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  1. #1
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    Craigslist car selling?

    I'm planning to buy a new car and am considering trying to sell my current car on Craigslist rather than trade it in to the dealer (2004 car, probably won't get a decent trade-in value from the dealer).

    What's the protocol for selling a car on CL? In particular, how does one as a seller handle a request by a potential buyer to take the car to a mechanic for an inspection? That seems like a reasonable request, but I obviously don't want the buyer to never come back with the car. What's the usual way to handle this?

    Also -- any general CL car selling LoungeWisdom to impart? I'm kind of hesitant to do the CL thing because of all the horror stories I've read.

  2. #2
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    I've had mixed results selling a car on Craigslist. Years ago, I posted my 2001 Saturn and got emails from brokers wanting to sell the car for me, but no real buyers. I ended up trading it in for cash at a dealership.

    About a year ago, I posted my 2003 Mini Cooper and got a good bite. I met the buyer at a neural location and he looked the car over. Fortunately, after talking about careers, I found out his wife worked for the same gov't agency as mine in the same building. After trust was built, he did a wire transfer on Sunday to my bank account. Once the money cleared, I met his wife at work and signed over the title. The deal was quick and drama-free.

    In your situation, I suggest on meeting the potential buyer at a public venue and ask before he/she drives off in the vehicle ask to take a picture of the individual's drivers license and insurance card. If time permits, mutually agree to a garage to inspect the car and both go over. That way, the mechanic can give both parties the assessment of the vehicle's condition and what items that need attention. This will help in the final negotiation of the agreed upon selling price.

  3. #3
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by bike981 View Post
    In particular, how does one as a seller handle a request by a potential buyer to take the car to a mechanic for an inspection? That seems like a reasonable request, but I obviously don't want the buyer to never come back with the car. What's the usual way to handle this?
    Ask them what mechanic. Then either arrange to go together. Or that you'll take the car and have them mechanic contact the buyer the results.

    There's other online sources too. You might get better results with one of them.
    https://www.cars.com/sell/
    https://www.kbb.com/sell-your-car/
    https://www.autotrader.com/sell-my-car/

    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    In your situation, I suggest on meeting the potential buyer at a public venue and ask before he/she drives off in the vehicle ask to take a picture of the individual's drivers license and insurance card.
    Agree, but I still wouldn't let them just drive off. You should ride along. That's how it's been done with ever car I've ever bought or sold. New or used.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I've had mixed results selling a car on Craigslist. Years ago, I posted my 2001 Saturn and got emails from brokers wanting to sell the car for me, but no real buyers. I ended up trading it in for cash at a dealership.
    Yeah, I've read stories along these lines, the end result being a lot of time spent with nothing to show for it.


    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Ask them what mechanic. Then either arrange to go together. Or that you'll take the car and have them mechanic contact the buyer the results.

    There's other online sources too. You might get better results with one of them.
    https://www.cars.com/sell/
    https://www.kbb.com/sell-your-car/
    https://www.autotrader.com/sell-my-car/

    Agree, but I still wouldn't let them just drive off. You should ride along. That's how it's been done with ever car I've ever bought or sold. New or used.
    Going along to the mechanic would be fine, but again it means more time on my part. This seems to be a theme for CL car sellers. Same with test drives -- ride along.

    I traded in my previous car to the dealer. That car also was about 14 years old at the time. Though I surely could have sold the car privately for a few hundred dollars more, it sure was nice to be over and done with it at the dealer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bike981 View Post
    Yeah, I've read stories along these lines, the end result being a lot of time spent with nothing to show for it.




    Going along to the mechanic would be fine, but again it means more time on my part. This seems to be a theme for CL car sellers. Same with test drives -- ride along.

    I traded in my previous car to the dealer. That car also was about 14 years old at the time. Though I surely could have sold the car privately for a few hundred dollars more, it sure was nice to be over and done with it at the dealer.
    I sold one vehicle on CL. Met the guy at an office park near my house. He paid cash. I signed the title over on the hood of the truck. Done and done.

  6. #6
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    I have not sold, only bought a car from CL--but spent way too much time looking there. And I have bought and sold a fair bit of construction stuff.

