Q: Can I do better selling my car on my own or trading it in?
A: Wow, tough call to make. Each situation is of course different; no that’s not the beginning of a cop out... There are so many things to consider; do you owe money on the vehicle, do you have the time to spend showing it to potential buyers, is it clean enough to display and be worth top dollar? There are many more aspects but for the sake of brevity I will only address a few here, most folks these days are wanting to trade long before the loan they took out to pay for it has been paid in full so there is money still owed. Remember that the loan balance is not related to the value of the vehicle itself, almost all of the time vehicles will depreciate at a much faster rate than the loan is paid down by making normal payments. When you bring a vehicle to trade we (dealers) look at many things to assess its value to the dealer, things like Kelly Blue Book, Manhiem Auction reports and others. Some folks look online and see a certain value listed for a vehicle and then expect that the dealer should adhere to that number, most of the time this does not happen. It’s impossible to simply plug in info about your vehicle and get a real number for its value, remembering that real value is only what someone will actually pay the value can only be found after an in person inspection/appraisal. Things looked at include tire wear, dents dings and scratches, interior condition and proper operation of all equipment. It’s very easy to forget the stains on the carpet or that lil ding you got at the supermarket when trying to get a top dollar trade in value, I see it all the time! After the vehicle has been inspected most dealer used car managers will then look at recent auction reports to see what that year, make and model has sold for there. If I see a vehicle just like the one I have just looked at sold for say $10,000.00 last week it’s a tough call to come close to the customer’s request for $15,000.00 trade in value. Kelly is a great source of info but it is info mostly used for loan values when financing vehicles, Kelly does not buy or sell vehicles. Auctions sell vehicles, and that is what a dealer tries to stay in line with in most situations. As the trade in is only one piece of the puzzle often times its best to wait and see the whole picture when all the pieces are put together, do the payments on the new vehicle make sense to you with the trade in amount offered? If they do then that is usually a better thing to look at because after all its what you will be seeing each month!
Selling your vehicle yourself is an option and lots of folks try it. Private sales will generally bring higher sale prices however there are some things to consider. If you still owe on the vehicle can you pay the difference between the loan balance and what you sell the vehicle for? You will have to in order to pay off the loan and get title to the new owner, in this case you can look at what it might cost you out of pocket in cash and what the dealer would roll into your next loan, does a little bit higher payment make more sense than spending money on a car you won’t have any more? Once you decide to sell it most people will advertise it in some way, Auto Trader is a popular option for this as they are probably the most recognized name in used car sales. Is the vehicle ready to show to buyers or is it full of your crap? A really good detail can do wonders for its presentation and actually get better results, can you afford to have it done professionally and can you keep it fairly clean until it sells? Are you ready to answer the phone at all hours and navigate the hundreds of caller’s questions about the miles, condition, tires, radio ect? When a buyer does come to look at it do keep in mind that you’re a car salesperson now and be ready to handle the lower than asking for offers, it’s called negotiating! Just because you slap a price on the window, make it clean and pretty and think it’s worth your price doesn’t mean someone will automatically pay it! Believe me, I KNOW! In the end with some investment of time and effort and maybe even a little cash you can sometimes do better than what a dealer might offer. Then again, now you have to start the whole thing over again when you go out to get your new car! Before you commit to either do your homework, see what similar vehicles are selling for online and also see what the whole sale values are, only then can you see what your options are for yourself and then know what is the best course of action for you. If you are still baffled, email me and I can help!