Sell Your Car Guide
Best Practice Guide

First, we need to establish a few ground rules. If you are looking to sell your car yourself and not just “trying it out” you need to be meticulous about the next steps outlined in this guide. Don’t worry, you can do this, it just takes certain steps to accomplish.

We want to establish that your best offers and your buyer should be found in the first 30 days of doing everything below. After those 30 days, you will have to significantly reduce your pricing and the car can even start to cost you money; especially if you are using it as your daily driver. In this guide, we share what car dealers do to maximize their profits. We feel if you follow these steps you should get the best value for your vehicle too.

We will cover, in this order:

  1. Determining your asking price

  2. What paperwork you will need and legalities – we’re not attorneys

  3. Reconditioning for the sale

  4. Listing and Merchandising

  5. Demonstrating and Negotiating

1. Determining Your Asking Price

One of the most common mistakes that sellers can make is pricing yourself out of the market and losing precious time. It’s important to point out that the payoff on your vehicle loan has zero bearing on the value in the market. Some people, depending on their situation, will use things like their payoff amount to determine what they price their car for, even though that has no association with the value of the car. That being said, you should search for vehicles (you can use websites, such as or, exactly like yours, in your 100-mile radius or further. This is called competitive set. You will search for the lowest price ones and let that guide your pricing strategy. Keep in mind, the local dealers have powerful warranties, marketing budgets, and other selling points that you will have to compete with; so you want to ensure your pricing is attractive enough.

Another factor to consider when pricing is “time in the market” for your type of car. Just like anything, some cars are more desirable than others. For example: In recent years, we have seen a lift in the desire for crossover vehicles as sedans have taken a decline. Feel free to send us a message at [email protected], if you’d like to find out the time in the market for your specific car.

2. Get Your Paperwork Together First

● Find the title – make sure you know how to fill out this document correctly, your local tax office can usually assist in the proper signing. If you still owe money on your vehicle’s loan, call the bank and ask them how they would suggest getting paid off when it’s time for someone or their

bank to execute payment. Determine how best to transfer ownership. Most of the forms can be downloaded from your DMV website.

● Pay to get a current Carfax or AutoCheck report to show folks interested in your vehicle. You will most likely have to pay around $40 for this.

● Gather all maintenance and repair history you can find.

● Log on to and run your Vehicle Identification Number to determine if you must take it to your local dealership to complete any recalls. The last thing you want is to have your name on the sale of a car that mechanically failed and resulted in someone getting hurt or even worse.

3. Reconditioning For Sale

Ever heard the phrase “it takes money to make money?” Well, it applies here too. You will have to invest time, money and/or sweat equity. You want to avoid giving people ammunition for negotiating your price down, having a fully reconditioned car is leverage in your court.

● Make sure to take care of all mechanical issues.

● Address any cosmetic touch-ups to make sure the car looks its best. The most common indicator of regular maintenance is new tires.

● Pay for a professional detail of the car, an estimate is $150- $300. Having a dirty car will call
into question the maintenance regiment.

So get to work! Scratches, dents, get the junk out of the trunk. You may have to do this more than once, depending on how high you set the price and how long it takes to get potential buyers.

Does it smell weird? You need to pay attention to the details. Consider what a prospective buyer may think as they approach the car and eventually sits down in the driver’s seat. You want that positive perspective to deepen as they imagine it as their own.

4. Listing,Merchandising and Marketing

Now that it is cleaned, maintained and ready for listing, take lots of good photos! Take shots that show the car’s complete sides, front, and back, we like to use all four corners of the outside. Also, for the sake of everyone’s time, show photos of broken or damaged stuff, this eliminates the element of surprise that may result in a lower negotiated price. Please take photos from normal angles, this isn’t the latest car magazine cover.

Where to list, you can utilize multiple places to post your advertisement.

● Craigslist: Be careful of frauds and charlatans!

● Autotrader: Starting at $25 but the good listings can be $100 or more

● EBay Motors: For auction styled listings

5. Demonstrating and Negotiating

Please be careful of who you invite to your home. Time to create new email addresses and phone numbers specifically for this transaction. Yes, you
read right. You don’t want to list your car with your real personal info. Use Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail to get a new email address. Then log on to and apply for a phone number that you can call and text from your phone without using your real number.

Prior to meeting with someone, for your demonstration and test drive, you’ll have to make sure they have adequate insurance to cover them and you in the event they wreck your car while test driving. Second, ask them if they like the car, and how they plan on paying for it. If they are pre-approved, the bank can provide them with a pre-approval letter prior to your meeting. This will also give you the confidence that you are working with a motivated buyer. Pick a safe place, like your local tax office or even better the bank/credit union the money will be coming from.

Negotiation for many is an uncomfortable necessity; our advice, have your homework done. Have your recent competitive set analysis, maintenance receipts, and a justifiable amount in your mind that you are not willing to go below. Now stand strong, if your amount is justifiable then there is no reason to budge, that much. People do like to have the feeling they won, so be prepared to amuse the potential buyer.

Lastly, make sure the buyer is prepared to pay with cash or a cashier’s check, even wired funds is acceptable. You can then sign and date the title if you have it. You’ll want to make a bill of sale that
has the miles, VIN and date of the sale. There is a “release of liability” form in case the buyer goes and robs a bank in your old car.

In the event, you have followed all the steps above and you are over the 30-day mark and wondering where any improvements can be made in your listing, please feel free to call us at 210-265-5783 and we will be more than happy to give you a quick review. Finally, if you are over the 30-day mark and tired of the phone calls, text messages, strangers, and overall selling process you can always upload all the vehicle information on, we will provide you with a guaranteed real cash offer within minutes via text message that’s good for 5 days or 500 miles. Now good luck and we hope for your success.