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5 Tips to Simplify the Process of Selling Your Car Privately

Selling a car privately can net you more money than trading it in at a dealer, whether you’re wanting to replace your automobile or get rid of an extra one to profit from rising used-car values. There are some costs associated with the financial gain, though. There are more dangers involved when vetting potential purchasers, doing test drives, and collecting payment, so you’ll need to put in more time and effort. To make sure the extra effort pays off, learn how to move through each stage of the process.

1. Establish the Value of Your Car

The value of a car depends on numerous things. In addition to the age, mileage, and condition of the car, other factors including the economy, fuel prices, and brand recognition also matter. For instance, the inventory deficit has increased the value of used cars, particularly for older models: As of July 2022, the median cost among Cars.com dealers for a used car that was ten years old (model year 2012) was $16,331. In contrast, the median cost of a car that was 10 years old (model year 2010) in July 2020 was only $8,995.

2. Produce an advertisement to engage consumers

The next step is to market your car to potential purchasers. First, take pictures of the vehicle and write an advertisement using online resources like Cars.com’s sell-it-yourself option. After highlighting the benefits of your car in the advertisement, you’ll need to get in touch with prospective buyers via phone calls and emails. Customers don’t expect a used automobile to be in pristine condition, but they do expect the condition to match the description, so you’ll want to highlight your vehicle’s greatest features while being honest about its state.

3. Prepare the paperwork

When it comes to documentation, selling privately requires more planning than exchanging with a dealer who will typically handle this stage.  You must get in touch with your lender to find out the payoff amount and the steps to complete the transaction if you still owe money on the car and the title is in the lienholder’s hands.

Although not required, adding extra paperwork like a vehicle history report, maintenance records, and extended warranty information may increase the vehicle’s appeal, allowing you to sell it more quickly or for more money.

4. Sell It Safely: Payment and Test Drives

When scheduling a test drive, chat with the prospective buyer on the phone, choose a meeting location in a busy area, and invite a friend if you can. Before handing over the keys if the customer insists on taking the test drive alone, be sure to take a picture of their driver’s license information.

Once you’ve received a reasonable offer, you must securely transfer ownership and collect payment. Inform the buyer of your preferred payment method, which should be a cashier’s check or cash since personal checks are riskier.

5. Secure Untied Ends

A few extra steps may be necessary to complete the transaction in some private selling scenarios. You’ll need to set up the vehicle pickup if the buyer is from out of town, or you might think about employing a vehicle delivery service. Depending on the distance traveled and the weight of the vehicle, prices can range from $1,000 to $2,000, on average.

You should take off the vehicle’s license plates before transferring ownership to the new owner because they must remain with the seller in the majority of states. One state that requires license plates to remain on the vehicle is California.

Some states also demand that the seller notify the Department of Motor Vehicles when the car is privately sold within a certain amount of time. For information on any paperwork needed for a private vehicle sale, contact the DMV in your state. Last but not least, let your insurance company know and ask them to take the sold car off your policy.

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