We recently found ourselves in a situation where we had a used car and no need to buy a new car. So, trading the car in was not an option. With two adult children headed off to college away, we had more cars in the fleet than made sense. So our beloved (sort of) 2007 Honda Fit Sport with 129,300 miles drew the short straw.
Selling A Used Car – Kelly Blue Book Instant Cash Offer (ICO)
Torque News and the staff are all fans of Kelly Blue Book. We have colleagues we respect that work at the company, and we have very often used the site’s data in our stories. We also find that KBB has one of the fastest and best online tools for evaluating a used vehicle’s value. So, we started there.
To our surprise, the folks at KBB have set up a program that allows sellers to sell the car “to KBB.” Actually, it is to a local agent participating in the KBB instant cash offer program. Our local agent is Bill Dube Hyundai. We know the dealership's location well. It is across from where we shop and get coffee.
Bill Dube Hyundai responded instantly with an offer of $1,785 for the Fit. While that was not an offer we completely discounted, it seemed low to us given the listings for similar Honda Fits we were seeing online. Bill Dube Hyundai also followed up respectfully via phone and e-mail. Nice people. Not pushy, just helpful. We will consider that dealership for a new car in the future.
Our next consideration was to use CarMax. However, like the KBB experience, we expected to be lowballed. Our research also indicated we would have to visit, and with the social distancing mandates, we preferred to skip that step. Round-trip, we expected to need to allocate about two or three hours to have CarMax evaluate the car. Time two full-time working parents with children simply don't want to spend.
Other Online Sales Options
Before we opted for Craigslist, We looked at another popular option online. However, we found the registration process too involved. Too much of a bother. We spent about 30 minutes learning how to use it and then decided we would rather drive the car off a cliff than deal with the hassles. We will leave the name of the organization out of the story. Let's just say that for a site with such a popular name, it sure felt like a hassle.
Craigslist Used Car Sales
When I say “we” in this story, I refer to my wife and I. Normally, “we” in a Torque News story refers to our Torque News organization. In this case, I’m not far off. My wife sometimes writes guest articles for Torque News and for an associated website. In any case, we are a partnership with a variety of skills between us. Although neither of us had a Craigslist account, my wife purchases things on the internet more often than I do, so I took the photos and wrote out a short description of the car, and she did the posting. I was in the room from the time she started until she finished. It took her under 10 minutes from the time she sat down until the posting was up with an asking price of $2,800. Having determined a fair market value of the car was $2,900, we set our target price at $2,500. Could we have gotten $3K? Maybe, with some time and effort. Neither of which we wanted to invest. Our goal was never to get “top dollar” for this used car. It was to sell it on at a fair price to the buyer as easily as possible.
The Craigslist Used Car Miracle
Within 10 minutes of our five-dollar Craigslist posting, we had five offers to buy the car sight-unseen. The very first came from a local small used car dealer. He offered us a bank check or cash for $2,500 and said he could be at the house to do the deal in 45 minutes! As it turned out, we could not react that quickly. So, we asked him to come in an hour. He was there on the dot.
The buyer looked the car over, offered his license for me to photograph, and affixed a dealer plate. He asked that we sign and send the title via trackable mail since my wife (the official owner) was out. He handed us a bank check (our choice over cash), held out his hand for the keys, and the deal was completed. By my watch, in under an hour and a half since the Craigslist ad was posted. We never had to take the vehicle anyplace, nor did we need to allow anyone to test drive it.
Our “proof by single example” story is not intended to be a full review of the Craigslist process, nor is it our intent to imply everyone will have such a great experience. All we can do is report our findings and wish other used car sellers the very best of luck with their sale.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on the Torque News Facebook Page, and view his credentials at Linkedin
Honda Fit Images by John Goreham. KBB offer image courtesy of KBB.