In Parts 1 and 2 of our series on eBay Motors, we provided tips from eBay on selling vehicles through the site. eBay goes a long way toward keeping the process relatively straightforward and easy to understand. But no one can shed light on selling a car on the site like the people who have done it. Here, we talk to a few of them.
On eBay Motors you'll find every type of seller, from the large dealers to the individual who only wants to sell the family car. One of the first people we spoke with actually only sold what was left of her car.
I found the process really easy. I got tons of emails, but plenty of really suspicions buyers, too
'Totaled' car turns into total score
"I sold a 2002 PT Cruiser that had been T-boned," explains long-time eBay seller Donna MacMurray Klein.
Her wrecked car got her more than she hoped for. The best offers she received in person were $1,000 from a collision shop or $400 for scrap. That's when she decided to give eBay a try.
"I got an amazing price on it, and sold it to a mechanic who had another damaged PT and was going to take the best from them both and build a new one," she tells us. "I got $1,350 or so—really surprising!"
The car couldn't be driven, because the accident had bent the rear axle. Well, that's a happy end to the story, but how did the whole transaction unfold?
MacMurray Klein had been selling on eBay since 1998, but she'd never sold a car on the site.
"I found the process really easy," she says. "I got tons of emails, but plenty of really suspicions buyers, too. One even insisted that my insurance company owned the car because of the collision."
The part of the transaction that concerned her the most was the financial part. "I specified cash or a cashier's check drawn on Chase Bank," she notes. "I had my lawyer/husband write up a bill of sale. As I recall, eBay didn't provide much help in that regard. I'd definitely sell another car that way."
As an endnote, we're happy to report that only MacMurray Klein's PT Cruiser was injured in the accident. Everyone else is just fine.
Classic, desirable cars have the advantage
Kim Everitt has sold nearly 20 cars through eBay Motors. "I sell on consignment for other people," she says. Over the years, Everitt has seen a lot of change.
"I have found that we only have luck with classic or desirable cars," she notes. "Nowadays, the dealers have the advantage. Your everyday car takes a big hit on price if you want to use eBay."
Consider moving the car to a good location. The background suggests things about the car and its former owner at a subconscious level
Still, Everitt has experienced a little bit of everything, including international shipping for a vehicle she sold. "The key is to have the paperwork in order and follow specific guidelines for payment," she notes.
Preston Bealle, an executive with Mediasmith, has sold many types of vehicles on eBay. He's bought cars, too.
"I've bought and sold everything from a Ferrari to a Jaguar to several SUVs for my kids and two Porsches for a friend," he explains. "All in all, it's been a pleasure—no surprises—and has saved me a lot of money. eBay does a great job providing full information on the cars and comfort that you are paying the right price since anyone, nationally, can view your transactions."
Bealle compared that experience to using a dealership where the transaction usually happens among a few individuals.
Photos, descriptions matter
Brad Hines, author of the book Autoprofitz, has been buying and selling cars since his high school days, "many, many years ago."
"I loved the idea of owning a car temporarily, selling it for something different later and even making a little money in the process," he tells us. Over the years, Hines has gotten buying and selling vehicles online down to a science. His first recommendation is to have the car meticulously detailed before listing.
"Photos are everything," he says.
He recommends that you include multiple photos of the exterior, interior, engine bay and even the undercarriage. Hines also suggests taking a few close-ups of the wheels. Not only should the photos feature every aspect of the car, but they should also feature the background scene.
"Consider moving the car to a good location," he recommends. "The background suggests things about the car and its former owner at a subconscious level."
Documents do, too
But great photos extend even beyond the vehicle, itself. Since the paperwork associated with a car is so important to a prospective buyer, photograph any documents you might have.
"Documentation about a car, whether it be maintenance records or the actual owner's manual still in the glove compartment are major selling points to some people," he notes. Showing those still intact and with the car can help encourage a buyer to shop with someone who so carefully maintains the records.
As with all eBay listings, how you describe the vehicle also comes into play. "Push the car's strong points," Hines advises. "Do a little research to find out what those are. For example, if your model car often has rust under the trunk lid and yours doesn't, point that out."
eBay Motors is a fantastic platform for selling a car, from a seller's perspective. I love the format of the auction and the buying frenzy that often comes with it
Likewise, if you've got a vehicle in a rare factory color used on fewer than average models, that's a selling point, too.
Craigslist is an alternative
Of course, not everyone will agree that eBay Motors offers the best and easiest way for an individual to sell a car. Theo Chen, for one, told us he's a Craigslist fan.
"Based on the success I had with Craigslist, I don't know why I'd bother to use eBay Motors," he tells us. Chen posted a Pontiac Vibe on Craigslist and "was instantly bombarded with calls and texts," he says.
"Eventually, I sold it for above my asking price," he continues. Chen's customer drove more than 100 miles to pick up the car. "When I looked on eBay Motors, the same make and model was not even bringing what I got in cash without having to send it anywhere," he adds.
We can vouch for the quick and easy listing and selling process that is Craigslist, having sold a car there and seen family members do the same. But selling multiple cars changes the equation completely.
We'll leave this series with an enthusiastic account from author Hines.
"eBay Motors is a fantastic platform for selling a car, from a seller's perspective," he says. "I love the format of the auction and the buying frenzy that often comes with it. Certain kinds of cars—think rare and collectable—particularly lend themselves to the auction format."
Now, we can't promise your car buying and selling experience will bring you that same thrill that Hines enjoys, but in looking at both the individual seller who sells the family car and the businessperson buying and selling cars routinely, there seem to be opportunities here that shouldn't be overlooked.