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Selling A Car In Florida (A Former Dealers Advice)

How-To-Sell-A-Car-In-Florida

Tips For Selling A Car Privately (2018 Guide)

In this post, I’m going to walk with you through the process of selling your car if you live in the State of Florida.

Want to know the best part?

I am also going to share with you exactly how you can ensure you get the most money possible for your car whether you:

  • Sell your car private party
  • Sell your car to a dealer or a car buying service (Carmax)
  • Trade my car into the dealership I am buying my new car from 

Now:

You are probably already leaning one way or the other on which method you prefer, and that’s fine! The selling of one’s car and even the buying of a new car is a process that each person should tailor to their personal needs. Maybe yours is financial, or maybe it’s more in the interest of preserving your time. Heck, for some, it’s about just maintaining their sanity!

Either way, you are going to come out on the other end of a faster and more profitable car sale.

Tips For Selling Your Car [Best Method]

Do you want the most money for your car? If you do, then the private car selling market is calling your name.  However, if time and convenience are your biggest factors, and you can afford giving up potentially a few thousand dollars, then I would be headed to the dealership or a car buying service.

For-Sale

My Recommendation for anyone who is leaning toward a trade in-  Get at least one offer from a Carmax or a car buying company.  

Knowing what the ACV (Actual Cash Value) on a wholesale level for your vehicle is will come in handy at the dealership.  This way, when they present the numbers to you if you see the offer from Carmax say 15k but the trade in allowance shows 18k or 12k, you can confidently raise the red flags.

Selling A Car To A Dealer

As of 2018, a Car Buying Service could mean a few different things depending on the company you work with, however…

The traditional definition for a Car Buying Service is a business (Not Typically A Licensed Car Dealership) that only exists to buy cars directly from the public for the purposes of selling them on the wholesale market, meaning they sell to car dealers or car auction houses only.

These services are usually a better option than the traditional car dealership for selling a car quickly as they don’t have anything to sell you in return.  If you are interested in this particular option for selling your car, two of the more popular Car Buying Services are Carmax and Autobuy, both with multiple locations across Florida.

Should-I-Trade-In-My-Car

Selling A Car To A Dealer For Cash

The fastest way to sell a car privately:  If you see an ad from a business such as, “Sell Your Car For Cash Today”, they may be a buying service, but they are probably a service targetting the more desperate of car sellers which means a not so great deal for you.

Opt for a more reputable option, they may give you a certified check which is as good as cash at the bank, but at least you will get the best value.

Should I trade In My Car?

Bonus:  If you are reading this and would like a free trade estimate, comment below with your Vin.  We will check the local Dealer Auctions and Tell You Exactly what the dealerships are spending on your car!

Do You Pay Sales Tax When Trading In A Car?

Answer: Yes, but significantly less.  

Another popular option for selling your car fast would be to trade it in at the dealership where you will be buying your next car.  This can be a good idea for a few reasons:

  • You are buying and selling your car in one place which makes everything very simple.
  • The dealership taking your car is more incentivized to meet you on a price because they want you to buy their car.
  • The way trade-in’s work you save money on the sales tax by being able to deduct the money for your trade

The Sales Tax Benefit To Trading In Your Car (Is It Worth It?)

The question of something “being worth it” in car buying usually has everything to do with you, so you will have to plug in YOUR numbers and see if the potential savings can justify the path your on. 

For example: 

In Florida, if you buy a 30k car you would owe 6%, which is $1800.  If your trade-in is given a value by the dealership of 10k, then you would only owe $1200, a savings of $600.

-Is saving the $600 worth giving up the potential $2,000 (plus) that you could get selling your car private party? (This is an avg based on dealers aiming to get cars 2k-3k below retail on a trade.

Actual Cash Value VS. Trade In Allowance

Is actual Cash Value the same as trade in value?

ACV “Can” be the same number as an allowance, but more often than not the ACV is removed from the car deal in place of a trade-in allowance because an allowance isn’t based on anything concrete- The dealership can make it any number they choose to persuade a customer that they are receiving a better offer.

Definition of Trade-In Allowance:

A car dealerships trade-in allowance represents the dollar figure a dealership is “Allowing” you to get (On paper) for your current vehicle in order to complete your purchase of another car.

