Less than a week after posting my car for sale on Craig's List, I've taken a cash deposit based on a sale price in my preferred range, and expect to finalize the sale (upon receipt of a cashier's check) within the next few days. I've learned a few things about selling a car, and for those who may be doing it soon, here's my advice:
- Read and follow the directions given in online “How to's.” Read the selling version AND the buyer's version, so you know what the people coming to buy your car have been looking at as well. My favorite was Kelley Blue Book's 10 Steps to Selling Your Car. I also referenced Guide to Selling Your Car and AutoTrader's How to Sell Your Car.
- Post, or re-post, your ad on Friday evening. I posted my ad on Monday (probably the worst day) and started to feel anxious when the inquiries didn't roll in. I even started to lower my asking price. I thought people would schedule time to test drive for the weekend, however I received the majority of inquiries between Friday night and Saturday afternoon. This might have been because daylight savings time is over so people wouldn't be able to really see the car on the weeknights, or people were simply wrapped up with school/work.
- If you're in a major metro area, allow your Craig's List ad to stay up over at least one weekend before shelling out $30+ for an ad on AutoTrader. All of my leads came from Craig's List (which is free).
- Of the 6 people who responded, 5 wanted a test drive. I accepted the offer made by the first person to test drive it (early bird gets the worm). I politely canceled the remaining appointments once I accepted a cash deposit and a handwritten note with the “terms” of the deal and both parties' signatures.
- If you only have 2.5 weeks before leaving the country on a trip around the world, your car's sale price will make up more than 30% of your budget, and you receive an offer within your range from a friendly man who holds a senior position at your own bank, TAKE IT!
What a relief! I was as transparent as a windshield, and didn't negotiate worth a hoot, however he offered me the exact figure I had in my mind (which was definitely more than I'd get at Carmax), and I felt completely comfortable dealing with him (and his daughter, for whom he is buying the car).
My last hurdle is getting approved for new medical insurance. More on the company/plan I applied for later!
PS – I've always based my savings plan on a conservative value for my car (what I expected to get at Carmax). Now that I've made a private deal, the difference is like a bonus! It could buy me a extra few weeks in any country on my list, or perhaps something big like a helicopter ride. Perhaps a multi-day sail in Australia's Whitsundays, or the more expensive trek in Nepal to Everest Base Camp!