SELLING A CLASSIC CAR:
Selling a classic car is almost as big of a deal as buying depending on your reasons for doing so. When you are planning to sell your classic car, you need to do some preparation work so you can properly market and attract potential buyers. You have to make sure you know what the current market is bringing, so you will have to do some homework before advertising your car.
To help with your planning and condition assessment needs, we have created “SPINDY’S C.A.R. F.O.R.S.A.L.E. MODEL℠”. This will help you with the car selling process. Below we have listed the key factors you need to consider when planning to purchase a classic car.
As you go through our model, we will share key questions you should ask yourself, key considerations, and share some of our own experiences when selling Classic Cars.
Determine the vehicle condition (C.A.R.):
A)Checklist: Assessment of condition using our checklist B)Analyze Drivability: Test drive the vehicle and assess the vehicle’s drivability C)Rust : How and where to look for Rust
Develop a plan (F.O.R.S.A.L.E.):
1)Facts 2)On-line Research 3)Review Your Ad 4)Staging 5)Answering the Call 6)Land the Deal 7)Exchange and Close
We recommend you leverage these checklists when using "SPINDY’S C.A.R. F.O.R.S.A.L.E. MODEL℠" when selling your Classic Car. It will help you identify and document and problem areas you are not aware. It is critical to do this when you classic has been in storage for a prolonged period of time. Now we are working in reverse order from buying a classic in that we suggest do this same process early when planning to sell your classic.
1) CHECKLIST - ASSESSMENT OF CONDITION USING OUR CHECKLIST
Use section 1 of our checklist to thoroughly go through the functions of the vehicle. This checklist will help guide you through the inspection process when you inspect yourself.
2) ANALYZE DRIVABILITY – TEST DRIVE THE VEHICLE AND ASSESS THE VEHICLE’S DRIVABILITY
Use section 2 of our checklist to test drive and perform a road test of the vehicle. This portion of the checklist is designed to help you assess performance of the vehicle as well drivability.
3) RUST – HOW AND WHERE TO LOOK FOR RUST
Using section 3 of our checklist, go through the typical rust areas of a vehicle. This portion of the checklist is a visual that shows you the typical areas for rust and shows you how to check for rust.
USING THE F.O.R.S.A.L.E. MODEL TO SELL YOUR CLASSIC:
You need to be an expert on your type of vehicle. You probably already are, but if it has been awhile, do a refresher by considering the following questions:
Am I familiar with the history of the car?
Am I familiar with the history of the automaker?
How many of my type of vehicle were produced?
How many had the type of engine I have?
What makes mine more rare than others?
How easy is it to get parts?
When we talk about history in the first question, we are talking about the history of the car model itself and not your particular car (that will come later). It is good to know production numbers, how many were produced with the options you have, and what might make yours rarer than another model of this year. Much of this you probably already know because you did your research when you purchased the car to begin with.
If you are not sure, do a refresher. Do you belong to a club or know other owners with the same kind of car? If so, talk with them. They will be happy to give you information. Find magazines and go online to research the information. The web is the best place to gather information. You can locate all facts and figures there. When our database is up and running, you can click over there to get all the information.
2) ON-LINE RESEARCH
Do some market research on your vehicle and determine the answers to the following questions:
What condition does my car classify for?
What is the market bringing for these cars?
How much should I ask for my car?
Do I have up-to-date photos?
This is the critical point where you need to do your research. Get on-line and spend a couple of hours doing the required research. Determine what category your vehicle would fall into condition-wise (project car, a good driver, show car, etc). You are going to need to search the classified ads and auction sites to see what people are asking for similar cars as well as find out how much they actually sold for. This is an important point to drive home. Just because someone is asking a certain price for a vehicle, it does not mean they are selling for this price in the marketplace. You need to know how the sale prices stack up to the asking price.
One thing we do is find a car that is very comparable to ours to compare apples to apples. Now some folks may disagree with this approach, but we contact the owner of the similar vehicle for sale as a potential buyer. This allows us to take notes, see how they present their car, and find out how theirs truly stacks up against ours. This will assist us in determining our asking price and will help us prepare on how we will present the car.
Since we are talking about older vehicles here, I suggest a buyer’s guide to check car prices. We actually use NADA.com as a free source to do this. Another approach, and more costly approach, is to have your car appraised by a professional appraiser. You should do this anyhow when you by a classic car, but these car prices are market driven, so they are up and down. If you have one that is several years old, you can use it, but it will be out of date. Depending on when that last appraisal was done, the value could have increased or decreased dramatically, so this might be a consideration, but will cost a couple of bills.
At the completion of the on-line research process, you should be able to establish what your asking price will be (the advertised price). You will also need to determine what your bottom dollar will be (the un-advertised price). Everything in between is your negotiating room (wiggle room).
Regardless of which path you decide to follow, make sure you have a good set of photos. Obviously not critical is you are selling local only, but if you use on-line selling tools like Ebay for instance, the better and clearer the photographs are, the better. People will be looking at your car from all over the country, so it is very important that you make yours stand out with very clear and crisp photos that are well lighted.