Should-I-Trade-In-My-Car-Autohitch

It is important to note that the trade-in allowance is different from the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle.  As referenced above-  The Actual Cash Value is a conclusion reached by assessing the market.  It’s backed by pricing data.

A Trade In Allowance can be entirly made up because it’s the main purpose is to provide the dealership flexibility on trade figures in order to close the deal.

The Bottom Line:

In reality, what will usually happen is that any stated savings shown will eventually be added back on somewhere else in the deal where the average buyer is not likely to notice.  To avoid this confusion all you have to do is ask for the ACV (Actual Cash Value) upfront, this would be the number (theoretically) that they would be comfortable writing you a check for whether you bought their car or not.

Selling A Car Private Party In Florida

o get the most money for your car there will be no other method that competes with selling your car privately.  Some people will tell you stories about how they got retail value for their car from a dealer or an Auto Buying Service, but let your own common sense be the guide:

Stressed-Cartoon

Does that sound like something someone who buys and sells cars for a living would do?

That being said, there are certain vehicles that can fetch you a very fair wholesale offer from a dealership or a buying service:

The types Of Cars Dealers Want To Buy From You

Cars that can fetch a high wholesale value with the dealership (Still not retail)

  • Late model (3-4 years old)
  • Off Lease vehicles
  • Low mileage vehicles
  • Suv’s
  • Crossovers

If your car has most or all of these bullet points checked off, and convenience is the most important factor for you in selling your car, then you will do just fine, if not, very well.  However, if you find that your car doesn’t possess these characteristics, and that value is high on your list, then I can’t advise any other route than to sell your car privately.

Of course, you can still go to the dealer if you just prefer not to deal with the public, and I couldn’t blame you

BUT,

you should know that you stand to lose anywhere from $1500 to $3500 selling/trading a less than desirable vehicle to a car dealer.

A Florida Car Selling Service

Autohitch-Car-Selling-Service

Although I will cover the process in more depth shortly, I do want anyone in South Florida that is selling a car themselves to know that Autohitch is now helping people sell their cars. Why should you have a professional help you sell your car privately?

  • Know what the dealers are paying for your car “As we speak”
  • Be connected with legitimate services like detailers, mechanics, so you are not ripped off
  • To have professional pictures for your listing and social media
  • So your car is on the best (FREE) listing sites locally and nationally
  • For professional listings that move cars faster for more $
 

If you have any questions about what we will do to make selling your car simpler, simply use our contact us page to submit your questions.

Transferring Ownership Of Your Car

Transferring Ownership Of Your Car

Well, you won’t be transferring ownership day one, but you also don’t want to find out at the last minute that you overlooked something that is now putting your sale at risk. 

Another factor to consider is that Dealing with the DMV to correct certain issues has a tendency to be more involved than just a quick visit downtown.  So, if were you I would look everything over upfront and this way you know when the money hits your hand you’re done!

To check that everything is ok with the title work on your vehicle before you go to sell, look to see:

  • Is your name on the title and are you legally authorized to sign it over to a buyer?

    Many married couples or possibly parent/child car purchases are done placing two names on a car’s title, which is perfectly fine, but if you put John “And” Jane rather than John “Or” Jane then both people have to sign the title for the transfer of ownership to be legal.  If you are in a state that requires a notary for vehicle title signatures this complicates the sale even more because 3 people need to show up to sell the car.

  • Are there any liens or levy’s on your title? (Check your Florida title status here)

    Maybe you had a car loan and trusted that the lender actually removed the lien when you made the final payment, or maybe you and a mechanic had a dispute and they placed a mechanics lien on your vehicle and you never knew (Yes they can do that).  Using the link above will give you the up to date information on any issues with your vehicle’s title.

  • Do you have the legal copy of your title in your hand?

    Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who are so eager to sell their car they don’t ever actually verify that they have the title where they remember putting it.  Another issue I have seen become a MASSIVE problem are duplicate titles.  What happens is that people lose their title, apply for a duplicate, then find the original and assume the duplicate is no longer of any use.  The problem here is that once you order a duplicate title the original title is canceled out by the state and no longer any more valuable than a blank sheet of paper.  Again, the link above to check the status of your vehicle/title will reveal if your title is valid.

For a more in-depth article covering vehicle titles check out our post- “What to do with the title when you sell a car”.

