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Selling a classic car can be considered an art form. It takes planning and effort that involves research and patience. If you’re looking to sell your car at market value, then finding a buyer can may take a lot of time. Just remember this - for every car, there is a buyer. You simply have to tailor your sales pitch to draw in the right kind of buyer. With that being said, here are a few tips to help you sell your classic car.
Prepare your car for the market
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If you’re trying to sell your car at market value, ensure that your vehicle is presented in peak condition. Your car should be in good mechanical order, cleaned thoroughly, and placed in a highly visible location. Is it required to do these things? Of course not, but an excellent presentation goes a long way, and a working vehicle will net you far more on the market than an inoperative scrap heap. Make it as easy as possible for the buyer to say yes.
The better the overall condition of the vehicle, the more obvious little defects will become. Little nicks and scratches may appear to be inconsequential to you, but a serious collector will comb over every inch of the vehicle in search of imperfections. Don't give a potential buyer a reason to talk you down on your asking price.
After making the car as presentable as humanly possible, it’s time to take some pictures for advertisements. Ads can be used to attract auctions and private buyers alike. Only take high-quality photos. Nothing can kill a potential deal quicker than a grainy photo (no matter how pristine your vehicle is). Also, have the documentation for your vehicle gathered in one place. That way if a buyer drives up and makes an offer out of the blue you can quickly complete the transaction.
Setting the price
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When ascertaining the value of any car, look at what similar models are worth. Also, consider these other factors:
- The need to sell: How quickly do you need to sell your vehicle?
- The overall market:Is there a market for your car? Are there people willing to purchase your vehicle?
- The popularity of your vehicle:Is your car a must have or is it average?
- Current market value:What is the market value as of this moment?
- Condition:What state is the car in?
There are two ways you can approach setting up your pricing. If you’re in a rush and know that your vehicle isn’t exactly the rarest and most collectible find, be prepared to price your car close to the market price though it's likely you’ll have to take less than market value to make a deal happen. If your vehicle is a hot seller, you can expect to make profits 10% to 20% above the market price.
Pricing your car effectively requires research and common sense. You can check price guides and auction results for similar vehicles. If it comes down to it and you have no clue what your car is worth, hire a professional appraiser. An appraiser will be able to fill in any knowledge gaps you may have.
Prepare and execute your marketing plan
There are multiple ways in which you can sell your car. Each plan varies, and they carry advantages and disadvantages in equal measure. Moreover, there are four crucial steps you need to take into consideration when preparing to market your vehicle:
- How do you plan on selling your car?
Dealer or broker, online and print advertising, word of mouth, car show or car corral.
- How do you plan on marketing your vehicle?
Where will you advertise? Which auction, broker, dealer, website, or car show will you visit?
- Preparing the appropriate materials
Creating signs, writing ads, and creating online descriptions.
Place your ads, submit online listings, and sign auction or dealer consignment forms.
Dealer vs. Broker
Cosigning your car to a dealer or broker is simple. Just choose the dealer or broker of your choice and grant them an exclusive or non-exclusive right to sell your vehicle. Cost understandably varies, but you can typically negotiate. Before working with anyone, you should understand the differences between dealers and brokers. A dealer typically has a licensed establishment with a location or showroom that’s open for public traffic. Brokers can be viewed more as free agents. They may or may not have a showroom, but often make connections between buyers and sellers. You can think of them as middlemen.
Typically most people who try to sell their vehicles turn to classified advertising. Classified ads come in two categories – online and print. Both methods have proven track records for effectiveness. In today’s highly modernized world, however, online advertising is almost always the better route. Whatever method you choose, be mindful that it isn’t the job of your ad to sell your vehicle. Your ad is only there to pique the interest of your potential lead. It’s your job to convince an interested party to buy your car over the phone or in person. Use your ads to draw interest, and you do the rest.
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Auctions, just like advertising, have been split between live and online events. Online auctions are fairly new. The beauty of holding an auction online is that you can reach a much wider audience of potential buyers. On the other hand, live auctions can be a much more daunting undertaking. Not only do you have to hunt down a good auction company, but you also have to find the right type of auction to attend. Research will be required to find the proper type of auction for your vehicle. Some auctions specialize in muscle cars, others in luxury vehicles, etc. For the purposes of this article, you’ll want to find an auction that specializes in classic cars.
Word of Mouth
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Word of mouth can be a compelling form of advertising. Relatively speaking, the car community is pretty small. Small enough that when something hot pops onto the market, they begin to talk to one another about it. With that thought in mind, you should tell your friends and possibly other car enthusiasts (if you know any) that your vehicle is for sale. Even if your friends aren't interested in buying the car personally, it's likely that they will tell a friend or two. It’s not entirely uncommon for a car to sell from word of mouth when it reaches the right people.
Car Shows and Car Corrals
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One way of showing off a car for sale is to take it to a car show or car corral. In most cases car shows don’t allow vehicles for sale onto the show field, so your best option is to rent a space at a car corral and throw up a “for sale” sign. What makes this action particularly effective is that it allows you to position yourself in front of dozens of potential buyers. It stands to reason that most of the attendees are there due to their love of cars (specifically classic cars in this case), so the likelihood of you finding a potential buyer exponentially increases just by your showing up to the event.
Closing the sale and getting paid
It doesn’t necessarily take a trained salesperson to close a deal. Simply have a conversation with the buyer, and in most cases, the car will sell itself (if you’ve cleaned it up and let the prospect take it for a test drive). The tricky part is agreeing upon a price point that you’re both comfortable with. That may take a bit of savvy on your part to agree upon a price that will make both you and the buyer happy. After the sale has been completed, you'll want to ensure that you receive your money and that the rest of the transaction goes smoothly.
A word of warning
For the most part, car collectors and hobbyists are honest people. They simply wish to indulge in their love of cars at a fair and reasonable price. However, you should always be wary of shady people when you’re negotiating a sale. Some sellers have been cheated with bad checks, tricked through fraud, and robbed at gun point for both the car and title. When selling your classic car, always make sure every inch of the process checks out so you won’t be an unsuspecting victim.
Once you’ve been paid you can shake hands and conclude your business. As you watch your car drive away, you can be confident in your successful transaction. You can now take the money and invest in another classic car to repeat the process all over again! Only this time, you’ll be far more knowledgeable and experienced.