Negotiating a Used Car Sale

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If you're selling your car to a private party, you'll need to be ready to negotiate. To make sure you get the best price for your car and to help you do it in the simplest manner possible, here are some basic steps to take before you negotiate your used car sale.

Be Prepared

Start by presenting your car in a clean, sellable manner. This simple step will make it easier for you to start your negotiations on a level playing field.

From there, you should anticipate your buyer's questions. The more straightforward and clear you are with your answers, the easier your negotiations will go.

Know Your Vehicle's Value

Before you put your car up for sale, you should know exactly what your car is worth. Start by using an online appraisal resource like Kelley Blue Book. Using details about your vehicle including make, model, and mileage, you'll receive an estimate of your car's value.

In addition, you can have your car professionally appraised. CarMax offers an appraisal service that gives you, in writing, the wholesale value of your vehicle. Armed with both of these details, you can determine the ballpark sale price you are willing to work with.

Understand the Market

In addition to researching your particular vehicle's value, it's also worth looking into what similar cars are selling for in your area.

Search local listings for vehicles and see what the sellers are asking for. Some options include:

  • AutoTrader.
  • Craigslist.
  • eBay.

Another option if you have a highly desirable car is to list it on the online enthusiast forums. A quick Google search with the make and model of your car and the word “forum" should lead you in the right direction.

Have Your Paperwork Ready

If you have a seller ready to buy, you need to be ready to hand them the keys. Not only do you need to prove you're the legal owner of your vehicle; buyers want to know you've done the proper maintenance on the car.

You should have the following paperwork ready to show your buyer:

Set Your Expectations

Bottom line, you need to know when you're ready to sell and when to walk away from used car sale negotiations. You should always have a price that's your absolute cut off.

You should also keep in mind the reality of your vehicle and what it's worth. If you're trying to stick closely to an overly inflated price, you may end up disappointed and without a sale. Know what you want to get and be willing to be flexible to get it.

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