Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Buying an Inexpensive Car on Craigslist - Part 2


In the second and final installment of 'Buying an Inexpensive Car on Craigslist', I will show you how to safely handle the initial meeting with the seller, how to properly inspect the vehicle, negotiate the price, and FINALLY how to safely purchase your new ride!

Step One: Meeting with the Seller

At this point in the car buying process, you should have already narrowed down your budget, key vehicle attributes, and found a few cars that meet your criteria.

There are two golden rules to follow when meeting with a Craigslist seller to inspect a used car:

1.) Never go alone. Obviously this is a safety precaution against any less than honest individuals, but it also provides another set of eyes that may catch something you have missed. The car buying process is an emotional one, meaning that you may be so stoked about driving that Mercedes convertible with the 6 disc changer, that you completely miss the huge oil leak under the car!

2.) Meet in a fairly busy public place, during daylight ONLY. Even if you aren't carrying the cash to buy your car at the first viewing, the seller may not know that. If you've spoken to the seller thoroughly as instructed in Part 1 of this series, you should have a pretty good feeling of whether or not there are honorable intentions at hand.

Upon your first meeting, stop and chat with the seller before you even begin checking out the car. This will help you establish rapport and you'll have a chance to meet the person who drove the car that may soon be yours. I bought my Civic from a mild-mannered Asian-American accountant, and after speaking with him for 5 minutes I had a pretty good feeling that the car was not driven exceedingly hard or treated poorly.

The seller seemed like an honest straightforward dude, just as our conversation on the phone suggested, so I found it acceptable to proceed to the next step:  Proper Vehicle Inspection.

Step Two: Proper Vehicle Inspection

 Begin by walking around the car and checking out the body. I know that used cars have their share of dents and dings, but take your time and take a 360 degree stroll around the vehicle. One of the cars I viewed, I didn't even get a chance to fully circle the exterior and told the buyer "i know it's a great price, but to be honest, it's a lot more beat up than I had expected. Thanks for your time but I'm going to pass". This saved both my time, and allowed the seller to go on and try to sell to someone else. If you're not interested, just say so. Nobody's feelings will be hurt.

If everything seems kosher after an initial walk around,  I move on to check things like  tire tread-wear, obvious paint jobs (suggesting an accident), and take a quick look under the engine for any leaks.

You don't need to be a mechanic to do this, and it's a lot easier than it seems. Also, if the person accompanying you happens to know more about cars and mechanics, then this is a great opportunity for them to help you on this. Here is a good article I found on used car inspection:

Used Car Inspection Guide (Click Here to View)

This article is an awesome resource on a detailed inspection process of your used car. I would follow the instructions in the article unless you want to buy a several thousand dollar driveway ornament. I'll leave the rest of the inspection section to About.com, as there's no use in repeating what's already been done well.  Print a copy of the About.com article and bring it along when you check out potential cars.

Once a car meets your approval visually, mechanically, and financially, you're almost there! Be sure to thank the seller for their time, and inform them that their car is one of your TOP choices. If you have a few more cars to see that also seem promising, be sure to view these, however make sure you let the owner of the first car know that you are potentially interested and qualified to purchase. Inform them that you will be getting back to them within one hour, one day, or whatever your time frame is for a final decision. Even if you are sure this is the car you want, it's important to take some time before making a final decision.

Step Three: Negotiating the Price

Hopefully by this point you've had the chance to check out a few cars. If your experience was anything like mine, some were alright, and others were downright laughable ("She should pay ME to take that thing!") 8-).

Once you've picked out your car, phone the seller and make an offer. In my case, the owner of the Civic I purchased was asking $4,200. During our initial conversation I discovered that he made a ballpark salary at or above $40,000 a year (I asked him about his job), that he was upgrading to an Infiniti , and that he was recently engaged. Everything pointed to the fact that he did not NEED the money, however he was financially savvy enough to be driving a 1998 Honda Civic with a salary well above the national average. These factors led me to believe that the seller would potentially accept something considerably lower than his asking price.My advantages were that I was paying in cash, and that I could make a decision within just a few hours, allowing him to mark "sell car"off of his to-do list.