We have had the good fortune of buying a couple of cars at a fantastic price because people have not followed this rule. We have purchased two that were on-line and local. The on-line photos we dark and out of focus. We were able to go look at the car in person and it was excellent and just had bad photos, so we bid and won at a great price. We did win a third that was a no reserve auction, but the seller would not sell it at the price and refused to do the deal. It is important to note here that we have looked at probably 20-30 others advertised just the same (dark and blurry), and they were in fact in bad condition.
We have included our Checklists at the bottom of this model. This is our car buying checklist for those looking for a classic car, but we also suggest using it to assess the condition of your own vehicle when preparing to sell. This will make sure you do a thorough job and review key functions so you can fully disclose any issues with the car.
3) REVIEW YOUR AD
Now is the time to prepare your ad. Consider the following questions:
Do I know what my ad will say?
Do I know where I will place my ad?
You need to begin creating an ad for your car. Determine where you plan to list it. Will it be on-line, in the classifieds section of the newspaper, or maybe on the street with a for sale sign? Depending on which media type to plan to use to advertise your car, you may run into ad restrictions and there will be costs associated with most. We are lucky that we have a great high traffic area on part of our property in Arizona. Most vehicles I sit roadside sell within a couple of hours, worst case was two days. Point here is if you have access to a location such as this, you could turn your car quickly without any out-of-pocket cost.
Either way you go, make sure you do a detailed write-up of your vehicle. Look at other ads for similar vehicles and model your ad after those if they look appealing to you. If you are listing in the classifieds, you will be very restricted on the amount of verbiage you can include in your ad. If putting your car in a high traffic location, you can type up a page that covers it all.
Many people use Ebay, and if you do, you have all the room in the world to list it all. With Ebay's new policy, there is no listing fee to sell your car, but you are assessed fees if it sells. Ebay does have a photo fee of $0.15 cents per photo after the first one which is free. There are other options in Ebay too that do have fees associated with them, but spending $2 for photos to reach a wide audience is not a bad investment. I will say that we have bought and sold many cars through Ebay. Of those we have sold, only about 30% of the winning bidders actually had the funds to complete the purchase, so be aware of this issue with ebay. You can report non-paying bidders, but that does not help you in the end and delays your sale. I actually had one car I sold four times. The fourth buyer was a legitimate buyer.
Another consideration is the social network. I see people now using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to advertise their cars.
Just like you would do to the interior of a house to make it look desirable to a potential buyer, you need to do the same for a car. Consider the following questions:
Does my car look appealing (good curb appeal)?
Do I know all the issues with the car?
Am I prepared with a bill of sale should I get a buyer?
Make sure your car has had a good detailing inside and out. It needs to be presentable to the point that it will stand out from any similar vehicles a potential buyer may be looking at. Remove everything from the vehicle that will not go with it. Likewise, place everything in the vehicle that will be included with it so the potential buyer can review it. It is always good to have a flashlight near by and maybe a few tools as well (i.e., tire gauge, pliers, rag).
Now that your vehicle is spotless, be sure to place it in a presentable area for any prospective buyer that may come to look at it. Don't stick it in the side yard with the weeds or bury it in the garage with all the boxes you never unpacked. Find a simple and nice appealing spot. When we know we have a buyer coming to look at one of our cars, we place our other vehicles in the garage and place the classic in the middle of the outside driveway backed in with the backend to the garage doors and the front-end facing out. No right or wrong way to do it, just make sure it is well presented, displayed, and plenty of room to get around it.
It is also important to have a list of all the items that are wrong with the vehicle. If you used the assessment checklist in section 2 for the on-line research, then you have your list. If you did not, be sure to do it now so you have a list together before you receive a call from your first potential buyer. However, we highly suggest you do this in section 2. Depending on what media type you plan on using for your ad, chances are you will want to know about all issues so you can include them in the ad you create.
This can be done in almost any section of this process, but we strongly suggest creating a Bill of Sale sheet at this point so you have it ready. The reason we say do it here is because you are preparing your list of known issues. When doing a Bill of Sale, we always produce a formalized document that lists the VIN, amount, buyer and seller names and the date. We also include disclaimers about major defects and make the point that the vehicle is "Sold As Is with No Warranty". Click here to see and print our Bill of Sale Form.
NOTE: This is the process we follow for the Bill or Sale and disclaimers. We cannot advise you if this is in fact considered a legal and binding contract. Only an attorney can advise you for sure. We recommend consulting with one if you have concerns in this area.
5) ANSWERING THE CALL
Now that your ad is in the market place, it is time to entertain prospective buyers. Consider the following questions:
Do I have all information handy for callers?
Am I prepared to let people take the vehicle for test drive?
Am I prepared to let potential buyers take the vehicle to have it inspected by their mechanic?
How will I accept payment of the vehicle – Cash, Cashier’s Check, etc.?
The answer to the first three questions above should be yes. Let’s break it down. First of all, you should have all details of the car handy for prospective callers. You need to be able to answer all questions they ask on the phone. We always prepare a fact sheet and use that in conjunction with our assessment forms.
