Thanks to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, life across the globe has turned upside down. Even formerly common activities, such as dining out or shopping for groceries, have become difficult to conduct safely in 2020. Selling a car is no exception, as the process generally involves close contact with a number of people. GOBankingRates came up with a list of safety precautions for you to consider so that you can still sell your car safely during the coronavirus crisis.
Last updated: July 9, 2020
Thoroughly Clean and Disinfect Your Car
No matter when you are selling your car, you should thoroughly clean and sanitize it before you show it to buyers. However, in the COVID-19 era, a thorough disinfection is required.
Not only will disinfecting keep both you and your potential buyers safe, it can also be used in your marketing ad. Certain buyers may be interested to know that you are taking extra precautions to protect them from the virus.
Meet Outside of Your House
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, some sellers may have felt comfortable conducting a car sale at their own residence. Nowadays, that should not be considered as an option.
When you list your car, you might meet potentially 10 or more buyers who are interested in seeing your car. Having 10 strangers into your house or on your property in any manner could be risking the spread of infection into where you live.
Conduct car sales at a third-party site where you don’t bring the risk of infection into your home.
Keep Socially Distanced
One of the prime directives from global health leaders regarding the spread of the coronavirus is that you must keep socially distanced. Maintaining at least six feet between yourself and others is one of the primary ways to keep everyone safe.
Since this can be difficult during a car sale, you’ll have to be mindful of not getting too close to potential buyers. Perhaps keep the car itself between you as a buffer as you discuss your deal.
Consider Using an Online Car Retailer
The proliferation of online marketplaces has been a huge boon for both car sellers and car buyers. Companies such as Carvana have made the whole process as painless as possible. To sell your car, you can simply type in your vehicle’s VIN number, mileage, condition and features to get a real-time quote. If you accept the offer, a rep will drive over to your house, confirm your information, hand you a check and drive away with your former car.
Learn the Basics: How To Sell a Car
Find the Right Price for Your Car
Selling your car for the right price is easier said than done. Obviously, you’ll want to get the best possible price for your car, but buyers are working equally hard to get a “steal” from you.
Many car buyers have an emotional attachment to their cars that makes them overvalue them mentally. Check valid third-party sites like Kelley Blue Book to get a rough estimate as to what your vehicle is actually worth.
Valuations have fluctuated considerably during the coronavirus era, so check and recheck the fair value of your car before you list it.
Make Sure Your Car Is in Perfect Working Condition
If you’re looking to maximize the sale value of your car, make sure it’s in perfect working order. Pristine vehicles with no operating problems can often command a premium in the used auto market, and this may be particularly true during the coronavirus epidemic. If a buyer has to visit a garage and make major repairs to the car, not only is it potentially expensive, it’s also another point of exposure to the virus. Providing a hassle-free buying experience can be of immense value to current buyers.
Take the Time To Get Excellent Photos
Even if your car is priced far under value, you might struggle to get potential buyers to your doorstep unless you have accurate photos of your vehicle. Buyers want to see that cars have the features mentioned in an advertisement, and they also want to see the overall condition of a car.
During the COVID-19 crisis, photos are even more important, as buyers may only travel to see cars when they have a good feel for what they’ll be getting in person.
Offer a Virtual Test Drive
When you’re selling your car, you want to give it the broadest appeal possible. Today, some buyers might be reluctant to jump into strangers’ cars for a test drive.
You can help persuade these customers to buy by offering a virtual test drive. Either film yourself in the car driving around your neighborhood, or live stream an actual drive while one of your potential customers watches. Even though these customers may still wish to have a final test drive in person, at least you can give them an indication of what they’d be buying.
Be Careful With Online Payments
Online payments might seem to be of great value during the time of a global pandemic. And for some buyers and sellers, they can indeed make the process easier and contact-free.
However, online money transfer services don’t allow large-dollar transactions on their platforms. Even worse, online transfer services may be more susceptible to fraud. To eliminate all risk that your transaction turns sour, accept cash or cashier’s checks only when selling your car.
Get a Vehicle History Report
Buyers don’t want any surprises if they’re plunking down thousands of dollars for a car they have never seen before. One way to avoid any potential problems is to get a third-party vehicle history report, such as a Carfax.
A Carfax will show the complete history of your vehicle, from changes in ownership to accidents, damage and recalls. These reports are the gold standard for the used auto market, as owners can’t hide any potential problems in the vehicle’s history.
Needless to say, vehicles with a clean history can command higher prices than those that show prior damage.
Understand the Documentation Process
If you’re selling your car on your own, you’ll be responsible for filing all of the required paperwork with the DMV after you complete the sale. Although this is a relatively simple process, you’ll have to be mindful to file everything correctly and in the proper time frame. For example, when you sell a car, you have to notify the DMV within five calendar days.
Keep Emotion Out of It
One of the hardest steps in the process of selling a car is releasing your emotional attachment. Americans in general love their cars and spend lots of time in them, so in a sense they become second homes. Even owners who don’t consider themselves particularly emotional can get worked up watching their baby drive away in the arms of another, never to return. But in this situation, you have to remember that you’re selling your car for a reason, and that it’s a business decision.
