When you sell your car on Craigslist, your goal is to get as much as possible in as little time as possible without breaking the bank. That might sound easy enough, but getting your vehicle to stand out in a sea of listings can feel like an uphill battle. And the longer your car stays on the market, things get a bit more… complicated. We’ve compiled a few strategies and tactics to make sure you get the most out of your car listing on Craigslist.
Have a strategy for re-posting your ad
Craigslist hasn’t changed a whole lot since it was founded in 1995. That means your listing is going to be pushed lower and lower the longer your vehicle goes without being sold. The best hack is simply re-posting your ad, but there’s a catch: If you do it too often you’ll get banned from Craiglist. If you don’t re-post enough your next buyer might never see your ad.
TRED took a look at the data and found the perfect formula for a re-post strategy. There are two main things you need to know:
- Popular vehicles need more attention – There are more listings of Honda Civics, for example, then there are for Bentleys. So, to keep your Honda Civic near the top of the list, you’re going to need to post more frequently.
- Re-post popular models every 6 days for best results – It might seem like a lot, but if your goal is to find a serious buyer fast and sell for as much as possible, it’s worth the legwork.
Sweat the small stuff
More than 80% of all used cars are rated as being in “Fair” condition on a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair and Poor. That means most of what they see on Craigslist has visible signs of wear and tear. This creates an opportunity for you to “wow” potential buyers and stand out from the crowd. But don’t go crazy spending money on getting your car ready to sell. The name of the game here is return on investment. You don’t want to spend money on an expensive fix unless you’re confident you’re going to get it back. Your best bet is to focus on the cosmetic fixes you can make inexpensively. If you can spend $500 and get an extra $2,000 on the sale, it was money and time well spent.
A good rule to follow is to focus on fixing the things that you can do yourself. If you can buy the solution at an AutoZone, you’re on the right track. If done right, you can take your car from “fair” to “good” condition in a snap.
Focus on these areas for best results:
- Overall – The first thing you should do is get your car detailed. Don’t scrimp on the polish or the carpet shampoo. Potential buyers may be buying a used car, but they still want the excitement of that new car look and smell.
- Exterior – A ding here or a scratch there are common blemishes that might not seem like a big deal to you, but to potential buyers it could be a red flag. If you aren’t afraid to roll up your sleeves and apply a little elbow grease, there are plenty of DIY hacks for fixing scratches or dents.
- Interior – The two biggest bangs for your buck on the inside of your car include dying the carpets and fixing any rips or tears in your upholstery. Similar to minor blemishes on the outside of your car, first impressions on the interior are also important.
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- Engine – Nothing dulls the shine of a beautiful interior and exterior like a dirty or unkempt engine. When a buyer pops the hood, they want to be reaffirmed that this is a good investment and will run for a long time. Cleaning your engine doesn’t take a lot of time and bumps up the perceived value of your car significantly.
Think outside the box with your photography
First thing’s first – forget your iPhone. Even though camera phones are getting better and better, they still don’t match a DSLR or mirrorless camera when it comes to shooting under a wide range of conditions. This is particularly important when the weather is less than ideal and lighting isn’t always perfect.
Now that you found the right camera for the job, get the most out of it. Buyers want to be confident that it’s worth their time to schedule a test drive so more photos are always better, especially if you’re taking the right photos. In fact, according to eBay Motors the magic number for photo-taking is about 40. Among those 40 photos make sure you include the interior, exterior, shots of your engine, trunk and wheels. Remember, your goal is to stand out from the crowd so try to be original with your presentation. Here are more ideas to make your Craigslist ad pop.
Write the perfect description to sell your car fast
Great pictures might hook a buyer, but it takes a smart description to reel them in. The first thing you need to accomplish is to include all of the relevant information that a buyer is going to be looking for:
- Vehicle’s condition
- History of accidents
- Recent repairs
- VIN number
- Number of owners
Next, you need to use this opportunity to make potential buyers feel like this is the car for them. Avoid using words with negative connotations like “high-mileage” or “wear and tear”. Instead, focus on the benefits and lifestyle fit for the car. Is your vehicle a popular family car? Emphasize the spacious backseat and legroom for those long road trips. Selling during the winter months? That’s a great opportunity to mention the peace of mind that 4WD gives you when traveling over Snoqualmie Pass.
Reply to inquiries fast
People spend an average of about 9 hours researching their next purchase online. If they land upon your listing during their research, you need to strike while the iron is hot. Have a system in place for scheduling your test drives and try to be as accommodating as possible. The decision to purchase a vehicle is made with a person’s heart as much as their head. Following up quickly with a test drive allows you to harness a buyer’s excitement and gives you more bargaining power. It also keeps a buyer from moving on or losing interest.
Sell before the value drops
There are certain points in a vehicle’s lifecycle where value drops significantly. If you’re approaching the 40,000, 70,000 or 100,000 mile mark on the odometer, you may want to limit your mileage so that your car’s valuation doesn’t take a hit right before it goes on the market.
Use a service that manages your listing for you
With TRED, we manage listing your car on Craigslist and dozens of other sites like Craigslist. Not only do we save you time listing and re-listing your ad every week, we even manage the test drives so you don’t have to meet some stranger in the Safeway parking lot that may or may not make an offer. If you’re serious about selling your car and maximizing your profit, get started now.