Is It Worth It To Fix Your Car Before Selling Or Trading It Into The Dealer?

Most of the time for minor damages such as scratches, dents, rips in seats, it is very worth it to get repairs before selling your car or even trading into a dealership, and here is why:

Is It Worth It To Fix Your Car Before Selling Or Trading It Into The Dealer?

Most people that will look to purchase your car are ironically not looking for defects because they want to avoid them, they are actually hoping to find them because doing so will likely mean an extra discount ($$)

How it works is simple: 

People find some damage, ask for double what they know the repair is worth, claiming it’s because they have to go through the trouble of getting it fixed and being without the car, then they either get it fixed cheaply or just pocket the extra savings.

So essentially what you are doing by getting as much fixed as possible is giving people, or dealers, fewer places to point for a discount.

All this being said, it still comes down to the math and if the repairs start to break even with how much they would increase the value of the car, it’s no longer worth it.  

-Take your lumps and move on to your next ride…

Should I Clean My Car Before Selling It?

Cleaning or detailing your car is an absolute must before selling any vehicle.  It’s not really so much about whether or not anyone can spot dirt or trash, it’s simply about creating that clean feeling that we all love, it just makes people feel comfortable being somewhere, like in your car!

Is It Worth Detailing A Car Before Selling?

Absolutely!

My recommendation is to do what I did as a dealer:  Call in the pros and look up local detailers. 

These guys know what it really means to clean a car on that next level, something you just won’t achieve on your own.  This is the type of clean that’s get’s into the door jams and the engine compartment and that can make it look like you babied your car from day one. 

The price of a car detail can vary based on exactly how good you want to look and who you call, but here are some “Rough” estimates from my time hiring detailers on what you can expect them to cost.

 

The Average Cost Of A Car Detailer:

  • Someone that washes and cleans your car really well will be around $60-$80 (Not really a detail)
  • A standard detail from a qualified detailer will be between $100-$140 (Best choice for most sellers)
  • A Full Detail from a qualified detailer with paint correction (Buff and Polish) will be between $180-$250

 

Important Tip:  If you are trading in a vehicle to a dealership don’t order a full head to toe detail!  This, along with removing all of your personal items from the car before arriving, puts you in a weaker negotiating position as it signals to the dealership that you are emotionally prepared to drive home a new car that day.

Photographing Your Car For Sale

After cleaning and/or detailing your car it’s time for pictures, but I want you to understand something very important:  These pictures are not only going to determine if anyone calls on your vehicle, they are also going to have an impact on the sort of people that show interest. 

In Florida:

The car business is so lucrative that there are a large number of people who take it up as a side hobby and target people who are desperate or seemingly unaware of what they are doing. 

If anyone has ever contacted you offering 3-4k less than you are asking for your car, then finished off their offer by qualifying it with the word “Cash”,

then you have encountered them.

How To Take Pictures To Sell A Car

How To Take Pictures Of Your Car
  • How Many Photos Do I Need Of My Car?  

    Quality and Quantity are equally important when it comes to the pictures people need to see while car shopping. For example, while the average person selling a car privately may only take 10-15 pictures, a dealer will average anywhere between 40-60 pictures per vehicle.  I Recommend shooting at least 30, and here is why:  People that are local will take a short drive to see what isn’t visible in your pictures, but people farther away will not.  By having quality photos in your listing you expand your reach toward potential car shoppers, and that’s worth a few extra snaps.

 
  • Should I Use A DSLR or My Phone Camera?  

    If you have a DSLR type camera I would highly recommend using that for your photos, if not, the average cell phone camera of today will certainly suffice.

 
  • What Time Of Day Is Best To Photograph A Car?  

    Whatever camera you do end up using it will be best to shoot at times of the day when the light is softer, such as in the early morning or late afternoon.

 
  • Where Should I Take Pictures Of My Car?

    The setting you choose will also be vitally important.  Stay clear of anywhere where there are other vehicles as they will distract from the subject= Your car.  Try to find somewhere with greenery or trees, also well know public places which can build trust that you are a real seller.  If you are near palm trees or beaches that will be the #1 setting you can take a used car photo in the entire country!  It shows that you don’t live in winter climates where the vehicle could have rust concerns and its also hard to compete with by people selling cars in the rest of the country.

