When the time comes to sell your prized possession, it’s only natural to want to get as much of your investment back as possible. While it may appear that there isn’t much you can do to improve a car’s resale value, this isn’t always the case. There’s plenty you can do to prepare your car so you can sell it for the highest possible price. The value of your car depends on various factors like its overall condition, how much it has been driven and how regularly it was serviced. Where you choose to sell the car also has a huge impact on the price and, more often than not, selling to an individual rather than a dealer makes all the difference. So, what are the factors you need to pay attention to before you sell?
When to sell
This is arguably the most important aspect of selling a car. The best time to plan this is soon after you’ve bought it. This may sound difficult, but talking to even a couple of used car experts can give you a good idea. You need to mark a ‘sell by’ date, one that avoids the big dip in a car’s value that happens sometime after third year.
Spic and span
Remember, a clean car looks much more attractive. So, the first thing you need to do is clean your car inside and out thoroughly. A proper wash and a coat of wax should give your car that fresh, almost new look. For the interiors, remove anything that isn’t required (like the floor mats) and get rid of all the pebbles and dust. Use an interior polish to make the cabin look as good as new. A typical wash and clean job can cost as little as R500. Make sure you also use a good tyre spray; ratty looking tyres can quickly spoil the look of a car. Set aside around R2,500-3,000 for this.
Another thing that puts buyers off is visible damage to the car. Not only is this a sign that the car has been neglected, but it also means the buyer needs to spend more than he intended checking it. This puts you, the seller, in a poor position to negotiate the final price. To ensure this doesn’t happen, repair any and all minor damages before you get the car polished. For example, cracked headlamps and tail-lamps or missing rear-view mirrors are the things that can be replaced easily and cost-effectively in the after-market.
A buyer will also want to test drive the car and it’s here that any mechanical issues will be revealed. So, it’s best to get the car serviced before you put it up for sale. We also recommend getting the car thoroughly inspected at the workshop to spot any issues that you are likely to miss. After the inspection, if a significant problem is discovered, you will have to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether fixing it will help you make the sale. If you don’t get it fixed, make sure you inform the buyer of the problem and how much it will cost to get fixed before he drives the car. Ask a workshop to tighten all the nuts and bolts to reduce the car of clatter as far as possible.
Having your car’s service history at hand is something that will go a long way in making a sale. So, get the car’s service records updated with all the past services and, if you have been doing something special, like using a particular grade of oil, make sure you mention this to the buyer. If you had taken a loan to buy your car, you will also need to obtain an NOC from the finance company first. If the car is still under insurance and you are throwing that in to sweeten the deal, you will also need to inform the insurance company of the sale. Other paperwork that you have to hand over is the original invoice, registration certificate and owner’s manual.
The big picture
Taking well-shot and clear pictures of your car is another way to boost the car’s value. Make sure you shoot it in soft light (not in the middle of the day). Choose a plain uncluttered background and make sure there aren’t too many reflections on the car. Shoot it from all angles and take some close up shots of important bits as well.
Sometimes a well-written ad can make a huge difference. Pick the four or five best things about your car and highlight them. Avoid extravagant claims and always use a realistic expected price. This will ensure you get more callers. Then you can decide how flexible or inflexible you want to be with the price you demand.
Placing the ad
Place your ad where it is likely to be seen by many potential car buyers. Car magazines and websites are a good place to start. Also use bulletin boards at building societies and clubs. Ask five of your best friends to help you out here.
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