In the following hour, I researched the private party value of the car on both KBB.com and Edmunds.com; Note that KBB.Com is a pain in the ass to use, so I suggest Edmunds.com .  I found that the PRIVATE PARTY VALUE in GOOD CONDITION was $4,100. I called him up and offered $3,400, being sure to mention that I had "cash in hand" and could pick-up ASAP.

Being the financially savvy accountant that he was, the seller declined my offer. I told him I would try to come up with more money if I could, but I was already going to have to eat ramen noodles for the next month to be able to come up with the $3,400. This was partially true.

At this point, I briefly browsed Craigslist on my iPhone one last time, finding no other cars that even came close to being as good a fit that this car was. I made up my mind: I had to have it.

After borrowing a few hundred more dollars from my family, I called the seller back and told him that I had $3,800, that i could not find a penny more. I was sure to mention how this would be a nice, sizable down payment for his new Infiniti.

After a brief hesitation he accepted. Score!

Step Four: Safely Purchasing your New (Used) Car!

The price is decided and you're a short while away from driving off in your brand new (used) car! Before you head off to any dark alleys with a fresh bank envelope, be sure to read this section for a hassle free transaction.

After deciding on the final price, set up a time and location for the transaction to take place. Again, ensure that you

1.)Bring along a friend or family member, the more large and intimidating the better
2.) Meet at a Populated Public Place during daylight in view of plenty of people.

(I elected to meet at an upscale shopping center parking lot, however there's no reason you couldn't opt for the parking lot of your local police station. Don't get the wrong idea and think that this is a potentially dangerous transaction, it isn't. However, there are certain people in the world who rob and steal, so it's always better to err on the side of caution!)

Before leaving though, be sure to print off and bring with you a 'Bill of Sale', like the printer-friendly version found here:

 Printable Bill of Sale. Print off 2 copies just in case.

    • Note: Not all states require a Bill of Sale for the transfer of a vehicle from one private party to another. In fact, my state did not require a bill of sale, however the peace of mind that goes along with having an extra piece of paper documenting the transaction could prevent future headaches! There's no reason not to.

Once you've arrived at the destination, greet the seller again and give the car one last quick lookover before you sign your name on the title. Once the ink dries, there is no turning back, so make sure you are 100% positive about your decision.

You should leave the money in the car until you are ready to sign over the title.

Make sure that whoever is accompanying you is alert for anything that seems odd, however at this point you should feel very confident in the trustworthiness of the seller. If you are hesitant in any manner, now is the time to walk away.

The Final Paperwork

First, fill out the Bill of Sale and make sure that the Seller's information matches the information found on the title. Next, get the cash and watch the seller count it to give you the okay that it is all there. If everything is kosher, sign your name on the title and the vehicle is now legally yours. Till death do you part. Make sure you give the seller their license plate and ask if there are any spare keys or remotes.

Part ways, and enjoy your new ride.

Congratulations! You've just purchased a new car for thousands less than what you would have paid at a dealer. Be sure to perform all scheduled maintenance, keep good records, and drive the speed limit. Well, the last part is up to you.

I hope this has been helpful, please click the Google '+1 ' button below or leave a comment. Feel free to link to this blog or send it to any family or friends!

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Buying an Inexpensive Used Car on Craigslist - Part 1 of 2

A few months ago while cruising down the highway headed home from work, my engine suddenly shut off and a light mist began rising up from between the narrow gaps between the front fenders and the hood of my car. Luckily, I was far enough to the right side of the road that I was able to coast off to the next exit and pull to the side of the road.

Once I achieved a safe distance between myself and the cars zipping by at 80+ MPH, I tried to start the car to no avail. One call to AAA and 20 minutes later, the car was towed to the local dealership for inspection.  24 hours later i'm being asked over the phone whether i consent to have a new engine installed, for the low price of $4,000. Seeing as how the car with a functional engine was worth $3,000 on a good day, I declined.

Being a recent college grad unable to find any trees with money growing from them, my chances of getting a new vehicle within a short amount of time appeared bleak.

My initial thought was to take out a loan. After a brief investigation of the astronomical payments and endless stipulations involved, I decided that I needed to wait until I was making the big bucks for a step like that.