Repeat Your Disinfection Process
Even though you’ve thoroughly sanitized your vehicle before you’ve shown it, you’ll have to repeat the process every single time someone checks out your car. Even if it’s just a short visit, whenever a potential buyer leaves, you’ll have to whip out your cleaners and go through the whole sanitization process again. This is a good standard operating procedure even during normal times, but it’s become absolutely critical during the coronavirus outbreak.
Offer Safety Equipment to Your Potential Buyer
Although everyone should be taking precautions during the COVID-19 era, don’t assume that all of your potential buyers will be prepared with all of the proper equipment. Have an ample supply of masks, gloves and hand sanitizer on hand to offer to anyone who comes near your vehicle. These precautions will help protect you, your customer and any future potential buyers that look at your car.
Be Flexible With Buyers
Selling anything, especially a high-ticket item like a car, is always a negotiation. You’ll likely have a price you’d like to sell your car at, but you should realize that most buyers won’t just accept your first offer outright. As in most negotiations, you should expect that you’ll get offers that seem too low for you, and you may ultimately have to take a price that’s a bit dissatisfying. This might be more true during the coronavirus crisis, as fewer buyers may be willing to venture out to make a deal.
Use a Plastic Divider During Your Test Drive
To help keep both you and your potential buyer safe during the COVID-19 epidemic, install a temporary plastic divider between the driver’s seat and the passenger’s seat. This will allow you to offer customers the complete test drive experience while still keeping everyone safe. If there are additional passengers riding along in the back seat, additional plastic dividers should be installed.
Don’t Shake Hands To Seal the Deal
Social distancing feels awkward, but most have adopted the practice during the COVID-19 crisis. One of the most difficult traditions to resist, however, may be the urge to shake hands when you first meet with your buyer. If you seal the deal, it might feel even more uncomfortable to refuse shaking hands. However, in the era of COVID, shaking hands is a no-no, and should be a part of your social distancing protocol.
Complete as Much of the Deal as Possible Online or Over the Phone
Car sales are traditionally an in-person transaction. In the coronavirus era, however, you’ll want to complete as much of your sale as possible through no-touch methods. This means you should communicate via phone or email as much as possible, limiting the time you actually spend with someone else to an absolute minimum.
Sharpen Your Counter-Offer Skills
Just because you receive an offer for your car that’s below your desired price doesn’t mean you have to accept it. In fact, you should plan on having a counter-offer ready for any offers you receive. If you have solid reasons why your car is worth a higher price than someone offers and you have a convincing personality, you may be able to stick firm at your original price and still get a deal done.
Remember that you’re likely to get more than one offer on your car, and you may very well get a full-price offer without even having to counter, so never give in to your first offer.
Sell Your Car to a Dealer
Offloading your vehicle to a dealer is one of the easiest ways to sell it. Most car dealers will make an offer on nearly any car and will take it off your hands with just a minimum amount of inspection.
During the COVID-19 epidemic, this can be one of the best ways to avoid potential infection. Simply enter your car details online or call a local dealer to get a rapid quote. Then, you can likely just drop your car off at the dealer’s lot, get a check and be on your way.
Just be aware that you can generally get more from your car via a private sale than by selling to a dealer.
Use Fresh Pens
One method of coronavirus transmission that may get overlooked in the selling process is the use of common equipment or materials, like pens. If both you and the buyer will be signing documents together, use separate, freshly disinfected pens. Once you’ve used the pens, place them in a plastic bag or other container until you can either dispose of them or sanitize them for future use.
Consider Using a Broker
One of the easiest ways to sell your car during the coronavirus epidemic is to use a third-party, like a car broker, to sell your car. You’ll have to pay a fee for this type of service, but it removes you completely from the car sale equation. You’ll be safe from infection and you won’t have to deal with negotiating your car price. If you hire a great broker, you may even be able to sell your car at a higher price. Of course, the net amount to you will be lower, as you’ll have to take the broker’s fee out of your sales proceeds.
Require a COVID-19 Test
This might sound a bit extreme, but since the coronavirus is so contagious, you might want to require a negative COVID-19 test before you accept a meeting to sell your car. If nothing else, you can be sure you have a legitimately interested buyer if they are willing to take a COVID test before meeting with you.
Consider Paying for a Listing
You can advertise your car for free on some online sites, but you won’t necessarily get the greatest exposure. Paid sites like Autotrader are often the first place car buyers shop for vehicles, and sometimes also the last. Spread out your advertisements over a variety of platforms and understand that you may have to invest in paid advertising in order to find the best audience for your car.
If you want to avoid the chance of contamination and aren’t in a rush, consider waiting to sell your car. After a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, you can go back to selling your car in the traditional way, with an in-person transaction. You might also get more interest in your car, as potential buyers will be more willing to come out and see your vehicle.
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