    I would take the horror stories with a large dose of salt--I have probably sold 20 different things on CL--and the idiot to real buyer ratio is not that high--just get ready to tell the idiots that they will have to come out to look and then make their offer, because the new thing is for idiots to phone up and when your price is X, their first question is 'Will you take 1/2 X"--so get ready to brush them off. (Same thing on eBay now--if I wanted 1/2 X that's the price I would have advertised it at. You want it cheaper, make an argument why--and 'because I deserve a bargain' is not an argument.)

    To me selling on CL is no different than when we used to sell stuff using the newspaper classifieds back in the dark ages.

    There are a lot of shysters out there, so a well written car ad with decent pictures, and accurate information--especially one that lets people know that you are the actual owner, and you have the title in hand goes a long way towards getting real buyers out.

    I think for a 2004 standard car (ie not a Porsche or BMW) I'm not sure that people would expect to do a mechanic's inspection, unless there is something troubling about what they see--IMO they are buying transportation. Test drive, maintenance records are what I would expect.

    Two thirds of the 'for sale by owners' on CL are semi-pro curbstoners, so if someone is actually looking to buy, they get pretty good at spotting those and are looking for "real" owners who are selling decent cars, IMO.
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    Sold one car, bought one car on CL and they went way smoother than more than a few of the bike transactions I've tried.

    +1 on the mechanic check, get a name, drop the car off. IMO, worth the effort to at least try. Time invested should be worth the extra 10-20% you'll get.

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    Sold every car but one on Craigslist, I would sell to some dude for trade in price before I gave a dealer a free couple grand

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    I've sold 4 cars on CL and bought 2. The key is just to screen buyers and sellers closely. Some cars sell easier than others, and some cars attract more tire kickers and non-serious buyers. My easiest sale was a VW GTI. Most difficult was a Mazdaspeed Miata. It's usually difficult to sell something that's worth more than about $10k. I tried to sell my Dad's 2-year old BMW for him, but never got a single serious bite.

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    Sold two cars on CL... Never had an issue.
    Meet buyers at an open public area, let them take it out for a test drive... took a picture of the them, the license and the the car they drive up in, including the license plate. Both cash only deals... signed titles on the spot.
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    I helped a friend create the Craigslist ad with recent photos and a detailed description of a low mileage Honda Civic. Within minutes of having the ad go live the emails came pouring in. Everyone seems to be a serious buyer. The annoying ones would ask what is the lowest price that would be accepted without seeing the car.

    We received easily almost a dozen emails and it was really hard to figure out how to prioritize buyers and show cars without wasting time on no shows. I suggested we set a time starting at 9am on Saturday. Anyone who was interested in buying the car could ask for the address and come check it out, first arrival would have first option to test or buy. About 1/2 of the emails asked for the address.

    Saturday rolls around and only one person shows up. My friend goes with him for a test drive, the guy likes it and accepts the asking price. He goes to his bank and we go to get a smog certificate. Car is sold in about two hours.

    No one else shows up that Saturday to see the car. You have to figure a way to weed out the non-serious buyers.

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    Thanks, all. The advice is much appreciated.

  13. #13
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    Craigslist can work but be patient and prepared to deal with tire kickers. Took over 6 months to sell this '56 classic street rod to a collector in Japan.

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    We also sold a '84 Merc Turbo Diesel wagon to some hippy lady from Boston. She flew down to DC to pick it up. She was planning on doing the vegetable oil conversion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thatdrewguy View Post
    I helped a friend create the Craigslist ad with recent photos and a detailed description of a low mileage Honda Civic. Within minutes of having the ad go live the emails came pouring in. Everyone seems to be a serious buyer. The annoying ones would ask what is the lowest price that would be accepted without seeing the car.

    We received easily almost a dozen emails and it was really hard to figure out how to prioritize buyers and show cars without wasting time on no shows. I suggested we set a time starting at 9am on Saturday. Anyone who was interested in buying the car could ask for the address and come check it out, first arrival would have first option to test or buy. About 1/2 of the emails asked for the address.

    Saturday rolls around and only one person shows up. My friend goes with him for a test drive, the guy likes it and accepts the asking price. He goes to his bank and we go to get a smog certificate. Car is sold in about two hours.