I decided that my best bet would be to buy an inexpensive used car off of a website like Craigslist. I'd had plenty of successful experience on Craigslist in the past buying items ranging from iPhones to living room furniture, so logic told me that I should also be able to find an inexpensive car.  I just needed something that could get me to and from work, that didn't smell like an ashtray or wet clothes, and that a female companion wouldn't be too embarrassed to ride in. Easy enough, right?

Right! After a week, I found that exact car. This two part article will break down the process of how to buy an inexpensive and reliable car of of Craigslist. Forget Autotrader and sleazy car dealers!

In part one of this two part post, I will cover how to define specific attributes that you must have  in your used car, how to find the car that fits those attributes, and how to weed out the honest private sellers  from the possibly not so honest, for-profit car dealers.


Step One: Define your Guidelines

1. ) The first and most important step when buying a car from Craigslist is to define what you are able to spend.  I wanted to avoid a car payment at all costs, so I set my budget to $3,400; all the money I had saved for a rainy day. Well, actually it was all my parents would loan me (interest free!), so I decided to try and make it work. You will be surprised how much car a small sum can buy.

2.)Define what attributes you NEED in your car: In my case, I had to have a Japanese car that was good on gas, reliable, had a manual transmission, and was not aesthetically bankrupt.Obviously, the larger your budget, the more choices you will have, but remember...a new car is fun, but expensive car payments are not.

Pontiac Aztec  : Aesthetically Bankrupt

3.) If you don't need financing, recognize the value of buying from a private seller.

Buying from a private seller has the following benefits:
  • Less markup = Overall Lower Price
  • More bargaining room, especially on cars that have been paid off
  • Less likely to encounter pressure or underhanded tactics from seller
  • No sales tax

    • HINT: Craigslist divides its Cars+Trucks section up into two parts: Listings By Dealer and Private Party Listings. When browsing the private seller section, ALWAYS ask the seller whether they are a dealer or not at the outset. Dealers FREQUENTLY post ads in the private seller section that appear to be an individual, when in fact they're just a dealer looking to draw in unsuspecting customers.

Step Two: Find cars that fit your specific guidelines

After defining your guidelines, now comes the fun part, surfing the web for used cars that fit your criteria.

During this phase, you narrow down the list of models to fit your needs and ballpark price range. I found that only a few cars fit my criteria well, a 1998-2001 Honda Civic, and a 1998-2002 Nissan Altima.

Asking price is merely a suggestion, Always search for cars a few hundred dollars above your price range and negotiate later.

Step Three: Preparing to Schedule Appointments

Once you've narrowed down a few makes and models that fit your criteria, it's time to start setting appointments to view some prospective cars in person.

It's best to set aside a full day during the weekend for your initial search, especially if you are looking to buy soon. Weekends are best as most people are off of work and you're able to see many cars in one day.

I've found that most postings include a phone number, so it is a good idea to set appointments for a Saturday or Sunday the night before.Setting appointments any further than a day in advance is generally not a good practice unless you live in a region with a low population density, or the car has a low demand (think Pontiac Aztec pictured above).

You CAN find an inexpensive, reliable used car on Craigslist, but it has been my experience that these do NOT last long, and you have to do some digging.

Step Four: The initial Phone Call

This is the single most important step in buying the right used car on Craigslist. Your first contact with the seller of your potential new car is very important. In order to assure you make the most of your time, there are certain questions that you should ask via telephone prior to viewing the car in person.

Have a set list of questions ready for each person you talk to. Whenever you ask a question, be sure to listen attentively and let the seller talk. When you hear their responses, what is your gut telling you? Does it say: "Wow, it sounds like this guy took tremendous care of this car", or  "What kind of driver was he that the car needed a new engine, clutch, front & rear bumper, paint job, and airbags within the last year?"

Initial Questions:
  • I like the (insert feature worth complimenting here) about the car, it looks really clean. How long have you had the car?
  • Does it have a clear title? 
  • Do you have the title in hand?
  • Why are you selling it?
  • Can you tell me a little bit about some of the maintenance that's been done?
  • Do you have the maintenance records?
  • Has it ever been in any accidents?
  • Can you think of any issues with the car, mechanically or cosmetically? Any leaks?
  • So what kind of car are you going to get next? (This question may seem irrelevant, but I find it helps determine whether the seller really used the car or if they are simply selling it for a profit, i.e. a dealer)

During the first call, the seller should do most of the talking. Treat it like a conversation, rather than an interrogation, but  always keep in mind the questions you need to get answered. There were several instances early on in the search when my lack of asking enough questions over the phone resulted in wasted 30 minute drives to view cars that either had unmentioned problems, or were in way worse shape than the pictures led to believe!

