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selling your own car

So I'm on the path to having our new (to us) car! But because I like ADVENTURES I put my little car up on craigslist this week... last time we traded in an old car, the dealer gave us absolute crap for it. And I've had friends confirm to me that yeah, after 100,000 miles, big car dealers really don't care about those cars, they'll go up on auction and it'll be several steps before they find the right home so look up the blue book "trade in" value and just cut in in half. bummer.

OR I could find the right owner for my beloved two-door now, huh?

So I posted it up craigslist, took a photo of it in a neighborhood that's nicer than mine and listed out everything I know in a "compliment sandwich" format... good stuff about the car to start and end the list, "opportunities" in the middle. I'm so corporate! And I've gotten tons of response - lots of calls, texts, there was a nice girl here last night with her boyfriend and they said they were "very interested", one guy this morning told me to "consider it sold" but I have some questions for him before I take down the craigslist ad. I posted the car for the blue book "good condition" price (although there are some things you could debate on the word "good") and it looks like I might actually get it.

I would appreciate tips from the gallery here on how I can avoid getting screwed. I've done some googling but it's tough, you google stuff about used car sales and mostly fine websites that want to sell you used cars, or buy yours, or whatever... just won't give you advice. The things I have learned so far are:

1) In Kansas, the buyer pays their sales tax to the DMV, not to you.

2) Remove your license plates before making the final sale, otherwise every parking ticket the buyer gets in the next X weeks could be yours! They can drive to the DMV with the title you filled out as their proof if they get pulled over.

3) Normal money with online sales obviousness... don't just take a personal check and call it good. one guy is offering paypal, which is interesting except that paypal scalps 3% off the top of my money, kind of a bummer but it all figures into the final price. (update: paypal guy turned out to be mega scammer! so change that thought... only take cash!)

4) Snap a picture of their drivers license if they want to test drive the car, and talk to them to see if they're trustworthy sounding, good luck there.

5) Have a basic buyer agreement that states that the car is sold as-is... I did find one of these templates to download.

So that's where I'm at, let me know if I'm missing any ideas. I'm also pre-approved for our car loan to start shopping this weekend... you know how I've been complaining about getting shit for interest rates on my savings accounts these past few years? Well my car loan rate will be 2.75%! I guess I'm finally seeing the highlight of low interest rates, this is awesome!



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 7th, 2013 01:35 pm (UTC)
I think this all sounds good, except I can't think of any reason to accept anything other than cash.
Mar. 7th, 2013 01:51 pm (UTC)

I think it seems reasonable to ask to be in the car while they test drive it.

As for payment, you could meet at a bank, have them pay you in cash, and give them the car there. (I guess someone else would need to join to drive you home).

Are you buying a new or used car? We bought new because it was the same price basically as a 1 year-old car, and got a 0% interest rate. So if you buy from a dealer you may be able to do better than 2.75%.
Mar. 7th, 2013 02:37 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't take Paypal: there are so many instances where buyers can revoke payment even after it's cleared. No way. Cold hard cash is pretty much the only tender I would feel comfortable accepting (you can even buy one of those bill tester pens from any office supply store). Maybe a cashiers check or money order, but you'd have to take it and deposit it at the bank before handing over the keys.

I think your idea about the buyer agreement/bill of sale is a great one!

Of course I don't think the car loan is a good idea especially if you have substantial savings, but that probably won't stop you. ;)
Mar. 7th, 2013 03:43 pm (UTC)
yeah... in the hours since I posted this entry, paypal guy turned into MEGA SCAMMER. Luckily he was obvious about it.

And I do not have substantial savings... since the purpose of this new car thing is a bigger size, I'd have to get something that's not much newer than my two-door. I did research what I could buy without a loan, just because I was curious. It wasn't good, and I'm not willing to put the new baby in something old with questionable history because of some "expert's" weird philosophy about car loan evilness. Like you've said before, we all have different priorities... mine is a safe place for two baby seats and I'm willing to pay an extra $20/month in interest for the next three years for that safety. I even called the insurance company to find out how much it was going up... not much, I was surprised. So yeah we're getting the loan.
Mar. 7th, 2013 03:55 pm (UTC)
Figures. We got almost scammed on Paypal once (but not on such a large purchase) so I figured it was worth the energy to warn you.

The whole Cash for Clunkers thing just completely decimated the used car market. The high prices are good for you on the selling end, not so good when you want to buy another one to replace it, especially when a lot of used cars are now almost as expensive as buying new from a dealer. I hear ya on wanting a safe vehicle and certainly a 2-door isn't conducive to two car seats in the back.
Mar. 7th, 2013 08:10 pm (UTC)
I think you've covered all the bases. If you take a personal check, you can hold the title on the vehicle until it clears, then take the check straight to THEIR bank and cash it on their account. But really, if they have the cash in their account, the bank will charge them a couple dollars for a bank or cashier's check (they hold the funds out of their account until it goes through) so there's no reason to do a personal check.

Also make sure you get their name, address, and phone number just in case you need it, don't let them drive off with your license plate (a friend of mine is STILL getting tickets for a car her husband sold 3 years ago and has never renewed the registration on, but he left the plates on the car and the current owner has apparently not yet updated the title either).
Mar. 7th, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC)
I've sold all three of my last cars on Craigslist from 2006 - 2010, had 1 bad experience and 2 good ones.

