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Selling your car: How not to get ripped off by potential buyers

Posted on: June 9, 2015 by Platinum Direct

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If you’re looking for the best financing option for your new car, chances are you are getting ready to sell your old vehicle.

There are many ways you can sell a used car. You could choose to go to a large car buying company, or use a part exchange scheme, but many people prefer to use classified ads or auction websites to skip the middleman and find a buyer directly.

Unless you are a natural-born car salesmen, this process can be daunting – inviting a stranger from the internet to your house and handing them the keys can really take people out of their comfort zone.

But it’s okay, you can relax. It doesn’t have to be an awkward or uncomfortable experience. All you need to do is read this guide to dealing with potential buyers and be prepared.


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The Phone Call

After placing an ad online, your first point of contact with a potential buyer will be their initial phone call. First impressions are important, as while you are trying to work out the legitimacy of the buyer, they are making their mind up you too.

Start off by making sure you have a cheat sheet with all the relevant information you may need – km on the clock, the car’s history etc, readily available. This will stop you having to scrabble for words every time you get a call, as well as make you seem more confident and trustworthy.

Make sure you are honest about any wear and tear, scuffs or scratches when asked. You don’t want any points of contention down the line, so it is best to get things out in the open as soon as possible. It also makes you appear more trustworthy to the potential buyer.

Apart from that, just be polite and civil and you should have no problems. Remember, you have the right to sell your car to whomever you chose. If you don’t like the sound of a buyer you can end the proceedings at any point.

When organising a viewing, be accommodating if you can. But if the buyer cannot make it at a time and place that suits you don’t have to go out of your way. Traditionally, the buyer will come to your house to view your car, but you can meet in public or at a friend’s house if you prefer.

Make sure you get a contact number in case you need to clarify your plans, or so you can cancel if another buyer comes along with a better offer. If someone offers to give you any contact details it is usually a good sign that they are a serious buyer.

Many buyers will try and negotiate the price. Don’t feel obligated to lower your asking price, but consider it if you are struggling to find buyers after a reasonable period of time.

The Viewing

You should always be wary when meeting a stranger for the first time. While the majority of interest you get will be genuine, there is a chance that you will encounter people who will attempt to con you or steal your car, or who just want to check out the car’s security systems. This is more likely to happen if you are selling a rare, exotic or valuable car.

If you feel vulnerable, or even just nervous, make sure you let someone know where you are or ask a friend to accompany you for support. Again, you retain the right to deny the sale if you don’t feel comfortable.

Make sure you don’t leave anything of value in your car. When selling, you are advised to clean your car out anyway – a clean car shows the buyer you are serious. Make extra care to remove service records and registration papers.

There is no real reason that the buyer should have to enter your house. You could negotiate over a cup of tea if you feel comfortable doing so, but don’t let anyone wander around your house unsupervised.

The Test Drive

Many buyers will want to test drive the car. You don’t have to give one, but it will help buyers make their decision to buy.

Before handing them the keys, make sure they have an in-date driving license and that your insurance covers third-party costs. There was a recent case in the UK where a seller failed to check that the test driver had proper insurance and was banned from driving after the potential buyer crashed into a tree. Make sure you take proper precautions.

When on the test drive, never leave the buyer unaccompanied in the car with your keys. If you have to get out, turn off the engine and take the keys with you. There are many reported cases of seemingly genuine buyers distracting the seller, luring them out the car and then speeding away into the distance. This is easily avoidable if you are vigilant.

If it all goes well and you are ready to make the sale, don’t hand over the keys without payment being processed. Do not agree to deal that involves receiving payment at a later date after you have handed over the keys.

Make sure you are very clear on the terms of the sale and stick to them. Don’t renegotiate after a deal has been agreed on unless your circumstances change.

Finally, remember the car is yours until you have been paid in full.

All these warnings might make the whole process seem scary, but it is worth remembering that most people are nice, genuine and not intending to scam you. As long you remember our tips, your sale should go smoothly without any hiccups.

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