Advice for private sellers
Dealing locally is best.
- Never let a buyer test drive your car alone
- Make sure they have a valid driving licence and suitable insurance cover, or you could be liable for any accidents
- Ask a close friend or relative to be with you
- Keep hold of the car keys at all times and never leave the buyer in the car with the keys
- Let buyers follow their own route, as many are suspicious if you dictate which roads to take
- Don’t be afraid to ask them to slow down or stop – it’s still your car
Make sure you’ve prepared your car for sale:
- Allow the buyer to take their time and view the car properly
- Avoid distracting the buyer from carrying out their own checks
- Most buyers will want to start the car when the engine is cold, so try not to drive the car shortly before a viewing
Professional used car inspections are popular. The buyer must pay the cost and, if you’re serious about selling the car, you shouldn’t have any objections.
Negotiating the price
Buyers will be keen to bargain down your asking price. Try to be firm, without being unreasonable. Usually 80% of sellers will drop the price to get a quick sale and buyers know this.
So, your asking price should be a bit more than you would actually settle for. Before you begin negotiations, make sure you have worked out the lowest price you’re willing to sell the car for. Don’t decline a sale if a buyer’s highest offer is only slightly below your set price – it could cost you far more in re-advertising fees, time and hassle.
The best way to take payment is in cash and at a bank, so you can pay the money straight into your account and the cashier can check for fake notes:
- Ask to be paid in cash – this is the safest method of payment
- If you receive payment by cheque or electronic transfer, keep possesion of the car until the funds transfer
- Ask the buyer for a copy of their ID with an address and landline telephone number
If a buyer makes an offer on your car but cannot pay the full asking price on the day, you can either continue to advertise it and offer it to other buyers, on a first come first buy basis, or take a non refundable deposit (a figure agreed between buyer and seller) in return for holding the car for an agreed period of time, enough for the buyer to arrange finance or money transfers. Make sure, both parties agree both the deposit amount and the time period in writing. This can be done in the form of a hand written and signed receipt, or exchange of emails. Don’t rely on verbal agreements.
If you are requested to take the car to the buyer for viewing you can request a non-refundable deposit to cover your expenses to do so.
Avoid complicated payment schemes.
Be suspicious of a payment process that involves many steps. One popular scam involves sending you a cashier's check for more than the purchase amount and asking you to wire the difference back to the buyer. These cashier's checks could be counterfeit and your bank will hold you liable. Any overpayment you wire back to the buyer will come directly out of your pocket.
Do not transfer title of your vehicle to the buyer until the buyer's check or bank transfer has cleared or you have received full cash payment for your vehicle. You should always verify the authenticity of any cashier's or certified check with the issuing bank. Do not rely on the phone number printed on the check; look it up yourself. Never accept a check for more than your asking price.
PREPARE YOUR CAR FOR SALE
Preparing your car properly can make a used car look new, adding to its value.
Car maintenance checks
Most car buyers will check under the bonnet when viewing a car. Remember to:-
- Check the oil level and top it up if needed – information on this will be included in the car’s handbook
- Fill all water and coolant vessels – again, check the handbook
- Check tyre pressures and replace any worn or damaged tyres
- Repair damage to trim if possible
Washing your car
Spending a few hours cleaning your car could add hundreds to the car’s value by giving it a cared-for look. Give the bodywork a wash and remove watermarks with a chamois leather cloth. Alloy wheel cleaner helps remove stubborn dirt from wheels and it’s a good idea to replace damaged wheel trims.
Clean the interior
A clean interior is as important as sparkling bodywork. Make sure you:
- Vacuum the carpets, mats and seats
- Empty the ash trays
- Remove rubbish from the boot and glovebox
- Wipe the dashboard and trim panels with a damp cloth
- Clean glass with a window cleaner and damp chamois
Buyers will want to see the car’s history, so gather it all together and put it in a folder. Don’t forget to include:
- The registration document (Bluebook) Service history – receipts and service book
- Warranty documents
- The car’s handbook