07 September 2012

Selling the Car

Welcome back. We did it! We finally bought a new car.

I did the buying and borrowing over the phone through our credit union’s car-buying service. Vicki, my wife, preferred a color that wasn’t sitting on any of the targeted car dealer lots, so we had to wait a week for delivery. Everything went smoother than silk. But then our silk road got bumpy. What do we do with the old car?

Decisions, Decisions

Disposing of the old car should have been a snap, right? Well, first we had to decide which old car. Two were competing for that honor.

We also had to decide if we should (1) trade in the old car to the dealer selling us the new car, (2) sell it to another dealer, (3) advertise and sell it openly, (4) donate it to a charitable organization and deal with our conservative accountant and the IRS, or (5) give it to a relative who would love or hate us forever, depending on how the car functioned.

The Disposed Car   

The old car chosen for disposal.
The car we chose for disposal had lots of miles on its odometer when we bought it years earlier from a stress-free, no-haggle, national car dealer. Although our son was its designated driver, he and I switched cars after I retired. Being an incredibly kind father (thank you), I thought he should have my newer car since whichever car I’m assigned seldom leaves our garage.

We probably could have traded in the car as part of the credit union transaction. That went so fast, I was unprepared and forgot to ask about the possibility.

After checking Kelley Blue Book, we took the old car back to the stress-free, no-haggle, national dealer, for an appraisal. It was a toss-up whether to accept the appraisal offer--a stress-free, no-haggle sale--or delay a few days, while we tried selling for a higher price. Haggling won the toss.

Given my vastly superior negotiating experience, acquired in countries where the populace negotiates everything, Vicki and I agreed that she would do the negotiating and I would handle advertising.

Advertising and Negotiating

I took photos of the car and whipped out a Craigslist ad in record time. (OK, I’ve no idea what record time would be, but I was fast.) I listed only an email address, which Craigslist anonymized. (Is that really a word?)

Serious responses began arriving immediately. I knew they were serious because they said they were “serious.” There was a cash offer for the car “as is” (versus?). There were lots of “u,” “ur,” “plz” and such, which I deftly deciphered. One wanted more information. One wrote in Spanish. One wrote in caps; he wanted the car that day, with an implied “or else.” Two car dealers were interested, one responding five times (finger must have slipped).

Vicki took over--calling, emailing, answering questions. Since she had an appointment near one of the more pleasant responders, she offered to show him the car in a supermarket parking lot.

When Vicki returned home, she expressed disappointment that she had accepted a relatively low offer, held with a deposit. The buyer’s family was so nice she couldn’t say no. I removed the ad, and she advised the other Craigslist responders.

Negotiating the car sale with the buyer’s family.
Not having the original car title in hand, Vicki was unable to consummate the deal until the next day. During the consummation, more of the buyer’s family appeared. Surprise! Negotiations began anew.

Wrap Up

Now that we’re in the groove, we can’t wait until it’s time to sell our other old car. Whistle if you’re interested, or if you need help preparing an ad, or if you need a negotiator. Thanks for stopping by.


Sorry; I couldn’t resist. The photos are probably from the 1930s. The first is of my grandfather. The second is a multifamily gathering with my other grandfather in the straw hat and my grandmother to his left.

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