SELLING YOUR VAN
by Ray A. Monigold, ASE Certified, VW Schooled
Service Manager – TEC Shop, Seattle, WA
Selling something is a lot like fishing – those who never have probably don’t want to and those who have don’t want to remember how tedious it is. But broken into easy to follow steps, selling your own vehicle can be fun – and potentially profitable.
1. DON’T PANIC – this is a common theme of mine, but an important first step. Remember, you are not single handedly sending your first born to the moon (or even faking it on a darkened sound stage). You have plenty of time (if you don’t, then PANIC because you, my friend, are in a real jam). Stay calm and follow the remaining steps.
2. KNOW THE MARKET – Use that internet thingy to Google the year and model of your Van. When the list of 12,598,246,123 hits return in less that .05 seconds, scratch your head – there are only about 10,000 Vanagons still REGISTERED in the U.S. today. Refine your search by including your zip code. Make a list or launch that spreadsheet that came with your computer. Come up with a high, low and average price. Do the same for condition. THEN look on Craigs List and the Samba. For a real treat check out GoWesty dot com’s used van listings and see what the high extremes are going for – who knows, you Van may be one of those rare types.
3. EVALUATE YOUR VAN – Pay to have a Pre Purchase Inspection done on your van. This will do several things. In Washington State the Private Party Seller is responsible for the vehicle to be generally safe, be able to pass the emissions test and the owner must reveal in writing any known defects – the well documented Pre Inspection will do this for you. ANY know issues that are revealed BEFORE the close of the sale, including the failure to pass emissions can be negotiated in writing and signed by both parties (again, letting you off the old responsibility hook).
4. PRICE YOUR VAN – Don’t under price your van – you will loose money and devalue everyone else’s vans. Remember that cause and effect are real – step on the blade of a garden shovel and feel the handle thwack you in the face (like Karma, man). Most shops that offer a documented pre sales inspection can help you with the value of your van. Once you come up with a good, fair price, move on to step five.
5. ARTICULATE YOUR SALE – Why are you selling the van? Be HONEST. Tell it in a brief story. Example – you are not going to put another penny in this thing. The last fix was nearly a thousand dollars and you’ve had it. Someone else can spent money on the dang thing! Now let’s turn that into a story – “This 1985 1.9 Vanagon was once our dream car. It took us on a lot of adventures. We recently paid close to $1,000.00 in repairs, but our life style has changed so now it’s your turn for adventure”. Truthful, but a bit more palatable. No matter WHAT your reason, people want to know WHY you’re getting rid of a perfectly good van. Then make a LIST of at least 15 things that the van HAS and NEEDS. Lead with the problems and include the milage. The list should START with a few more pieces of data like the year, model, engine and transmission. The list should END with the offer to share the Pre Sale Inspection and the price.
6. ADVERTISE FOR FREE – Take 4 standard pictures – Left side from the front, Right side from the rear, one interior shot and one engine shot. With these four shots you have the ENTIRE van covered. Make a flyer. Most every computer has a word processor or page layout application that has flyer templates. Choose the real estate template. It will have a place for a couple of pictures, a brief story area, a list of features and contact information. Do NOT use “OBO” that is a killer. Anyone who sees OBO will know you are unsure and can easily be talked down. Keep the flyer simple, uncluttered and only use ONE FONT, like Ariel or Helvetica.
To post your information on Craigs List and The Samba dot com, simply copy and paste your info from the flyer and use the same pictures.
7. GO FISHING – Arrange to park your van in a high traffic spot. Some repairs shops will do this as it generates business. Once the van is parked, flyers taped to the inside of each side window and a FOR SALE sign on the INSIDE of the windshield and back window, pull up a camp stool, take out that jerky you’ve been saving, keep your phone close and just wait. If you’ve been honest with yourself and have good exposure, you’ll be counting your cash in a month or less (OH, I almost forgot – ONLY TAKE CASH, period, no questions here and have a computer generated bill of sale with blanks for the buyer’s name and date ready to go. Do NOT sign your title until the green is counted).
8. ONE MORE THING – Be fair with potential buyers. Go with them on the first test drive and provide a little banter, this will ease the tension. Let them walk away if they want. Don’t beg and don’t make any offers about anything, just stay calm. If the buyer wants a second drive or wants “their mechanic” to look at it – do it (take common sense safety precautions, driver license, insurance card, keys to THEIR car kind of things. Things that make YOU comfortable – cause if someone wants to rip you off, you’ll be ripped off, its 2011). If a buyer makes you an offer, give it some thought. The best deal is the one where BOTH parties walk away smiling.
Go get ‘em tiger – I won’t wish you luck ‘cause you have the facts on your side.