If you’ve been surfing the web for any period of time, I’m sure you’ve heard of this nifty little site called Craigslist. Craigslist is a website that allows people to list items they would like to sell for free. Potential buyers can then browse the site and see all the cool stuff available to buy (this is free too!). There are a myriad of other services Craigslist provides, but buying and selling make up the bulk of the website’s offerings. Today we’re going to review some tips on how to sell your car on Craigslist quickly, while also getting top dollar for the car.
Here are (3) reasons I think you should use craigslist to sell your car:
- It’s Local - Craigslist pages are arranged by locality. For instance, if you live in Kansas City, Missouri there is a specific website dedicated to that area. This is important because you will more than likely want to sell your car to someone local. Most other online auction services do not consider the seller and buyer being from the same part of the country.
- It’s Free – As mentioned above, using Craigslist to buy and sell items is free. When something is free and extremely useful, it is hard to beat!
- People Use It – Every single person I know that is looking to buy a used car from an owner uses Craigslist to browse for available deals. The number’s don’t lie–Craigslist works!
Give It a Good Ole’ Cleaning
In order to get the car sold quickly and for top dollar, you should make sure the car’s appearance is ready for the potential buyers:
- Wash the exterior of the car with a sponge and soap made for cars (you can also use soap you wash dishes with, but I have found it tends to leave water spots on the exterior).
- Use a shammy to absorb all the excess water off of the car.
- After the car has finished drying, use some tire polish to make the tires shine. Make sure you don’t get any tire polish on the wheels or hubcaps as it leaves blotches that are quite noticeable.
- Now it is time to focus on the windows. With some window cleaner and newspaper or coffee filters (they don’t leave streaks), thoroughly clean the outside and inside of the glass.
- Next, use a shop vac or vacuum cleaner to clean out the interior of the car.
- After finishing, use some all purpose auto cleaner to clean the plastic, dash, steering wheel, cup holders, etc. The idea is to make sure the interior portions of the car are clean and free of dirt, crumbs, dust, etc.
Your car might not look as nice as spending a few hundred bucks for a detail, but that isn’t the point. You are trying to sell the car quickly and for top dollar. The above cleaning tips will help your car stand out from the pack.
Break Out the Photography Skills
Your goal is to capture eight quality pictures that give Craigslist searchers a realistic idea of what the car looks like. I’m no expert in taking pictures, so if I can do it anyone can! You want to take at least 10-15 pictures to find the eight you are looking for. The eight pictures I use are (1) side view, (1) front view (1) view of the dash, and (1) interior view (usually of the driver’s side seat), and whatever additional photos turned out best. After deciding on the eight pictures, upload them to your computer in anticipation of listing. Also, try to take the picture with some nice scenery. Maybe a tree or at a park…and not in front of the trash barrels at your house. Also, you do not want a picture of your home, license plate number, or home address in the photo. Call me paranoid, but I would just assume that buyers not be able to recognize my home or see my plate number.
It is important to not skip this step. The question to ask yourself is this: “If I were looking for a car like mine, would the eight pictures I’ve taken give me a good idea of what to expect when viewing the car in person?”
Gather Important Documents
If you own the car free and clear, dig out the title in preparation of selling the car. If you have a car loan, contact your bank or credit union and let them know of your intentions. Then once you find a buyer, the transaction will hopefully progress smoothly.
If you have kept good records on all maintenance you’ve done, now would be a good time to dig that out as well. The more detail you can provide showing that your car was well cared for, the better chance you have at selling the car for top dollar.
Set Your Selling Price
This is one of the most important steps, as your selling price will determine how quickly you sell the car. It is a good idea to use multiple car value websites to get a good idea of what it is worth. Remember, selling your car personally is a private party sale. So the suggested retail price is worthless. If the buyer wanted to buy a car for the retail price, he would just go down to the local dealer!
Here are the free car appraisal services that I use:
- http://www.kbb.com/used-cars/ - Kelley Blue Book usually comes up with the highest appraisal.
- http://www.nadaguides.com/Cars - NADA is usually in the middle.
- http://www.edmunds.com/appraisal/ - Edmunds usually provides the lowest appraisal.
I’m not going to give a tutorial on how to use these 3 resources, because it is very self-explanatory and user friendly. Remember that you are looking for the private party value, not retail or trade in. I usually average the three quotes to come up with my initial listing price.
Important: If you owe $19,000 on a car with an average private party value of $15,000, you will be wasting your time trying to sell the car for payoff. I’m not saying it’s impossible to sell a car for more than the private party appraisal, but it will take you much longer to sell it. It might be a better strategy to hold onto the car until you can pay the note down further. It will get frustrating trying to sell a car for more than the market will pay, and you will probably be wasting a lot of time and energy.
Listing the Car on Craigslist
Now that we have the car cleaned, the pictures taken, the documents ready, and the selling price set, it is time to list the car on Craigslist. While you can list the car without an account, it is way easier to manage the listing if you create one.
- Go to craigslist.com
- Select log-in in the top left hand corner.
- From here you can either log-in or create account.
- If you need to create an account, just follow the prompts to do that. Once you have created the account and are logged in, click on the tab labeled “New Posting”.
- There will be several categories to choose, starting with what city and state you want the car listed in, then select for sale, then cars for sale by owner.
- Next is the list description, title, and list price. This is the most important part of listing the vehicle. You want to include in the posting title the make, model, and year. Include the price you are listing it for. Be sure to include the location. Do not TYPE THE DESCRIPTION IN ALL CAPS. Use proper grammar. Describe the defects in the car (honesty will help you to avoid people who expect a ten year old car to look brand new). Use lists and bullet points. Be honest about the condition of the car. Explain the ownership history. If it has a salvage title, make sure you include that. I would recommend including a phone number, but do not just use all numbers (This: 314-eight six seven – 5309; Not This: 314-867-5309) This will help attract potential buyers while detracting some spam. Be specific about how you want the potential buyer to contact you. Give enough of a description so you are not answering general questions all day long, but don’t be overly lengthy. You want to accurately describe the car in a way that projects a professional demeanor. There is also a new map option on Craigslist. If you want to put the address of where the car is at so people can drive by, go ahead and Craigslist will have the map with your listing. This is optional, so if you don’t want it, just check the box to decline the map.
- Hit continue. Next, you get to upload your pictures! Make sure you put the pictures in a folder or location on your computer that you can find, and upload them individually. I don’ t know about your camera, but mine apparently takes pictures with high resolution, and it can take several minutes to upload a single picture. After you have the pictures uploaded to the listing, click continue, and click continue again. Craigslist will email you a link to enable the listing to go live.
- Now that you have your listing and account, you can simply log in to manage your listing. You don’t have to re-do this entire process over and over. Simply select “manage listings” and renew as frequently as you can.
- After you have sold the car, don’t forget to delete the listing! It’s always frustrating to find a great deal on Craigslist only to find out the seller let go of the item already.
There you have it! Those are the essential steps you will need to sell your car on Craigslist.
Have you ever sold a car online before? Did I leave out any steps in how to sell your car on craigslist?