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I sold a car on Craigslist this week and wanted to pass along what I learned.  Here are 10 tips for how to sell your car quickly and efficiently:

(1) The easiest way to put together the text for your Craigslist add is to search for the specs for your car model on a site like Edmunds.  You can wrack your brain trying to remember what features your car has that you take for granted (anti-lock brakes?  a 6 CD changer? automatic windows?), or you can use the Google.

(2) Craigslist allows you to post up to 4 photos.  I suggest a side view, front view, view of the dashboard, and then view of the backseat.  I would post them in that order since the side view is probably the most instructive.  You’ll want to save 2 versions of your photos: high resolution and low resolution.  The low resolution photos are faster to load on Craigslist and will load more quickly for most viewers.  However, some potential buyers will request the higher resolution photos, so you’ll want to keep those on hand.

(3) You can put something like “serious offers only” in your ad to try to weed out people who are just  bored.  It probably won’t help.

(4) Collect some of the basic information that people will ask you about the car and save it in an email draft.  Then you don’t have to take much time when you respond to their emails.  People will ask about the VIN so they can check carfax.  They’ll ask about your mileage on the highway and in the city and whether your car has ever been in an accident.  The more intrepid and curious may even ask how long you’ve had your tires and how many more miles they should be good for.

(5) When you set the price, ask for about $1000 more than you actually want.  This gives you some room to lower the price if the person wants to negotiate, and who knows?  Maybe some poor schmuck will actually pay you that much.  If people email you asking for your absolute bottom-line price (and they will), you can say, “We’re asking for $price-on-Craiglist, but we’re open to serious offers.”  This doesn’t really mean anything, but puts the ball back in their court to tell you how much they want to offer.  You should not be the first to drop the price – they need to tell you how much they want to pay.

(6) When people ask to see the car, if you live in an apartment complex, you don’t need to give them your apartment number.  We have this invention called the telephone, so there is no need for people to know which apartment is actually yours. They can just meet you outside your building.  (I automatically sent 2 people my specific apartment number before it occurred to me that I don’t need to give strangers that information.  Sad, but true.)

(7) If they want to test drive the car, and you are female, I recommend having a guy around.  Some people on Craigslist are crazy.  If you are a WASPy American, I recommend having someone who comes from a culture that negotiates prices around.  You’ll need the back-up.  In fact, maybe you just shouldn’t talk and you should let your non-WASPy friend take the lead.

(8) About 10 people will ask to see your car, get your address, and find out what time you will be available, for every 1 person who actually comes.  Don’t plan your schedule around selling the car.  Just tell people times you will naturally be home or you’ll make yourself nuts over the no-shows.

(9) When someone decides to buy the car, ask for cash or a cashier’s check.  If they are going to give you a cashier’s check, go to the bank with them to watch them get the check.  Alternatively, call the bank that issued the check and verify that it’s a valid check before you hand over the keys.  Cashier’s checks can be faked.

(10) You’ll need to remove the license plates from the car.  If you really like the person, you can leave the plates on and have the person go to the DMV and transfer the plates to their name.  If you go this route, you should call the DMV and verify that it’s been done.  Don’t forget to take the car off of your car insurance!

 

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