In Article II that follows, I will go over how to SAFELY handle the initial in person meeting, properly inspect the car, negotiate on a fair price, and how to safely complete the transaction.

PART 2 is now up. Please be sure to click the Google '+1' button or tweet if this article was helpful!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guide to Staying Safe while Selling on Craigslist

Whenever I talk to someone about Craigslist who hasn't ever used the site before, I'm often asked, "Isn't Craigslist dangerous???"

I always tell them "Well, it's about as dangerous as crossing the street... it can be if your eyes are closed."

1.) Talk to the person on the phone before agreeing to meet. 
The initial contact that someone sends you on Craigslist is via e-mail, but make sure you speak to them on the phone before setting up a meeting. Let's say you get an e-mail like this:

I would reply with something like this:
Hey Mike,

I'm in "Insert Your City". What's a good number to reach you at so we can set up a time?

Your name

 This type of reply accomplishes a two-fold purpose:
  1. You get a chance to talk to the person on the phone before deciding whether to give out any personal information or meet with them
  2.  You're able to establish the seriousness of the prospective buyer, or to determine if they're a "tire kicker" or "low baller". These two types of people will waste your time, and are to be avoided at all costs. Refer to the Craigslist Glossary for definitions of these terms
In the few years I've been buying and selling on Craigslist, there has only been one instance when I had an "iffy" feeling about a person i had spoken with on the phone. I gave them a polite excuse, saved their number as "DO NOT ANSWER" in my cell phone, and sold to someone else.

When dealing on Craigslist,it's good practice to follow the advice of the Iron Chancellor:

"Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness."

2.) If possible, meet in a public place during daylight hours

  • Places like Starbucks are great because they're nearly always crowded. Also, If the item you're selling is an iPod or something else that needs to be tested, this is a great way for you to sit down with the buyer to do so.
  • As the seller, you choose the location. Feel free to choose somewhere convenient. Delivery or driving long distances should be out of the question.

"But what if i'm selling a large item?"

If you're selling something large like a piece of furniture or an appliance, making meeting in a public place impractical, here are some good practices:
  1. Make sure that the buyer has somebody able-bodied with them to help load the item and adequate transportation ( usually a truck or Large SUV). Buyers usually expect to have to load large items themselves.
  2. Have someone else at home with you when the buyer comes.
  3. If possible, move the item to the garage or a front room for a smooth pickup.

 In any selling situation, a good way to feel more at ease is to have a friend or family member with you. Remember, you'll be making some extra cash, so a bribe of ice cream or beer will usually do the trick!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Add Large Photos to your Craigslist Posting

To begin, navigate to www.Claspics.com:

-If you don't already have an account, create one!

-Once Logged in click on the 'Upload a New Album' button:

-Click the 'Select Images' button and navigate to the location of the images on your computer. 

***Time saving Hint- To select all images in a single folder, hold down Ctrl+A!***

-After you have all of the images you want to post selected click 'OK'. You should now see your images in thumbnail format. Here is an example of a kayak i'm listing:

-Click the 'Upload' button to upload your gallery!

-After your images have finished uploading, you'll be taken to a page that has the HTML code that you need to copy to your Craigslist ad:

Before you copy the code, make sure you sort the images in your gallery by clicking the 'Sort Images' link:

-Simply drag and drop the images.  
***It's a good practice to put the best image first as this will be the first image that buyers see in your ad!***

-Click 'Done' on the Sort Images page when you're finished. This will bring you back to the Ad code page.

-Select your HTML code, right click it, and select 'Copy'

-Now, navigate to your Craigslist posting, and Paste the selected code into your ad. It should resemble this:

-Before clicking 'Continue', lets add a large font title as well as center the allignment of our ad. 
-Right now, our add looks like this. Still pretty boring...

