The first step and probably the most essential step in trying to sell your car is to make sure it is prepared to the highest standard and has all the relevant paperwork so that when a potential buyer comes to view it you have everything to hand that that will want to see. Items such as the cars log book “V5”, handbooks, service history and MOT documents are all things that a buyer is definitely going to want to see.
Also if you are car is currently under any form of secured finance arrangement ie: a conditional sale agreement this will need to be cleared before legal entitlement can be passed to the new owner. There are ways this can be dealt with without you having to necessarily pay any outstanding payments before you have sold your car and received payment but we will talk about this a little later down in this guide.
So now you hopefully have all the required paperwork in place you need to make sure the car is in top presentable condition. The best possible frame of mind here is to make your car look like it would if you were again buying it. Tiny little details can make a huge difference here because you need to make sure that your car is that little bit better than any other car a potential buyer might be looking at so don’t skip on the little details.
Preparing your car for sale (Cleaning)
Preparation is the key to selling any item. People love to see something looking great and this is where first impressions make a huge difference. Imagine going to two car dealerships both with identical cars, one is covered in dust, has dirty seats etc and the other is gleaming with not a mark inside… which one would draw your attention?
You have to remember that things such as the cleanliness of your car are all psychological things that buyers will pick up on even if you are looking at part exchange. If you were to take your car to one dealership covered in mud and dirty and then take it to another all gleaming and looking great I can bet that the second dealership would be willing to pay more money for it. Bottom line, first impressions last and are very important.
If you do heed my advice you need to make sure you treat your car to a proper clean, not just a run through the local car wash. This means a professional valet which will include detailing and waxing the bodywork. This will make sure that your car looks absolutely great in any photographs you might need to take if selling online and if you are part exchanging, will impress any dealerships vehicle appraiser and will in nearly all cases gain you more money than what you will be spending on the clean.
Before you spend either your time or money having your car properly valeted it is worth while taking the time to repair any marks to the vehicles bodywork. You might think that this is going to cost the earth but in fact things like scratches and dents can be repaired relatively cheap with what the motor trade call “smart repairs”. A smart repair is different to having to take your vehicle to a body shop in the fact that the repairer will repair just the local area of the damage instead of the whole panel, obviously making things cheaper. Many motor dealers use “smart repairers” and the job most can do is fantastic and most people would probably not know the difference between a “smart repair” or taking the car to a professional body shop. A quick search on Google for “vehicle smart repairs” should help you find a local repairer and the cost will nearly always be irrelevant when taking into account the extra cost you should achieve with your vehicle looking immaculate.
MOT & Servicing
One of the first questions a potential buyer of your car will ask if the car is over 3 years old is “how long is the MOT?”. It makes sense to give your car a fresh MOT before selling for two reasons, the first being that it will make the car far more desirable to buyers and the second, it will help you avoid any potential and unforeseen costs should the buyer agree to buy your car but only if you put a new MOT on the vehicle before he or she collects. Another thing most serious buyers will be looking at is when the car was last serviced. If the car hasn’t been serviced for over a year then it is highly likely that the buyer is going to use this against you in negotiation so it is probably worth while you at least having a small service carried out on the car to eliminate this situation.
Do you have Finance outstanding?
If you vehicle still has finance outstanding and you wish to sell it then you will have to make sure that the finance arrangement is settled before you conclude any sale. You will need to contact the finance company and ask for the latest “settlement figure”, most people will probably find this figure too high to settle before receiving funds from the vehicle sale so one way around this is for the buyer to transfer the settlement figure directly to the finance company and pay you the difference.
So you have prepared the car, cleaned it, serviced it and it’s got a nice long MOT but how do you know how much you should try to sell it for? Well this isn’t as easy as a lot of car magazines and so called “valuation guides” might make out. There are so many factors to take into account when valuing a vehicle, location, colour and history are all things that price guides do not take into account and I have always said ultimately your car is worth what someone is prepared to write a cheque out for it. Below are a number of different web links you can visit to help you research what you might want to advertise your car for but please remember that car values change every month as new guides become available to the trade and although car prices can sometimes go up, this is quite rare and nine times out of ten the go down so hanging on a month to gain that extra one hundred pounds you are wanting could end up being a false economy.
Glass's Guide - www.glass.co.uk
Glass’s guide has been around for over 75 years and is one of the most respected valuation companies in the motor trade. Motor dealers subscribe to a monthly subscription either in book format or software and this confidential pricing information is only available to the trade although glass’s do allow members of the public to check the average value of your car online at their website.
CAP - www.cap.co.uk
CAP (Current Auction Price) was founded in 1979 and has been serving clients across the automotive sector ever since. Similar to glass’s guide motor dealers subscribe to a monthly publication or online access for valuations and recently CAP launched CAP VA (Valuation Anywhere) which allows dealers to receive live vehicle valuation data. Unfortunately CAP do not provide any valuation data to the public but you can obtain a valuation via www.autotrader.co.uk for a small fee which does utilise their data.
WhatCar - www.whatcar.com
WhatCar provide a valuation facility on their website which bases valuations on average sales prices. This may give you an indication as to what a car might be worth but the data is not in alignment with what the motor trade use so you may find there is a difference between what WhatCar value your vehicle at and what an actual dealer will think it is worth
Car buying companies have become extremely popular in recent years as they offer a quick method of selling your car without the hassle of selling privately and will buy any car. There is a downside to using one of these services and that is that they will purchase cars below average price to sell the car on, usually via auction for a quick profit. Probably the most well-known car buying service in the UK at the moment is We Buy Any Car (www.webuyanycar.com). Most of these sites will give you an immediate offer to buy your car but it is worth doing some research into the likelihood of you receiving this offer as there has been a lot of bad press recently with some companies apparently only honouring 1 out of 25 of the original offer made online.
