Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Selling a car on Craigslist

I finally came to the conclusion that I no longer wanted to mess with trying to fix my Toyota Supra. I had spent some time investigating the issue and narrowed the problem down to one or two possibilities – both of which are more costly to repair and more trouble than I am willing to take on. Plus, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking that when you are dealing with a 20 year old car there is always going to be something that needs repair. I started dreading doing any work on the vehicle and got to the point where I was ready to part with it. So, just like that I wrote up a description, slapped a price on it and posted it with some photos on Craigslist.

The listing was free and very easy to execute. I wrote a quick paragraph describing the car, submitted it and few minutes later received an e-mail from Craigslist with a link to be used to publish the listing. The same link can be used to edit or delete the post at a later date. The listing runs for 45 days.

It didn’t take long – within three hours I had a couple of e-mails with phone numbers of the interested party requesting to set up a viewing time. I knew right away I had a really good hit. The first guy to respond actually rebuilds Supras and was looking for a car just like mine to use to rebuild his damaged racing/show car. I liked the idea of only showing the car once; the fewer strangers visiting my house the better! We arranged a date and time set for three days later for him to “meet” my car. In the meantime, I received many more e-mails from people interested in the car. Most folks wanted to trade. I had offers for vans, cars, two motorcycles, a fish/ski tri-hull boat and a registered yearling quarter horse. I rejected all offers to trade, as I was trying to get rid of something and didn’t want to add any more stuff to my collection.

The Craigslist site does a good job of warning sellers about common scams. For instance, cashiers checks can be easily faked and the individual cashing the check is held responsible! The only way you would want to take a cashiers check, nowadays, is if you called the bank and verified it on the spot.

I also read through their scams FAQs and it really made me wary of even cash! It’s not that hard to counterfeit bills and since I don’t deal with cash on a regular basis, I don’t have a counterfeit bill detector pen. Even so, it probably would have been worth it to pick one up for a few bucks just for the peace of mind.

In preparation for the showing, I found a bill of sale form on the internet and an application to transfer the title. As usual the buyer tried to low bid my price, but I held firm. The car had generated a lot of interest, so I knew I could sell it given more time. He finally relented but had to go to an ATM to get the remaining cash. Evidently he was confident he could talk me down, because he had initially arrived with $500 less than I was asking.

I signed over the title, completed the bill of sale and made copies of both. He arranged to pick up the car the next day. It was obvious that he was excited about getting the car, so it made me feel good that I had found the right home for my Supra. In fact, its got a whole new exciting life ahead for it as a model show car!


  1. How long did the whole exercise take? It seems so convenient, this Craigslist.

    Back home, I think it is going to get tough for sellers of cars in general, used or new. Used car lots seem a lot more full than usual.

    Anyway, will you be getting a new car?

  2. Good job. It sounds like the buyer may have been a bit chauvinistic in his assumptions in thinking he could get you to accept $500 less than your asking price. He obviously had no idea who he was dealing with. ;-)

    I never considered the bartering options of Craigslist...interesting.

  3. selling via internet is fairly fun. in 1999 i sold a car on yahoo and it went well. internet lets you find and groom buyers pretty easily. in the yahoo deal i kept *raising* my price because people kept asking "what's wrong with it?" when i'd just priced to move. the guy tolerated two price increases. the only hitch was the note. i don't think i'll borrow on a car loan again.

  4. I posted the listing on Wednesday afternoon and was talking to the eventual buyer 3 hours later. Because of the 4th of July holiday, I didnt show it until 3days later on Saturday when the deal was closed. It all happened much faster than I expected.

    I am not planning on buying anything else. I had two vehicles and now want to keep just the one.

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience. If the amount was too much to handle with cash, how are these transactions usually handled? Personal check?

    Did the buyer ask for a test drive or to any in-depth inspection?

  6. @Jonathan - For larger amounts, I would request the buyer to meet me at my credit union to have their personal check verfied prior to signing over the title.

    The buyer did not drive the car, but he did inspect the body and chassis extensively for damage such as dents, signs of body repair work and rust. He plans to use the frame and body of this car to rebuild another supra.

  7. Wow, that buyer sure was confident in lowering the price of your Toyota Supra by $500. Well, good for you for not standing down your price. After reading about car reconstruction in your blog, it made me remember our local auto body shop. Plano, Texas has several auto shops offering body restorations and modifications which would definitely add more wow factor to an old car.

    A couple of years back, I had a collision accident and while recovering, my dad brought my Honda Jazz at the nearby auto shop that specializes collision repair in Dallas. When I saw the results, I was so impressed. Glad I had it fixed. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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