 - In the next step, type this bit of code underlined in yellow BEFORE the large block of HTML that you copied a minute ago from ClassPics.com.
-Be sure to add the title of YOUR ITEM where it says 'enter your title here'

-Once you've done this, we have one more tiny bit of code to add AFTER the HTML text you copied from ClasPics.com.Type the line of code that's underlined in yellow:

The home stretch: Click 'Continue' at the bottom of the ad to preview your post. Here is what your new and improved post with image gallery should look like:

-With ClasPics.com, addling large photos to your Craislist postings is fairly easy. It may take a few minutes the first few times you post this way, but the a good Craigslist ad can mean all the difference when it comes to the sale.

Feel free to leave comments with any questions or feedback! 
- Jake

Monday, July 11, 2011

Free Craigslist Hit Counter - Add Counter to Craigslist Posting!

The following article will explain:
  • How to add a hit counter to your Craigslist Ad
  • Why you should ad a hit counter to your Craigslist Ad

Choose your desired font style, color, and size.

Next, click "I like it, gimme the code".

From here, you'll receive the code to your counter. Click "Select All", Right click the selected code and choose "Copy" or simply hit Ctrl+ C on your keyboard.

Now, navigate to your craigslist posting, and paste the code at the very bottom of your ad:

Publish your ad as normal and you'll now see your counter on your page. Interesting to note that each time YOU visit or even refresh your ad, the counter will increase by 1.

Why put a hit counter on your Craigslist Ad?

A hit counter can let you know the effectiveness of your posting titles.

Have something that you're selling but just isn't getting that much attention? Try re-posting the item with a different title, to see if this nets you more clicks.

I found that the hit counter is also an excellent way of measuring the best times to post your ads. Try reposting items like electronics and sporting goods closer to the weekend, as these purchases are rarely made during the work week.

Top Small-Business Sites

Sunday, July 10, 2011

3 tips on choosing what you should sell on Craigslist

"What should I sell on Craigslist?"

I began reselling on Craigslist by accident. About two years ago, I had a fairly expensive bicycle that I no longer used, and I was looking for a way to sell it. I originally thought of eBay, but the shipping costs for large items were incredibly expensive.
Per the suggestion of a friend, i decided to post the bike up on Craigslist to see what would happen. It was a success...I sold my bike for only $50 less than I paid for it over 2 years ago! I had expected to get a quarter of what I originally paid for it!

When people ask me how they should get their feet wet in the Craigslist reselling business, I always recommend that they begin by selling items that they no longer use. This helps newbies become acquainted with the Craigslist interface, and allows them to learn how transactions are handled. 

If you don't have anything worth selling at the moment, don't worry. A good idea is to ask friends and neighbors if they have anything they don't use anymore that they would like to get rid of.

Propose to them that you get a percentage of the sale price for taking the pictures, posting the ad, and dealing with buyers.

If you successfully make a sale for someone, ask them if they know anyone else who might have some unwanted items of value that they would like to get rid of. It never ceases to amaze me how much "Stuff" people hold on to that they never even use! Use your imagination when looking for items to sell.

Some of the best people to sell for are family, family friends, and other relatives; especially those who aren't very technically savvy. They get satisfaction from helping you out, along with some extra money for something they no longer used.

What you need to get started:
  • Digital Camera (Or Cell Phone w/good camera)
  • Computer w/ Internet Access
  • Stuff you no longer use to convert to cash.
  • Information from http://Craigs4Profit.Blogspot.com (Frequently Updated)
I've met 12 year olds who have posted their video game consoles on Craigslist and sold them within a few days. With no start up cost and a minimal investment of your time, Craigslist is king for making extra cash.

Godspeed,and stay tuned for more articles!

-Jake B.

Welcome to Craigs4Profit.com

The purpose of this blog is to teach people how to use Craigslist.com to make money.

There are various methods to do this, some better than others. The important thing to remember is that if you have a computer with internet access, then you can make money on craigslist. Whether you're 16 or 67, all it takes is a little practice and you can be making $500 a week in as little as 3 weeks.

I will document some of the techniques that have been successful for me in the past, as well as others that haven't been so successful.

I started this blog because I have been buying and selling on craigslist for profit for more than 2 years, and feel that it's time for me to contribute to others what i've learned.

I appreciate any feedback or suggestions, and I can be reached via e-mail through the contact form on the left sidebar.

Thanks, and good luck Craigslisting!

Best wishes, Jake B.