Car series: Private selling guide

You’ve found the perfect car for your next upgrade, but what are you going to do with your old car? If you want to get a great price, minimise stress and make sure you tick all the compliance boxes, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.

This step-by-step selling guide outlines what you need to do to sell your car, and the strategies that could help you get a great price for your pre-loved vehicle.

Ways to sell your car

There are four ways to sell a used car. You can do a trade-in with a dealership, have an auction house auction off your car, or sell on consignment, for example through a dealer. While convenient, these three options generally don’t give you the best price, largely because there’s a third-party dealing with everything on your behalf.

The other option is private sale. This option will most likely give you the best price because there is no middleman between you and the buyer. However, this means you’ll be the one answering queries, negotiating, and dealing with the paperwork.

This page will help you negotiate the private sale of your car.

Get your car ready for sale

There are a few tricks you can use to get your car looking good for sale. That glossy, polished, and ultra-clean look is what people mean when they talk about ‘curb appeal’. With curb appeal, you’ll attract more interested leads, and your buyer is more likely to pay more for your car.

You can achieve that curb-appeal look by washing and vacuuming your car to a professional standard, or having it detailed by a professional (especially if the paint job is looking a little tired). Check for any dents you aren’t repairing for the sale, and note these down in your ad. Use a tyre gloss product and inflate the tyres to the right pressure to make them look newer, and polish the windows, mirrors, leather seats, and all other surfaces.

Lastly, remove all personal items, and get your log book and manuals together so you can show prospective buyers. If your car is close to a servicing date, consider doing it before the sale as this will give the buyer extra confirmation there’s nothing wrong with the car.

Advertising

Now you’ve got your car looking as good as possible, it’s time to explore your advertising options so you can start attracting prospective buyers. Online advertising will probably be your best resource, but if you think you can effectively advertise your sale through other means – such as social media, print advertising, message boards, or even a sign in your window – don’t hesitate to promote your vehicle through these channels.

Find websites

Shortlist the top car-sales classifieds sites that suit the type of car you’re selling. An easy way to find out if the site is suitable is to check the current listings to see if there are any similar vehicles. Do some research to find more about the site, its reputation, and other sellers’ experience selling through it. Usually you’ll have to pay a fee to list your car.

Take photos

Shoot early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the light is less harsh. Provide front, back, and side views. Be upfront about any dents, and do close-ups of any damage. It’s better to have the buyer in the know from the start, and avoid wasted time with inspections.

Write your description

The site will usually prompt you for details, including year and model, so make sure you have these ready. Provide as much detail as possible, and add special conditions such as ‘must sell’ (which suggests you’re happy to sell quickly without top price) or OBO (‘or best offer’). Keep your description concise and to the point.

Asking price

You’ll probably provide a price range, or a negotiable upper limit price (perhaps 10% above what you’d like to get for the car). Whatever your asking price, make sure it’s realistic so you’re not wasting anyone’s time. Take into account what similar cars are going for right now, and list the relevant details (such as extras) if you’re selling above market price. Whether your car is a family sedan, convertible, truck, or collector’s item, make sure you’re as educated as your prospective buyers about the pricing.

There are several great online resources that can help you value your car and set a fair asking price. Redbook, Cars Guide and Drive all offer free valuating services to help you on your way.

Avoiding scams and fraud

Follow the listing site’s guidelines for avoiding scams and fraud, and use common sense to identify any fraudulent buyers. Email scams are not unheard of, so avoid clicking on links in emails, and log in by typing the URL in your browser instead.

If the buyer’s offer is too good to be true, it could be. Take basic precautions, such as screening buyers on the phone before arranging an inspection in person.

Dealing with the buyer

You’ll need to interact with the buyer at different stage, so be prepared to negotiate and answer any questions they have.

Accessibility

Make sure you’re available on the number you provide to prospective buyers at all reasonable hours.

Test drive

Arrange for the viewing and test drive away from your home wherever possible (such as at a local car park), and be ready to answer any questions the prospective buyer might have. The buyer will want to see logbooks, proof of ownership, and other documentation.

Check the buyer’s licence before they do a test drive, and ask for a second form of ID if you’d prefer.

Always accompany them in the car, and check your insurance regulations to make sure you’ll be covered during the test drive.

Negotiation

If the buyer is interested after the test drive, they’ll usually want their mechanic to check out your car, which you’ll probably want to accommodate. If their mechanic finds a list of issues, it is up to you whether you want to negotiate based on their mechanic’s opinion.

As long as you’re aware of the fair market price for your car, you can probably work with the buyer to find an agreeable price.

Payment methods

Cash and bank transfer (as long as payments clear before pick-up) are the safer payment options. Don’t accept any payment method you’re unfamiliar with, and be firm about accepted payment methods.

Finalising the sale

Be aware of all your responsibilities as a seller, as these are quite specific and will differ from state to state.

NSW

  • You’ll need to make sure the registration is transferred according to the law, and notify the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) by lodging a notice of disposal.
  • Additionally, you’re obligated to give the buyer the current certificate of registration, and a valid roadworthiness inspection report.1

Victoria

  • An Application for Transfer of Registration and a Certificate of Roadworthiness must be completed and submitted to Vic Roads within 14 days of the transfer.

Queensland

  • Before advertising your car you will need to obtain a Safety Certificate from an authorised inspection station stating your car is road worthy and safe to drive.
  • If your car uses gas, you will also need to get a Gas Inspection Certificate. Once you find a purchaser, you need to fill out Part B of a Vehicle Registration Transfer Application (F3520).

Tasmania

  • Fully complete a Notice of Disposal Form issued from the State Department of Transport, fill in the disposal section and return to the transport department. This must be completed within 7 days of the ownership transfer.

ACT

  • The ACT Government supplies Notice of Disposal and Application to Transfer Vehicle Registration forms, which must be complete and submitted by you and the buyer within 14 days of their purchase.

Northern Territory

  • You are required to supply the buyer with up-to-date registration forms, which include a transfer of ownership section. You must sign and date this.
  • The buyer needs to submit these registration papers to the Northern Territory Motor Vehicle Registry within 14 days of the purchase.

South Australia

  • On the back of the car’s current registration certificate is a section dedicated to transferring vehicle ownership. Both the buyer and seller must complete and sign this section.
  • It is the buyer’s responsibility to submit this application to a South Australia Customer Service Centre or through EzyReg within 14 days of purchase.

Western Australia

  • You must advise the Western Australia Department of Transport within 14 days of the ownership transfer. You can do this online using DoTDirect or by completing Form MR9 – Notification of Change of Ownership and mailing this to the Department of Transport.
  • You’ll need to provide the seller with a signed receipt at some stage. Make sure you specify all the relevant details – including the odometer reading – on the receipt, and include the car is being sold as is, without warranty (if that’s the case).
  • Keep a copy of the receipt for yourself. And if you have any doubts, always seek advice from a lawyer.

Car insurance

Ensure before you hand over the keys that your insurance company has been notified of the sale. This way if the new owner is involved in a car accident or damages another person’s property you are not liable for their actions or any damage. To notify Real Car Insurance of a change of ownership for any vehicles on your car insurance policy, please call 13 19 48.

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