Agree with all five tips you listed, and I even do the following:

2) I insist they bring their own license plate to remove it from my driveway, I do not let them leave my property with my license plate. how they obtain a license plate on their own is their business, not mine.

3) I only take cash. And no "I'll drive the car to the ATM and BRB" moves either.

4) They cannot test drive the car without me in the car, and they can only drive it around the apartment complex, and no further (no actual roads). I sell them "as is" so they have to make that judgement call before ever getting on the road.

5) Obvious: hold the title and don't sign it until all the cash is in your hand!*

(*My one bad experience was my first-- I sold it to a college student, asking price was $1000 but he promised me $1200 if he could pay me $800 now and $400 with his next paycheck in two weeks. I said yes because I felt bad for the college student, he took off with the car and then tried to never pay me, but luckily I held on to the title, so he couldn't register the car, and he couldn't get plates, so he had to come crawling back to pay the $400. Subsequent 2 times I sold, my asking was $1500 and both buyers paid $1200 in cash for them.)
Mar. 7th, 2013 09:29 pm (UTC)
Guide to buying/selling vehicles in Kansas
I have privately bought and sold a handful of vehicles in Kansas. I just emailed you detailed information. Here are the highlights:

1. The other party (seller or buyer) almost never knows what they are doing and/or what paperwork you need. Since I am doing all of the legwork, I make this work to my advantage. Every transaction lists the vehicle AS-IS. If I am buying, the terms allow a several days for a mechanic to inspect the vehicle and allow for a full refund if results of the inspection are unsatisfactory. (The specific number of days can vary by transaction, but is generally between 2 and 7 days, depending on the distance to vehicle and my mechanic's schedule)

2. Have the following ready: Kansas Paper Vehicle Title (or Form TR-39a for transfer of electronic titles), Bill of Sale (provided, should include vehicle sales amount, deposit terms, return terms if any, sales terms stating AS-IS), Kansas TR-11 (I usually complete this, but may not be necessary). (If you are buying and the seller is from out of state, you can usually call your local county vehicle registration office and ask them what other forms they will need.)

3. NEVER accept anything other than CASH. I might consider a USPS money order since I am familiar with their security features, but there are plenty of cash buyers out there. If someone is paying by USPS money order, go to the post office and buy the smallest one you can for about $1 so that you can compare the two and spot fakes.

4. Never include your tag. You'll want to put your tag on your new vehicle. In my experience, the buyer always manages to provide a temporary tag (previous vehicle, borrowed from other vehicle, etc) that they could use when driving to the tag office. Good to know that an endorsed title is sufficient.

5. If someone asks you to list a lower vehicle price on the Title and Bill of Sale (e.g.: $800 instead of $1000), document that the remaining price is payment for your time spent showing the vehicle and/or test driving and is NON-REFUNDABLE. That will CYA and the non-refundable bit is the price they pay for being sleazy. Keep the vehicle price reasonable though (e.g.: near or above trade-in value) to avoid raising red flags.

Contact me if you have other questions.
Mar. 7th, 2013 10:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Guide to buying/selling vehicles in Kansas
these are great tips, and I saw your email too, that's awesome.

also nice to know that you have them fill out both the Kansas bill of sale and your own... I wish the Kansas one had a box to check that says the vehicle is sold AS-IS because that's kinda important! So I've got two that I'll just have, with some duplicate info but it'll get the job done.

And for the world's reference, the TR-12 bill of sale form is here: http://www.ksrevenue.org/forms-dmv.html
Mar. 8th, 2013 05:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Guide to buying/selling vehicles in Kansas
5. Why even participate in this scam?
Mar. 8th, 2013 12:50 pm (UTC)
Hello! I've bought and sold cars in California, New York, and Louisiana. Just wanted to add a few comments:

1. Yup, usually the sales tax is entirely between the buyer and the DMV. Unscrupulous buyers will often ask the seller to write a lower purchase price on the bill of sale so that they won't have to pay as much sales tax. But why would you break the law so that they could cheat on their taxes? Just refuse.

2. In some states (example: California), the license plate stays with the car. In other states (examples: NY, LA, FL) you keep the license plate and are required to return it to the DMV within a fixed length of time. Find out what the process is in your state.

3. Take cash, and only cash. Real cash, like green paper money. Money is handed over at the same time the title and bill of sale are signed. Only after this does the buyer take posession of the vehicle. In California and New York, I completed the transaction (with the seller present) at the DMV. In Louisiana, the buyer and I completed the transaction at a notary public, since it is required in Louisiana that the bill of sale be notarized.

4. Typically you either keep their drivers license while they are test-driving, or go with them on the test drive. I would find it very strange if someone would buy a car without test driving. It's a normal part of the process.

5. There are standard "bill of sales" forms. Use one. Probably you can get one from the AAA. Look around on the internet and you'll find they are all pretty similar.

Regarding craigslist: Two of these sales were arranged through Craigslist. There are oodles of scammers on CL but they are so predictable, they are pretty easy to weed out. From your scammer's first reply, you can already see he is a scammer: the run-on sentences, the strange situation (buying the car as a gift), the assurance that PayPal is safe. All real inquiries will be more sensible, like "Is the car still available? If so, could I come check it out on Saturday morning?"

Edited at 2013-03-08 05:11 pm (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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