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April 16, 2007

Selling Your Car: Getting the Most from a Private-Party Sale, part 4 of 5

Heatherconary_small by Heather Conary
When you buy your next car, you might think about trading your older one in to a dealership.  While this is convenient, and may be the best option for you, it can be more lucrative to sell your car as a private party.  Using the same process and techniques that dealerships use to sell cars, you can make sure you get top dollar for your investment!

In Parts 1, 2, and 3 we talked about how to get your car in tip-top selling condition, getting your information organized and ready, and taking great photos!  In Part 4, we’ll talk about doing your research and setting a price.

To get a printable checklist to walk through Part 4: Do Your Research, visit

Do Your Research
To get an idea of how you should be pricing your car, you can go use an online tool like Kelly Blue Book to evaluate and get a rough price.  Other sites that offer this service include NADA Guides and Edmunds.  Tools like these walk you through the valuation process, much like an appraiser at a dealership would.  This is where you will use all the information you gathered from Part 2, the information gathering process.

Check out what vehicle prices are going for in your area.  Check newspapers, classified ads, online listing sites, and even auction sites like eBay.  Vehicle prices vary from region to region, so make sure you’re pricing in your area, to get an idea of what cars are selling for.

If you have added any performance parts, audio enhancements, or aftermarket systems (remote starters or keyless entry), know what you’ve paid for these and how they affect the price that you’re asking.

Additionally, any warranty or insurance packages that you may have purchased (including extended warranty or paint protection) may also the price that you ask.  Assets such as these can raise what you ask for the car.

Wkw008w_at_deskSet Your Price
Once you have an idea of what the value of your car is worth, and what similar cars are selling for in your area, set your price.  Try to be reasonable in your price, considering the prices you’ve found.  However, don’t price too low to start, as this does not leave you much room to negotiate with a potential buyer.

Know What You Want
Even though you have set a specific price for your vehicle, it is important to know what the least you will accept for it is.  If you have a buyer offer you hundreds less than what you’re asking, you will want to know ahead of time how to respond.  When you’re put on the spot is not the place to decide whether you want to hold out and find a buyer who will offer you closer to what you’re asking, or if you’d rather sell and have the cash in hand.

Determine How You Want to Be Paid
Chances are that you will not be able to accept a credit card for payment.  You should know in advance whether you wish to have cash, a check, or a money order.  Cash is the most secure of the three, but some buyers may not feel comfortable paying cash.

Coming Up
Stay tuned for Part 5, where we’ll talk about writing a good description and advertising your car!


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