 
  • What Needs To Be In The Pictures Of The Car?

    One easy trick to nail this is to simply find a dealership’s website and look at what they have posted.  Millions of dollars and years of research in the industry have gone into what should be included in a listing to sell cars, and a big dealership will reveal those findings on their inventory page,

    AT NO COST TO YOU!

    Use those as your guideline for what should be in your photos.  If you have all of your books and keys throw those in at the end of your pictures.  It may not seem like much to you but to buyers, it’s considered to be a sign of someone who takes care of things that they own. 

And one last Tip:  Throw in a Free Carfax Report.  It’s another sign that you have absokutly nothing to hide and are even willing to help them do their research through an independant, and reliable, third party!

Where To List Your Car For Sale (The Best Free Listing Sites)

Not knowing where to list a car is one of the biggest mistakes I see private sellers making, so I am going to lay out in this section exactly how you can list your car for free while also reaching more buyers than any paid service or website out there.  First of all, there is absolutely no reason you ever need to pay for a listing and the two biggest culprits that charge for the ability to do so happen to be Autotrader and Cars.com.  

Where To List Your Car For Sale (The Best Free Listing Sites)

Now, to be fair, Cars.com does offer a free option, but it is so limited in the number of photos (5) that you can upload that a buyer is almost forced to call and ask for more pictures before they can truly even be interested in your vehicle.  To sell your car fast, and for free, I recommend you use these vehicle listing sites:

CarGurus

Is the number one choice I have for you, the one I would tell you to use if you were only listing in one place.  Why?  Because it’s free, because you get unlimited photos, and because they are very big into optimizing themselves for search engines. 

What that means for you as a private car seller is that when people are searching Google (The #1 Search engine in the world) for your type of car, your chances of showing up are better.  I can’t say this works all of the time, but using it to sell a hundred cars or so, that was certainly my experience.

Cargurus-Sell-My-Car

Craigslist

Is the number one choice I have for you, the one I would tell you to use if you were only listing in one place.  Why?  Because it’s free, because you get unlimited photos, and because they are very big into optimizing themselves for search engines.  What that means for you as a private car seller is that when people are searching Google (The #1 Search engine in the world) for your type of car, your chances of showing up are better.  I can’t say this works all of the time, but using it to sell a hundred cars or so, that was certainly my experience.

 

Craigslist-Car-Listings

Facebook Marketplace–

I myself, although not actually selling a car on it, have done well with Facebook for small to large household items.  In fact, every person that I have sold something too on Facebook has not haggled me over my price and been absolutely normal as can be when we met.  My guess would be that because people use their individual profiles, that this keeps the less desirable buyers/sellers away because even they have a legit facebook page they don’t care to tarnish.  My recomendation=  Give it a try!

Facebook-Marketplace-for-Cars-Autohitch

The Best Way To Sell A Car Privately (Showing)

Let’s address the number one aspect of showing a car right out of the gate, and that is- Making sure to get the most money for your car.

How To Properly Show A Car To Potential Buyers

Yes, safety is right up there, but that has some relatively simple solutions such as:

  • Meeting in a public place
  • Not revealing your license plates 
  • Getting a copy or photo of potential buyers I.D.’s immediately upon meeting 
  • Bringing a second person with you to a showing
  • Being on the phone with someone when you get to the showing.

When it comes to winning the price war at the “Alamo” of the car buying process (Your last stand), I have two key strategies I want you to take away-

  1. Know your price better than anyone else
  2. Avoid the word “No”

Selling A Car Private Party For Cash (Price)

Being able to justify your asking price and actually getting paid the cash you deserve isn’t easy, but anyone can do it (That’s the good news).  If your buyer was to pull out listings that appeared to be similar to yours, at significantly lower prices, where could that leave you if you were not prepared….?

Either appearing stubborn if you don’t adjust your price or caving in and essentially admitting you didn’t know what you were doing, both of which are almost always losing propositions.

How To Properly Show A Car To Potential Buyers

Avoid The Word "No"

Like it or not, if you decided to sell your car on the private market, you are now in sales, and in sales “No” is a bad word.   If someone calls and asks for a discount, don’t say no!

