Car Buying Etiquette: the unspoken rules of the private party sale
1.) My advertisement included, depending on the site on which you found it, either my city or the distance in miles from your location. Please do not call me and then say "Oh, that's too far for me to drive." It is not my job to bring the product to YOU. You don't call Target, ask if they sell Xbox games, and then say they're too far away and would they bring them to you for you to test out? No. If I am too far away, then don't waste your time or mine by calling.
2.) My advertisement was very thorough. Among other things, it gave the year, make, model, mileage, number of doors, style of transmission, and color. Please do me the courtesy of READING the ad before you call. I put a lot of thought into making my ad informative and comprehensive because I did not want to repeat the color and mileage to every person that called. I welcome questions that are not answered in my ad but please, the basics are already posted for a reason.
3.) When a price is followed by "OBO", it means that YES, I am flexible on the price. "Must sell" generally means I'm in a hurry. Make me an offer, you might be surprised.
4.) Do not ask "What's the least you'll take for it?". Not only is this a stupid question on your part, because it shows poor negotiating skills and an inability to estimate the value of the vehicle, it would be remarkably stupid for me to answer it. Nobody is ACTUALLY going to tell you the least amount they will accept for their car. Everybody has three numbers in mind when selling a car: first, the amount they list it for, second, the amount they'd LIKE to sell it for, and third, the amount they absolutely must sell it for in order to avoid being scalped or in the red. The only way you will uncover that final price is to make an offer, generally a few hundred less than you think the car is worth. They may accept or they may counter. This is the bargaining system. What does NOT work is to ask for their bottom line. They will either refuse to give it to you (and thereafter consider you cheap, and assume you are trying to cheat them) or they will give you an artificially inflated number.. higher than what they would ACTUALLY be willing to sell it for, but since you're not playing the game, why should they?
5.) Do not ask me how much I still owe on it. Not only is that none of your business, I am smart enough to realize it is only a different way of asking "What's the least you'll take for it?". Please see item #4.
6.) Do not call, ask me questions, sound interested, get my address, arrange a time to come by, and then never show up. This is unbelievably rude. I do have a life that does not revolve around selling my car, and odds are I cancelled or refused plans because I expected you to come by. If I am willing to arrange my schedule for your convenience, please do me the courtesy of keeping your appointment.
7.) Do not show up, drive the car, be really interested and say you want to buy it but "your dad/friend/cousin has to come look at it" or "you couldn't get money from the bank today" and you'll call me tomorrow. My feelings are not going to be hurt if you're not interested in buying my car. Give me the universally accepted code for "not interested": "I have a few more cars to look at."
8.) Do not INSULT my carefully-kept, well-maintained car while test-driving, especially if you pulled up in a car worth approximately my front end. You know who you are! I know what game you're playing and I'm not impressed. I'm not suddenly going to think "Oh my God, you're right, I never replaced the rims with 20" chromes, what was I thinking?? Please, take it off my hands!!" and accept your lowball offer. In fact, while we drove and you made snide remarks about my tint (quality, but not limo), my rims (alloy, but not chrome), my stereo (new mp3 player, but not Bose), and my AC (which would work a lot better if you TURNED ON THE AC BUTTON!!), my bottom-line number slowly went up. I wouldn't have budged at all on the price for YOU.
9.) While we're at it, don't test drive my car like you're drag racing. Yes, I understand you want to get on it and see how it performs. It's not necessary to floor the gas at every stop on a three-block circuit.
10.) I'd appreciate it if you watched the curbs, too. :)
11.) Do not (actually, this probably should have been #1) ask for my husband to talk on the phone, meet you at a gas station, or go on test drives. First of all, I'm not married, not that it's any of your business. Secondly, it is MY car. I paid for and did the repairs MYSELF. *I* paid $200 a month to the bank and *I* paid the obscene insurance premiums. *I* noticed when it started acting funny and *I* did the oil changes. It's MY phone number in the ad, MY name on the title and buster, if you're interested, you're going to haggle with ME. So it's probably not a good idea to insult me in favor of him, because *I'm* the one who decides whether or not you are going home with my car. He's only there because I realize you think I'm too stupid to know anything about my car and for some reason, having a Y chromosome standing silently next to me makes you think I know what I'm talking about. (That, and because the one time he wasn't there I got stuck with the jackass who drove like he had a small-penis complex and insulted the hell out of my car.)
12.) And finally, your respect wins mine. :) If you act suspicious, accuse me of lying (no matter how subtle), try to weasel "dirt" out of me with roundabout questions and coyly talk about "that other car" whose owner would take less than I'm asking, I'm going to play hardball, too. If you are pleasant, punctual, courteous, respectful and honest, I will be, too. I am looking for a win-win situation. Let's keep this game honest and we'll all come out ahead!!