact, want it. I only negotiate price when someone is ready to purchase. They must have have the funds, or banking assistance, before I will even entertain any price negotiations. And the only way to insure that they are serious is that they are ready to either pay you for your vehicle in cash, or are ready to give a sizable cash deposit to hold the vehicle until they can obtain a cashier’s check. A $300.00 deposit is usually enough to show someone’s serious. And if you did your homework correctly, when figuring out your asking price, you shouldn’t negotiate by much.
7. The Transaction
In South Carolina, if your vehicle doesn’t have a lien against it, and you have the title, then the back of the title can act as the bill of sale. If your vehicle is not “paid off”, then you will need to contact the lien holder and get the “pay off” amount. Most vehicle transactions will involve at least one banking institution. The bank providing the financing, and the bank getting paid off from the seller. Banks are very familiar with transactions of this type, so typically, you will do the actual transaction at the buyer’s bank. If you do not have the title then you will need to get a bill of sale from your local department of motor vehicle office. Be sure to make a copy of the completed bill of sale to keep on file and prove that the vehicle has been sold. If you’re not transferring your vehicle license plate, then you need to turn it in at your local DMV. Make sure to notify your county tax office so that you will no longer be liable for the property taxes on the sold vehicle. They will want a copy of your bill of sale to verify that you no longer own it.
Is it worth the minimal time it takes to sell your own car? What would you do with an extra $5700.00(+/-)? Please let me know if I can be of assistance. You can make an appointment to come into our Woodruff Road location and get a free evaluation of vehicle. I can advise you as to what I would recommend improving on your car or truck. I figure that for every dollar spent on cosmetically improving the look of your vehicle, you’ll receive your money back threefold. But not only that, you’ll sell it quicker, and without having to make excuses. So whether you’re selling an Audi, BMW, Honda, Lexus, Mercedes, Nissan, or Toyota, doesn’t matter, we perform recondition services on all makes and models.