Selling A Car Private Party For Cash

Car buyers are like any shoppers, we get excited at the thought of getting a deal, right?  Think about if you were looking through listings online, and let’s say you found 5 you liked.  If one of those listings said, “Not Negotiable”, how likely would you be to call that seller first?  So, when creating your listing descriptions, talking to people on the phone, or communicating through email, avoid using the words:

 

  • No

  • Firm

  • Not Negotiable

  • This is my best price

  • Serious buyers only

 

Even if you leave out the word “No” in an attempt to be clever, you are probably sending that message anyway, and if not, you may still come off as annoyed, and that isn’t really all that much more enticing for potential buyers.

Avoid Discounts And Keep Away The Buyers That Can’t Afford Your Car

What if I said there was a way to get more money for your car selling it privately, while also keeping away the people who would typically just waste your time?  Well, there is a way, and for most, it would be tricky, but if you do your homework on price, it’s going to be a walk in the park.  So, what’s the plan you ask…..?

How much should you pay for a car

Step#1– When your potential car buyer asks for a discount don’t say no, don’t say yes, say maybe.  This is where you defend your price-  Tell them where you looked, what you saw, who you spoke with, and why you think the price you are offering is “Fair”.

“And That’s Why I Think My Price Is Fair”

Step #2– Give car shoppers the opportunity to work for that discount they want so bad.  Tell them that if they are to find cars comparable yours, in the area (Not 2k miles away for $200 less), that you would be happy to adjust your price.

What you have just accomplished

  1. You haven’t said no
  2. You haven’t said yes
  3. You provided the opportunity for a discount
  4. You avoided attaching a specific number to that discount

Number 4 is worth an extra mention because it’s your failsafe.

Let’s say you made a booh booh on your price research and your buyer finds several similar cars that are a thousand dollars cheaper than yours, do you have to meet those prices?  Not at all, because you never promised to match any prices did you?  All you said was that you would be willing to lower your price, and you will.

But We aren’t done yet…..

Although many of these types of car buyers do a great job of acting as if you are being unreasonable, they have also done their homework and they know exactly what your car is worth, and if your price is fair.  

So, if they know the only way you will budge is if they can show your price is above market, and that they won’t be able to, they” simply move on to the next seller.

How Long Does It Take To Sell A Car Privately?

When all is said and done, and if you don't have a completely undesirable car, you can easily sell any car in under 2 weeks.  And that's getting a price you are comfortable with, not selling out!

Do you pay taxes when you buy a car from a private party?

The only tax paid during the private sale of a car is by the buyer in the form of a sales tax, and this is because the seller, in almost every case, would never be able to show a profit on the car from the day they purchased it to the day they sold it.

Paying Taxes on a private car sale?

The obvious exception would be someone who bought a car to fix up or someone who may have owned a car as a collectible that actually appreciated vs depreciated.  

Although the govt cracks down hard on people flipping cars that don’t report their income, the person selling one collectible car over a significant length of time can probably breathe easy knowing the IRS isn’t too worried about them, unless of course, the profits reach into the millions.

How To Gift A Car In Florida

How-To-Gift-A-Car-In-Florida

Yes, gifting a car in Florida is possible, and no, you do not have to pay sales taxes.  All you need to do is fill out a vehicle title transfer just as you would with any other vehicle.  The only difference is that you will need to document with the person giving the vehicle as a gift that you did not pay for the car.  This can be done with a standard  bill of sale, or with an affidavit.

What Is The Value Of Your Car?

Play Video

Here is a video I created where I discuss my process for pricing a car you intend to sell.  This is exactly how I would price cars from even before I bought them in an auction to the day I sold them on the retail market.  About 17 mins into the video I discuss in more depth the two tips for negotiating the selling price and dealing with potential car buyers when they call or show up.  I certainly recommend a listen if you are still a bit confused or if you just prefer video/audio to reading.

From my experience, car buyers in the private market are usually better prepared than the sellers, so it’s important that you don’t start meeting buyers before you are properly prepared.

 Conclusion (For Now)

I will be adding to this post over time, as I feel there are sure to be more scenarios and questions about this process that I didn’t think to address.  If you have any such topics or questions, please submit them below in the comments section.  My plan, as with all my articles, is to contribute to them over time by answering real questions from real people- You.

So, until next time:  Happy Car Shopping and Selling!

 

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