So after doing your research into what price you should be hoping to achieve for your car you will have to decide how you are going to sell it. The two main options here if you aren’t looking at part exchange will be to sell the car privately or to sell it to a car buying company or motor dealer.
Selling your car privately
Selling your car privately will usually get you the strongest price but it can take some time and you obviously do need to take into account costs if you are going to pay for advertising and also factor in that the longer you have the car for sale the more chance you have of it actually dropping in price as new valuation data is available each month.
Autotrader has one of the biggest UK audiences online and also has a publication that is available in all good newsagents. There are various different advertising packages available and we would recommend the Web Only offer as this will give you six weeks online for £56 and the majority of people now will be searching via the website rather than going out and having to buy the magazine. When listing your vehicle it is important that you give as much information about your car as possible inparticurly things like service history and MOT. You should also add as many photographs of the car as possible making sure to include interior shots as well as exterior. Another good bit of advice here would be to try and make sure that the photos are in an open area such as a car park with little else to distract the viewer.
eBay has become popular over the last 5 years when it comes to selling cars and there are a number of different ways you can advertise your vehicle including Fixed Price, Auction and Make an Offer. The fixed price option is exactly as you would think, similar to autotrader you simply enter the price you are wanting for the car and the listing will go live with any negotiation on price having to be dealt with between you and the buyer via the ask a question form or telephone if you have listed a contact number. An auction listing allows you to set a starting price and then add a reserve figure if you wish. This is where things get a little more complicated. Setting a low starting price will gather more interest in your vehicle as everybody is looking for a bargain but you will need to set a reserve price (the minimum you are willing to accept) and the vehicle will not be sold unless it reaches at least this figure.
What you will find a lot of the time is that as the price increases interest decreases hence it is important to be realistic with your reserve price as you will be being charged every time you list the vehicle even if it doesn’t sell.
The other option is the “make an offer” listing. Using this option you can enter a price for your car and potential buyers can make you a counter offer. You can set the listing to automatically accept an offer over a certain figure as well as automatically reject an offer below a certain figure.
Car Buying Websites and Dealers
As mentioned previously there are a lot of car buying websites and companies now that will make you an offer to buy your car instantly online. Now these offers are based on computer software without any human interaction and this is probably why a lot of these companies have had bad press and even trading standards involved with regard to them not honouring the offers that are originally made online. The other thing to remember is that these companies will in most cases be buying your car to immediately sell on via an auction for a quick profit so you can expect to receive a below average figure.
One thing you could do to keep the price of your car as strong as possible but still benefit from a quick sale would be to sell your car to a dealer. A lot of dealers purchase cars from auction houses, in fact a lot of the cars they will purchase from auctions have probably been put through by a car buying company, so if you can go direct to the dealer you will be able to keep the profit margin the car buying companies have taken in your pocket. The only down side of finding a dealer interested in your car is the time and work involved. You could spend hours phoning around or visiting different dealers across the country or locally to find the best buyer.
In 2008 we launched a whole new website of its type called dealerbid.co.uk that allows private sellers to offer their cars to hundreds of different dealers not just locally but across the country by completing one quick online form. Now this website won’t give you an instant offer as there is no software being used here to value your car, instead it broadcasts your vehicle information to interested dealers who will contact you direct with their offers via the site or email / phone if you have added these contact details. You are under no obligation to accept any offer but what you will find in most cases is that because you are going direct to dealers you should obtain more than a traditional car buying website.
This is probably one of the biggest concerns for anybody selling a car, especially with the many scams usually from abroad that are rife via sites like autotrader and eBay. The bottom line here is to not part with your car or any paperwork until you have cleared funds. And cleared funds does not mean a bankers draft.
If you have agreed a sale with a private buyer then the safest method for payment would either be a direct bank transfer which you can confirm cleared with your bank or cash. Cheques should obviously not be taken unless there is adequate time for clearance before you part with the car and you should ask for id if this is the case to make sure that the cheque isn’t stolen.
A bankers draft used to be popular some years back but now with nearly everybody banking online this is slowly starting to disappear. A bankers draft is pretty much the same as a cheque but the draft is written out by the bank and they guarantee the funds. However there have been a lot of cases of forged drafts so if your buyer does insist on this method of payment you should go with them to the bank and see yourself that it has been presented by the bank and is genuine.
Completing the relevant paperwork when you sell your car is important to make sure transfer of ownership is done legally and also to prevent you receiving any nasty surprises such as parking fines, speeding tickets and road tax payments.
The V5 (logbook) should be completed with the new owners details added into section 6 and this should be signed at the bottom. The green section of the logbook should be completed, signed and given to the new keeper and the rest of the v5 document should then be sent to DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1AL. The new keeper will receive a new V5 with their details on in around 4-6 weeks and the small green slip is their proof of ownership should they need to produce any documents prior to this arriving.
If you are selling the car to a dealer things are a little different. Because the dealer won’t be registering the car in their name you simply need to sign and date the bottom of the V5 as per above but this time also complete the small yellow section which asks for the business name and address of the dealer you are selling, sign and date this and again send to Swansea at the same address above. This tells them that the car has gone into a dealership, you no longer have the vehicle and are no longer responsible for it.