Selling a Used Car, Part 3: Test Drive and Negotiation

This is the third installment of a 4-part series about my recent experience in selling my used car. The other posts in the series are:

The car was ready. An ad was placed on Craigslist. Just waiting for interested buyers. A few people called. They asked about the car. I told them about it. If they were still interested, we arranged for a test drive. I’ve seen some suggestion that I should meet the buyers in a public place, away from my home. But I didn’t bother. I think having the buyers come to my home gives them another layer of trust. If I were buying a car, I’d like to know who I’m buying from.

On a Sunday morning, two buyers came back to back. The first buyer was a little late and the second buyer came a little early. I let them test drive themselves, but I took pictures of their driver’s license, them, and their vehicle before I gave them the key. If they were criminals, it’s much easier to report a stolen car than having someone report me as a kidnap victim. After they test drove it, both wanted to buy the car. Having them both there created an implicit bidding situation. They knew they couldn’t lowball me. One buyer decided to accept the asking price. I was pretty happy about the outcome.

There was only one catch. The guy said he was buying it with a loan from his bank for which he was already preapproved. The bank needed to process the loan with the VIN etc. “Oh well, whatever it works for you then.” I said and sent the buyer away with the necessary info. This turned out to be a mistake. I should’ve asked for a deposit. A few days later, he called me saying he couldn’t get the loan. By the time I called my other buyer, he was no longer interested, perhaps a little unhappy about my not selling the car to him in the first place.

Start over. I reposted the ad on Craigslist. Two other people came and went through the test drive routine. We didn’t make any deal on the spot because they were still shopping and comparing with other cars. Finally one of them called me back saying mine was the best she saw. We haggled a little bit on the price and struck a deal at $7,800, about 2% below the Blue Book Private Party Value. Insisting on the full Blue Book value probably isn’t wise because the buyers would want to think they got a deal. I’m not interested in selling my car cheap either. So 2% below seems to be fair to both parties.

Now I need to finally close the deal. To be continued in the next post.

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