It seems like everyone has an opinion about Craigslist, the popular website for buying and selling. You either love it or hate it. I’m in the love it camp. It’s free, easy to use, and is accessed by millions of people everyday (60 million per month in the US alone). Sure, you can find scammers and shady people on the site, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. The overwhelming majority of craigslist users are honest and trustworthy.
I’ve been a steady Craigslist user for nearly 10 years now and have sold and bought countless items on it, including a dozen RV’s and cars. After the recent sale of my 2011 Jeep Compass and the purchase of a 1998 Jeep Wrangler, I thought I would present my thoughts on what works and doesn’t work when selling a vehicle on Craigslist–the dos and don’ts. This advice is needed because it’s obvious that some are clueless and have no idea what they’re doing. Fortunately, being good at selling on Craigslist isn’t rocket science, but it does take a little effort to prepare an effective ad that will get the attention of prospective buyers and gain their trust. While the main focus is on selling Jeeps these tips are equally applicable to selling RV’s. So without any further adieu, here are my 10 dos and don’ts for selling a Jeep on Craigslist.
1. DO provide meaningful photographs.
The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is especially true when it comes to selling on Craigslist. Yet, I’ve lost count on how many ads I’ve seen that have no pictures or just one or two exterior shots of the car and that’s it. Nearly everyone nowadays has a smartphone with an HD camera. I strongly recommend at least eight exterior and interior pictures of the vehicle. I also recommend a pic of the odometer (buyers like to see proof that what you’re saying about the mileage is truthful). Be sure to snap pics of any damage. Oh, and please ensure that the photos you choose are clear with good lighting and are presented professionally in your ad (not sideways or upside down. Yep, this is pretty common).
2. DO list your vehicle for a fair and reasonable price.
What’s a fair and reasonable price? Go to one of the car appraisal websites like Kelley Blue Book, NADA, or Edmunds and get one. If you don’t take the time to perform this simple step then you’ll likely have trouble selling your car. One doofus who lives here in Phoenix is currently asking $4,000 more for his Jeep Wrangler than the current Blue Book price. Hello?! Nobody is going to pay over the blue book price for any car unless it’s a rare classic or limited edition vehicle, is in unbelievable condition, and is loaded with options and extras. Guys (and gals) who are guilty of this are probably the same ones who wonder why their car hasn’t sold after having it listed for over two months.
3. DO provide a detailed write-up.
I often come across ads that provide only a brief sentence about the car and that’s it. Sure, this brevity gets your ad published quicker, but it also really hurts your chances at getting a quick sale. Buyers want information that will help them weed out the good cars from the bad, so take your time and provide a solid paragraph of information about the vehicle’s history including modifications and repairs that you’ve made as well as any existing issues. Oh, and use the data fields that Craigslist provides for selling cars. These fields provide valuable info like year, mileage, condition, and number of cylinders, and are used extensively by prospective buyers when conducting vehicle searches.
4. DO detail your vehicle.
Several years ago my wife and I looked at a filthy, smelly, poor excuse of a car that still had fast food wrappers and old french fries on the backseat floor. It was obvious the car hadn’t been touched before the lazy fool showed it to us. Needless to say, we passed on that car and bought another. Oh, and the Jeep I recently bought wasn’t detailed either. It had bird crap on the hood, a nasty lookin’ dash carpet with glue all over the dashboard, a badly faded hard top, and dog hair still embedded in the carpet. I was able to look past these annoyances to see the positives, but there’s no doubt I would’ve paid a little more if the guy had taken the time to make the Jeep more presentable.
5. DO respond to queries.
A big pet peeve of mine. Be courteous and respond to all queries about your vehicle. Getting responses doesn’t seem to be that big of an issue for those who like to text, but it is for those who like to conduct business via email. Indeed, it seems like half the time you never get a response and if you do, it’s two or three days later. Very annoying. The bottom line is to provide a timely response to each query whether it’s by phone, email, or text. If you sold your vehicle, say so in your responses. Oh, if you do arrange a time for a meet up, please be on time. Being late for an appointment is considered extremely rude and is no way to get on the good side of a prospective buyer.
6. DO provide an asking price.
You would think this would be a no brainer, but there’s a guy here in Phoenix who is currently trying to sell his Jeep without an asking price. His ad states that he had invested over $34,000 total in his Jeep. Prospective buyers are left to guess on a price and nobody wants to play a guessing and waiting game on Craigslist. If you want to take bids on your vehicle, Craigslist is not the place to do it, the place to do it is called Ebay. Not surprising, his ad was still up after two months with no apparent end in sight. Needless to say, I didn’t provide an offer and told the guy good luck trying to sell his Jeep that way.
7. DON’T list your Salvage titled vehicle at or near Blue Book.
This goes hand-in-hand with number two. I get tired of morons with Salvage or Rebuilt titled cars trying to get $1,000 below Blue Book claiming it’s a great deal. IT’S NOT! According to Consumer Reports, cars with Salvage or Rebuilt titles are worth 50 percent of Blue Book and sometimes less. Unless you’re mechanically inclined and plan on keeping the car forever, I would stay away from vehicles with Salvage and Rebuilt titles. There’s no way of knowing with complete certainty what damage was done to them. There’s simply too much risk. Insuring them can also be a problematic with some insurance companies.
8. DON’T lie or be misleading about problems with your vehicle.
If there are problems with the car, state them in your ad. People appreciate honesty. If you’re up front about issues it helps build trust and trust is big if you want to sell your vehicle. One Jeep I recently looked at had body damage that wasn’t stated anywhere in the ad or in the photographs that were posted (unbelievably, the condition of this Jeep was listed as “excellent” in the ad). If I knew about this damage ahead of time I wouldn’t have wasted two hours of driving time and gas to go out and look at it. Needless to say, I was pretty ticked off. Right then and there I knew this wasn’t a guy who I trusted or wanted to do business with. Oh, and it goes without saying that you should be truthful about the overall condition, excellent means excellent as the car stands today, not after conducting body and engine repairs.
9. DON’T sell your vehicle out from another buyer.
I hear about this happening all the time. Sure, first come, first served applies, but be considerate to those who may be traveling a long way to buy your item. This situation was presented to me several years ago when I was selling a KZ Frontier travel trailer to a guy from Salt Lake City, a 650 mile drive. While he was on his way to Phoenix, I had another guy in New Mexico offer me $500 dollars more if I would sell it to him. Needless to say, I told the guy, no. There’s no way I was going to screw the other guy over even for half a G in cash. I believe in Karma. Treat others how you want to be treated–the Golden Rule. If you do, Craigslist can be a great resource where you can buy and sell without getting burned.
10. DON’T leave your Craigslist ad online after you’ve sold your vehicle.
This one has probably happened to all of us at one time or another and is one of my biggest pet peeves. You scour the listings for an hour or two and find exactly what you’re looking for. With a twinge of excitement, you text the guy about his sweet lookin’ truck, but are told it was sold two weeks ago. What!! Look! If you’re going to use Craigslist to sell your truck for free the least you can do is pull your ad after the sale. It only takes a few seconds and a couple clicks to delete your ad. Enough said.
Those are my 10 dos and don’ts for selling a Jeep on Craigslist. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with anything I said in this list? Let me know.