Expert Car Advice

HOW TO SELL a used car in Ottawa, ON

Because I just picked up my C43, that meant that I needed to sell my 2012 Infiniti G37x.  I wanted to sell it fast and to get fair money for my car.  I think those goals are shared by just about everyone who’s looking to sell their car privately – they want to sell it quick, keep costs manageable, and get fair money for their used car.

There’s a right way to sell cars and a wrong way.  This goes for new cars, used cars, wholesale cars, scrap cars – just about any sort of cars.  Used cars have always kind of been my thing, so I’m going to work up a few guidelines here that may be useful to someone looking to sell their car in 2017 and want to do it the right way.

  • DO YOUR RESEARCH.  Before I went to list my 2012 G37x online, I went on Autotrader.ca and looked at what these things are going for.  So first off, I searched for 2011 – 2013 G37x sedans.  Then, since my car had about 54,000 kms, I narrowed the search to 2012 G37x’s with between 45,000 – 65,000 kms.  This showed me about 30 cars.  That’s a perfect sample size.  Anything over 75-80 cars is way too many search results.  Anything under 10 isn’t ideal either.  Somewhere in the 20-40 range is perfect, you want to get a good look at what cars like yours are selling for – that’s the metric you’re going to use to price your car for a quick sale.
  • YOUR PRICE NEEDS TO MAKE SENSE.  Every car has a selling point.  Some are the lowest price, some are the lowest km’s, some have a rare colour combo – every car has *something* going for it.  You want to be able to clearly answer the question, “Why should someone buy MY car instead of the one next to it?”  Your asking price needs to directly match your car’s condition and what it offers, relative to other cars of similar year and mileage.
  • PROPERLY PREPARE YOUR CAR FOR SALE.  Do not show your car in anything less than the exact condition you intend the next owner to pick it up in.  In my case for my Infiniti, I had it fully detailed inside and out, with buffing done, compounding done, paint sealant, everything.  I tried to make it look, feel and smell as new as possible, and I took pictures directly after the car was done being cleaned.  This is incredibly important to succeed with the next tip, because you want to…
  • STICK TO YOUR ASKING PRICE.  If you put the time in to research directly competitive cars, and your price you listed it for sale at represents good value, then stick to your guns.  You don’t need to waste time haggling about price when you invested time to clean your car, advertise it properly and priced it fairly.  Discounting more than $1,000 on a private sale means you didn’t price the car correctly in the first place.
  • And finally, above all BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF through this process.  If your car is beat up, you need to be priced cheaper.  If there’s literally 400 similar cars like yours, with no options in the car and the same kms, you need to be priced cheaper.  If you have accidents on the car, you need to be priced cheaper.  If you didn’t take good photos, if you didn’t clean the car, if you trying to sell the car ‘as-is,’ well, you need to be priced cheaper.  90% of all your problems trying to sell a car fast is either a) You’re not being honest with yourself about what it’s worth, or b) You didn’t put a real effort in to clean it up and advertise it properly.

That’s the main points for sure.  You stick to a simple strategy of a) clean car and make it nice for sale, and then b) price it correctly, that’s literally the whole formula.  There’s 10,000 other ways to improve your chances and build more value in your car, but that’s the nuts and bolts to it.  It’s not rocket science at all.

BUT, if you’re looking to become an expert here, I can offer a couple of other small tips to consider as you go through the process of listing your car for sale and selling it well…

  • You’ve got to advertise your used car for sale in multiple places.  Pick the biggest three websites in your area.  For me, it was Auto Trader, Kijiji Autos, and Autocatch.  I duplicated my listing on all three sites.  I also guessed that Trader would be my best bet, so I invested $50 to list my car near the top of the list for the next 60 days.  Small advertising investments like these can really help your used car get proper exposure.
  • If someone lowballs you or offers you something stupid and insulting, your best bet it to ignore it completely.  You can’t turn an idiotic offer into anything meaningful – if this person wanted to work with you on your car, they would have offered something sensible to start with.  Don’t even bother with these losers.
  • Everything you do to simplify the selling process works in your favour and supports your goal of sticking to your asking price.  Bringing cars to meet them in their part of town builds value.  Throwing in your accessories like winter mats builds value.  Communicating with people via their preferred contact method (phone, text, email) builds value.  Being a pleasant person to deal with builds value.  Do these things, make it easy for someone to buy your car.
  • Good pictures means good lighting.  Cellphone cameras are good enough, but never shoot pictures at night, and never shoot pictures with angles where shadows cover the car.  You want large, high resolution, well lit shots.  Make sure 90% of the frame is the car itself, not the background.  Make sure you get shots 360 degrees around the car, get a shot of the exact mileage, and highlight with your photos the top tier options like navigation, rear cameras, upgraded trim or upgraded stereo in the car.  Use 15-20 photos, no more, no less.
  • Write a detailed description, with as much meaningful info as possible.  Exact colour names from the manufacturer (Obsidian Black, Canvasite Blue).  Exact names of options and trim levels.  Original retail price for what it sold for new is awesome to have in there.  Owner history, accident history.  Why you’re selling it.  All of this is excellent to include in your listing and makes you seem like an organized person.  Selling a car is a team effort between buyer and seller.  Be a great teammate!

Hopefully this gives you a solid idea of what you’re trying to do.  If it still seems like a crazy process or you’re having trouble selling your car – reach out to me!  Let me help!  I can get your car appraised both as a trade in and as a retail sale, and give you targeted advice for FREE on how to accomplish your automotive goals.

Literally, please, contact me today if I can help.

~ James  🙂

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