The attraction of selling your car on your own boils down to one thing: you have a chance to make more money. What more reason do you need?
Selling your car on your own is a great way to go IF you can pull it off. And that’s a big “if.” There are several risks involved when you sell your car on your own that you may not want to bother with, or they may make it impossible for you to sell your car on your own.
If trying to sell your car on your own does nothing else, it makes you appreciate those who sell cars for a living. Selling your car is tough. We like to imagine that all we’ll have to do is put a “For Sale By Owner” sign in our window and people will beat our door down until we sell them our car. It doesn’t take long to realize this isn’t going to happen.
Generally speaking, selling your car is the least convenient and most profitable option while trading it is the most convenient and least profitable. Again sell my car , this is generally speaking. There are exceptions to every rule.
Based on this rule, if getting the most for your car is worth the time, effort, and risk involved, sell it. If not, trade it in. But don’t walk into selling your car on your own blindly without understanding what you are trying to do.
I don’t have to educate you on the amount of identity theft, robbery, fraud, and other crimes that can take place on sites like Craigslist and eBay. If you are going to avoid getting burned, you need to do your homework. Selling a car is a major financial transaction and one that should be done with caution.
Prepare yourself to do some marketing, selling, photography, test-driving, customer follow-up, title work, vehicle history research, detailing, repairs, closing, contract writing, and even some schmoozing. Scared yet? If so, trading may be a better option. If not, keep reading.
Following these simple steps before you actually list your car for sale will help you avoid legal risks and focus on getting the most money for your car:
1. Title Issues
Take the time to consider who owns the car you want to sell and what obligations you have on it. Who has the title? Whose name is on the title? Are they willing to legally release the title to you? What will you need to do to put the title in your name?
If your name is not printed by the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) on the front of the title, you need to take the title down to the DMV and get the title put in your name. This simple step will solve an entire list of potential problems I won’t take the time to go through. Suffice it to say: get the title put in your name. It will save you from many a potential headache.
If you have a loan for which the car is collateral, it will be impossible to sell the vehicle to a private buyer without paying off the loan first. If you can’t afford to pay the car off and then sell it with title in hand, you’ll have to find a buyer willing to let you take their money to your bank, pay off the note, wait for the title or lien release to come in the mail, and then deliver the title or lien release to the buyer.
If you have a local bank, just take the buyer with you. If you don’t have a local bank, good luck finding a buyer willing trust you with their money and no title. In this case, you are probably better off trading it in or selling it to a dealer willing to work with you.
2. Get the Car Ready
Nobody wants to buy a car with Burger King wrappers in the back seat and kid finger smudges on the windows that’s 2,000 miles overdue for an oil change (this also goes for trading it in, by the way).
Get everything out of it. I do mean everything. Look in every compartment, under the seats, and in the trunk. Service records are nice, but how much private information do you want the person buying the car to know? If it were me, I’d go through and black out private info. Vacuum the car out, wash it, and then you still may want to consider getting it detailed.