For most car shoppers, there are several parts to the buying equation. The two biggest are the car itself (which you don’t have too much control over), and the price. The price is where you have all the control—and it’s the single greatest factor that will impact how quickly you sell your car.
One of the first things that draws most people to a particular car for sale is, of course, the car itself. Is it the type, make, or model the buyer is looking for? Color and options that they want? A mileage range they’re comfortable with?
These variables are obviously things you can’t change. But there are several things in this category that you can impact, at least to an extent:
Visual condition There are things like dings and dents, and wheel scuffs, that some people may care about a lot, and others may not—especially on a car that is older, with higher miles. In some cases, it may be worth taking some small measures to address some of these things (e.g., putting some touch-up paint on any chips or scratches.)
If you’re selling a newer or more expensive car, it may be worth going a little further to make it closer to pristine. If it’s in excellent overall condition, for example, but there are one or two small dents, it might make sense to spend a few hundred dollars to have a body shop fix those. It’s hard to justify putting much money into a car you’re about to sell, but buyers are often willing to pay considerably more for a higher-end car in truly excellent condition—so you may want to look into that if you’re selling a car in that category.
Whatever the age or price range of your car, one thing that always helps increase the chances of someone buying it is a good cleaning. If it’s spotless, inside and out, it looks its best. A clean car gives the impression that it’s been well cared for, which is of course very important to most buyers.
Mechanical condition Before selling your car, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s up-to-date on scheduled maintenance— things like oil changes and any other service the manufacturer recommends. It’s also useful to know about things that may need replacing soon, like tires. You certainly don’t need to put new tires on a car you’re about to sell, but you should be ready to discuss it with your potential buyers; you may want to tell them that you’ve priced the car a little lower to account for the fact it will need new tires soon, or to have a counteroffer amount in mind in case they make an offer below your asking price based on the need for new tires.
When you sell your car with TRED, we include a full inspection with one of our ASE-certified mechanic partners, as well as a CARFAX report on its history. These two things tend to make buyers a lot more confident, and willing to pay more for your car, since they know what they’re getting and that they’re not likely to be blindsided by expensive, unforeseen problems if they buy your car.
There’s nothing more frustrating than listing your car for sale and then hearing… nothing. For days, or maybe weeks. You’re ready to sell it because you’re moving, or you need the money, or you have your eye on another car that you’re eager to bring home. If you’re not getting the interest you think your car deserves, and if it’s taking a long time to sell, price is the most likely culprit.
We all want to get top dollar for our car, but it’s important to remember that asking a little less will almost always help it sell much sooner. Otherwise, holding out for that ideal price might mean many extra weeks on the market. Those are weeks you spend waiting. Maybe you don’t hear from any interested buyers. Or maybe you do, but you spend a lot of time showing your car to people who all end up offering considerably less than your asking price. Better to simply price it a little lower and attract a lot more buyers right away—which also increases the chances that someone is going to simply buy it at asking price, without trying to negotiate down.
Sometimes even a relatively small reduction in price can suddenly open up a lot more potential buyers—if you have your car listed at $15,400, for example, and you drop the price to $15,000, it may put you within more buyers’ price range. Because a lot of people use search filters, and if they’ve set a maximum price of $15,000, even if your car is priced at $15,100, they’ll never see it. So whatever amount you list your car at, keep in mind that reducing it by just a few hundred dollars will likely make it show up in a lot more buyers’ searches. And will mean selling it faster, so you can go buy your next car!