15 April 2015

10 Craigslist Dos and Don'ts for Selling Cars

It seems like everyone has an opinion about Craigslist, the popular website for buying and selling. You either love it or hate it. I'm in the love it camp. It's free, easy to use, and is accessed by millions of people everyday (60 million per month in the US alone). Sure, you can find scammers and shady people on the site, but that's the exception rather than the rule. The overwhelming majority of craigslist users are honest and trustworthy.

I've been a steady Craigslist user for nearly 10 years now and have sold and bought countless items on it, including a dozen RV's and cars. After the recent sale of my 2011 Jeep Compass and the purchase of a 1998 Jeep Wrangler, I thought I would present my thoughts on what works and doesn't work when selling a vehicle on Craigslist--the dos and don'ts. This advice is needed because it's obvious that some are clueless and have no idea what they're doing. Fortunately, being good at selling on Craigslist isn't rocket science, but it does take a little effort to prepare an effective ad that will get the attention of prospective buyers and gain their trust. While the main focus is on selling cars and trucks these tips are equally applicable to selling RV's. So without any further adieu, here are my 10 dos and don'ts for selling a car and truck on Craigslist.

1. Do provide meaningful photographs. 

I've lost count on how many ads I've seen that have no pictures or just one or two exterior shots of the car and that's it. Nearly everyone nowadays has a smartphone with an HD camera. Use it and take several exterior pictures of the vehicle and don't forget to take a few of the interior as well. In addition, get a pic of the odometer reading (buyers like to see proof that what you're saying about the mileage is truthful). Be sure to snap pics of any damage. Oh, and please ensure that the photos you choose are clear with good lighting and are presented professionally in your ad (not sideways or upside down. Yep, this is pretty common).

2. Do list your vehicle for a fair price.

What's a fair price? Go to one of the car appraisal websites like Kelley Blue Book, NADA, or Edmunds and get one. If you don't take the time to perform this simple step then you probably won't be able to sell your car. One guy who lives here in Phoenix is currently asking $4,000 more for his Jeep than the current Blue Book price. That's insane. Guys (and gals) who do this are probably the same ones who wonder why their car hasn't sold after having it listed for over two months. Hello! Nobody is going to pay over the blue book price for any car unless it's in unbelievable condition and loaded with options and extras.

3. Do provide a detailed write-up.

I often come across ads that provide only a brief sentence about the car and that's it. Buyers want to see information that will help them weed out the good cars from the bad. You don't have to write a book, but it does help when sellers provide a good paragraph of information about the car's features and history. Oh, and use the data fields that Craigslist provides for selling cars. These fields provide valuable info like year, mileage, condition, and number of cylinders, and are used extensively by prospective buyers when conducting vehicle searches.

4. Do detail your vehicle.

Several years ago my wife and I looked at a filthy, unkept car that still had fast food wrappers and old french fries on the backseat floor. It was obvious the car wasn't touched before the fool showed it to us. Needless to say, we passed on that car. Oh, and the Jeep I bought last week wasn't detailed either. It had bird crap on the hood and dog hair still embedded in the carpet. I was able to look past these annoyances to see the positives, but there's no doubt I would've paid a little more if the guy took the time to make the Jeep more presentable.

5. Do provide good contact info.

Believe it or not, I've seen ads with no contact info listed. Hello! Nobody can respond to your ad without a phone number or email address! And if you're one of these sellers who only does business via email, answer your frickin email. There's nothing more annoying that those who don't respond to their email or take 2 days to get any kind of response.

6. Do provide an asking price.

You would think this is a no brainer, but there's a Jeep ad currently running here in Phoenix that is asking only for offers. There is no asking price. The ads states that the owner had invested over $34,000 total in his Jeep. Prospective buyers are left to guess on a price and nobody wants to play a guessing and waiting game. His ad is still up over one month. Needless to say, I didn't provide an offer and told the guy good luck trying to sell his Jeep that way.

7. Don't list your Salvage titled vehicle at or near Blue Book. 

This goes hand-in-hand with #2. I get tired of morons with Salvage or Rebuilt titled cars trying to get $1000 below Blue Book claiming it's a great deal. IT'S NOT! According to Consumer Reports, cars with Salvage or Rebuilt titles are worth 50% of Blue Book and sometimes less. Unless you're mechanically inclined and plan on keeping the car forever, I would stay away from vehicles with Salvage and Rebuilt titles. There's simply no way of knowing with complete certainty what damage was done to them. Insuring them can also be a royal pain.

8. Don't lie or be misleading about problems with your vehicle.

If there are problems with the car, state them in your ad. People appreciate honesty. One Jeep I recently looked at had body damage that wasn't stated anywhere in the ad or in the photographs that were posted (unbelievably, the condition of this Jeep was listed as excellent in the ad). If I knew about this damage ahead of time I wouldn't have wasted two hours of driving time and gas to go out and look at it. Right then and there I knew this wasn't a guy who I trusted or wanted to do business with.

9. Don't sell your vehicle out from another buyer.

I hear about this happening all the time. Sure, first come, first served applies, but be considerate to those who may be traveling a long way to buy your item. This situation was presented to me several years ago when I was selling a travel trailer to a guy from Salt Lake City, a 650 mile drive. While he was on his way to Phoenix, I had another guy in New Mexico offer me $500 dollars more if I would sell it to him. Needless to say, I told the guy, no, and that I wasn't going to screw the other guy over. 

10. Don't leave your Craigslist ad online after you've sold your vehicle.

There's nothing more irritating than finding out the vehicle that you got excited about was actually sold. It only takes a few seconds and a couple clicks to delete your ad. Enough said.

Those are my 10 dos and don'ts for selling a car or truck on Craigslist. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with anything I said in this list? Let me know.