    No one else shows up that Saturday to see the car. You have to figure a way to weed out the non-serious buyers.
    Things like low-mile Civics will sell like hotcakes. There's tons of people trolling Craiglist for Civics. If you are selling something more esoteric like a classic street rod, the pool of buyers is dramatically smaller.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thatdrewguy View Post
    I helped a friend create the Craigslist ad with recent photos and a detailed description of a low mileage Honda Civic. Within minutes of having the ad go live the emails came pouring in. Everyone seems to be a serious buyer...
    We received easily almost a dozen emails and it was really hard to figure out how to prioritize buyers and show cars without wasting time on no shows. I suggested we set a time starting at 9am on Saturday...About 1/2 of the emails asked for the address.

    Saturday rolls around and only one person shows up...
    No one else shows up that Saturday to see the car. You have to figure a way to weed out the non-serious buyers.
    Have sold many cars and motorcycles with CL and other local ad papers over the years.
    In general, about 1 in 2 or 3 "serious buyers" who make an appointment and get your address show up. The ones that do, if you screened them correctly, and your ad is honest, usually buy. Expect everyone to try and negotiate the price down in person, after the test drive, with offers of "cash now".

    My typical ploy to combat this is to explain there are 2-3 people waiting to make appointments who are very interested, so if the item is still available after they see it, I'll consider the lower offer. They usually up their offer, and buy it. If I get 90-95% of asking price i'm usually happy.

    This also works in reverse for buying from people who have something you want at an unreasonably high price. I make a reasonable offer, then walk, asking the seller to call me in a week or two if they have changed their mind.

  17. #17
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    zmer paredown and lampshade have good comments.

    I have sold several.

    Here are some things I try to do.
    Figure out your final sell point, and be ready for offers. Deal with low-ballers accordingly. You can figure out a realistic price by reviewing similar cars - but you only see asking price, not final. So, you gotta kind of gestalt it.

    Put a lot of work into the ad - allow people to know exactly what is going on. Several pics, and admit problems. [A mechanic once said my old Civic probably had a blown head gasket, so i wrote "may have blown head gasket." A DIY-er bought it and drove it off, and I never heard from him again, so I guess he was happy enough.]

    I am comfortable with people coming to my home - from emails or phone, you get a feel for them.

    One of your selling points is your normalness. just be straightforward and simple. But herein lies some salesmanship - keep your mouth shut, for the most part. People like to buy things, so just allow them to review the car, and make an offer. You already know your bottom line, so do open up yo trap to negotiate. --Part of this advice - in my situation - is keeping my wife from jabbering on and on about how it is hard to clean up spilled juice from kids, about the time the car overheated, etc. So, give your spouse [of either gender] the credit card and send them shopping. Keep the kids away, too. Kids say the darndest things.

    Be ready to walk away from any deal. If you are "philosophical" about it, rather than desperate, you seem normal and confident, and this can be read by the buyer, who will then be getting no "desperation" vibe.

    You will get only a couple or few serious inquiries - be totally ready to act on them ASAP. Don't list on Friday as you head out of town for the weekend. I generally say, "Yes still available. And tomorrow morning (or whatever - soon ) would be a good time for me. Let me know." A genuine buyer will move on to another opportunity if you wait half a week to respond. --Genuinely interested people will respond. The 9/10 who are just blabbering at the email will not respond - just forget them - don't follow up if they miss a planned time, etc. If they want it, they will send another email. Or text.

    If you post, then get a response like 7-10 days later, after the other responses have tailed off, that very well may be a genuinely interested buyer - respond quickly. It is often someone who has just begun looking, and just run a search for a [whatever], and your posting came up as recently posted in the recent several days.

    Know ALL paperwork to sell car in advance, and have EVERYTHING ready. Know how to complete forms, and do title signing.

    Count the cash. Deposit the agreed-upon amount in your checking account as one way to mark that the car got sold for that amount.

    Large amounts of cash, some stranger coming to your home: some states allow conce aled ca rry which some believe can give you some margin of safety. You decide. Myself, I feel safer with some safety options. Safety on, safety off, whatever you feel most comfortable with.

    Do all transaction outside, if you don't feel safe bringing person in home.


    I agree that I would rather get that final $500 than have the dealer get it on trade-in.

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