When you draw the interest of a caller and they wish to come see the vehicle, set up a time and location. Location may be your house or you may meet somewhere. We always have someone with us when we show a vehicle just as a safety precaution. Normally not an issue showing a car, but we did have a seller down the street from us in a very affluent neighborhood selling a $300,000 Prevost and was attacked buy a potential buyer a few years back. Better to be safe than sorry.
Secondly, you need to be prepared to allow the potential buyer to test drive the car. This is a normal part of the process. We consider ourselves a good judge of character and will sometimes let them take the vehicle for a test drive on their own. Of course that depends on the car we are selling and a lot depends on the prospective buyer. But most of the time we go with them. We actually recommend that you do ride along when they test drive.
Finally, they buyer may want to have their car inspected by their mechanic of a shop. Ideally they will bring their mechanic with them to inspect the car. If not, go with them to have it inspected. I treat these as “serious buyers”. A tire-kicker would not go through this effort and possible cost.
One question you will need to be prepared to answer is “what will you accept as payment”. Your ad may or may not cover it, but be prepared to answer regardless. We only accept cash or a Cashier’s Check. We will cover this more in the next section.
Keep in mind that many of the calls you will receive will be tire-kickers. Even some people that come out will be tire-kickers. It can get irritating, but we accept this going into it knowing this will be a reality. Regardless of whether or not we can figure that out or not does not matter to us, we treat everyone as a potential buyer and with the utmost courtesy. That goes a long way and we once turned a tire-kicker into a buyer by his own admission because it liked our personality and wanted to do business, even though he truly was not in the market.
Be sure to have all vehicle documents available for the potential buyer to inspect.
6) LAND THE DEAL
Is your potential buyer is ready to make an offer? Consider the following questions:
Am I prepared to Negotiate?
Do I need a deposit to hold the car?
You have an offer on the table and now it is the time to negotiate. You should know what your bottom dollar is. Hopefully the offer is somewhere between your bottom dollar and the asking price. If it is great, but that does not mean you have to accept it. I always counter to see if we can get closer to our asking price versus the other way (closer to our bottom dollar).
You may have to go back and forth a few times, but you know what you have and as long as you are reasonable with your pricing, stick to your guns. If you are selling a 1980 high mileage stock Corvette for $25,000, be prepared for offers in the $8,000 range since would be more realistic. This is an extreme example, but you understand.
In today’s market, you will get low ball offers. Expect it and be prepared to respond in a professional manner. Regardless of what you might tell someone on the phone, it will happen. I sold a 1969 Camaro Z28 a few years back. The guy low balled me on the phone and I politely turned him down. He said he was still interested and wanted to come see it. He made a special trip from California to Arizona the next day to see it. He looked at the car and loved it, made the same low ball offer, I turned him down, and he left. I never did understand that one. I sold the car the next day for full asking price.
Point of the above story is to let them walk away if there is no commitment. I always ask for their name and phone number when they leave. This allows me to call them back in a couple of days if I have not sold the car. See if they still have interest and possibly renegotiate.
Assuming you have negotiated a price that satisfies both you and the buyer, you need to get a deposit unless they are paying cash on the spot. If they want to come back and get the car later, you need to request a deposit to hold the car for them. You can negotiate this anyway you want. I typically take a $200 deposit (non-refundable) and tell them I will hold the car for 24 hours after which I will place it back on the market. The higher the deposit, the longer I will hold for them. Again, this is all negotiable and you should agree on something that is comfortable for you.
7) EXCHANGE AND CLOSE
Provided you have an offer that you have accepted, now you need to finalize the deal and consider the following:
Have you accepted a payment type?
Is the buyer or a transport picking up the vehicle?
If the buyer is buying on the spot, are all documents in order?
Ok, you are almost done. You have arrived at the point where you have an offer from a buyer and you need to finalize all of the specifics. All relevant documents will need to be signed/provided to the new owner. The title will have to be signed and handed over to the buyer. You never do this step until you have payment in full.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You NEVER release the car or sign over the title until full payment has been received. No exceptions !!!
Before handing over any documentation, you first need to secure full payment from the buyer. This may be in the form of cash or other methods that are acceptable to you. We take cash and accept a Cashier’s Check. Keep in mind that many payment methods other than cash could be fraud. That is why we limit it to cash or Cashier’s Check. If receiving a Cashier’s Check, we go to the bank with the check prior to releasing the vehicle. We deposit the Cashier’s Check and at the same time, we ask the bank to validate it. The bank will call the issuing institution and can confirm its validity. Heck, even with cash we have a pen to check for counterfeit bills.
With the money in the bank and confirmed, it is time to turn over the vehicle to the buyer. Now you may sign over the title. Some states may require the title be notarized, so be sure to check in advance. For example, In Arizona the title must be signed and notarized, in Indiana the seller just has to sign it over. Provide a Bill of Sale with the disclaimers we discussed in the Staging section. Click here to access and print our Bill of Sale Form.
If the buyer is out of state and a transport company is picking up the vehicle, be sure to take pictures before and after the car is loaded. This documents the condition of the vehicle on the transport when it left your location.