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RPM Blog

The RPM Auto Wholesale Blog provides tips for buying and selling vehicles, humorous stories and narratives from the underbelly of the automotive industry.

Why Your Car isn't Sold-Econ 101 and Other Tough Lessons

According to the most recent Auto Trader Automotive Buyer Influence Study, the average buyer spends 15.5 hours shopping online before completing a vehicle purchase.  By the time they are ready to make a purchase, they know the year, make, model, miles and price they will have to pay for the vehicle they plan to purchase.  If you expect to be successful with the sale of your used car you must possess the same information as the buyer and be prepared to use it to your advantage by pricing your vehicle right in the sweet spot of the market.


If your used car has been listed with any of the popular online classified services for more than one week and you are not receiving legitimate inquiries from buyers, then the asking price is most likely set too high.  The invisible hand of the market is delivering a slap of common sense to you right now!


Vehicle pricing in the used car marketplace is driven by the supply and demand for a given model.  Another less known factor known as substitution plays a vital role in determining the selling price of your  used vehicle.  You must consider not only how many Toyota Camrys are currently available but also any other reliable mid sized sedan that will substitute for the car you are selling.  These models might include; Honda Accords, Hyundai Sonatas, Nissan Altimas, Ford Fusions, Mazda6s, Chrysler 200s, Subaru Legacys, Buick Regals, Chevy Malibus, Volkswagen Passats and Kia Optimas.  Most buyers will start their buying process by considering many vehicles in a given category before zeroing in on a specific model.  They are not as brand loyal as a new car buyer.  When the buyer is unseccessful locating their first choice, they will substitute another model that meets their personal pricing and driving objective.


If you plan to sell your car any time soon, you should learn something from the lesson the market has delivered. Sometimes it is not just the price that is limiting the number of inquiries you receive.  Correcting any of the 4 situations described below should help you achieve that goal.


Improperly Priced Cars do not Sell:  If your car is listed for sale on a classified website or even with a for sale sign in the window, your goal should be to sell the vehicle.  I talk to hundreds of people selling their vehicles every week and I always get a kick out of folks who tell me that they are going to test the market.  I sometimes wonder what that means to them.  Are they too lazy to do the homework necessary to determine the selling price for their vehicle or are they hoping for a miracle?  Miracles happen in Hollywood in such classics as Miracle on 34th Street.  I’ve never seen one in automobile sales.


If it has been a week and you have not received a single call on your listing then you have a problem with your price.  A car buyer moves through 4 distinct phases that culminates with a purchase.  During the early, discovery phase, shoppers who are just starting to look around and forming opinions about which models to target will call and ask questions such as: “Did you like it?” “Would you buy it again?”  If you aren’t getting calls with these types of questions, then the price is way out of range with the market. Learn how to price your used car


Improper or Limited Photos:   You need photos to sell a car!  It’s true they tell a thousand words!  More important than the number of photos is the types of photos shown.  You need to show the vehicle from every angle.  If there are problems with the vehicle, especially cosmetic problems you need to show them.  A buyer is not going to waste their time calling on a listing that lacks essential information.  Damage to a vehicle is subjective.  Something you have lived with for many years may be a deal breaker to your potential buyer.  When you describe damage to your vehicle, you need to show the damage with a photograph.


Missing Information:  As simple as this may seem, I am always amazed by the number of people that do not include a complete list of even the most basic items with an online advertisement.  Humans are constantly forming subconscious opinions about everything we encounter.  Right or wrong this is how our brain works.  Whenever I encounter an ad with missing information, I form an opinion that the seller is sloppy or lazy and perhaps treated the item being sold in that manner.  I don’t even consider their item and move right on to the next listing!


Undisclosed Problems:  The price of a vehicle is primarily determined by the year, make, model, equipment, mileage and condition.  The market does not care if it is all freeway miles or was only driven by a little old lady on her way to church and the grocery store.


You may be able to get your phone to ring and even have folks schedule appointments to see your vehicle by leaving out essential information.  But, you are wasting everybody’s time including your own when you do that.  Horses are not wishes.  Buyers are going to learn about all of the warts and flaws with your used car when they show up to look at it.  They are not going to fall in love with it and pay you too much money for your problems.


In fact, you are delaying the sale of your vehicle when you market it in this manner.  Buyers who would consider a vehicle in your vehicle’s condition have passed it over because it is priced to high for their budget. Buyers looking at vehicles in the price range you have chosen are expecting more than they will find upon inspection.  They will be angry, perhaps confrontational and will leave in a hurry.  I’ve been there as the aggravated buyer discovering undisclosed flaws and would never consider purchasing from that dishonest person-I am left wondering what else they haven’t told me about or are hiding from me.


Selling a vehicle is not rocket science.  You have to do your homework by starting out as a buyer would.  Research the market; learn what substitute vehicles are selling for as well as the price of your model.  Prepare an ad with proper pictures, description, and pertinent information.  Above all else; disclose, disclose, disclose.  HAPPY SELLING!


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