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Getting a good price for your car

Not everyone has the savvy of a used car salesman. But many people do need to sell a car from time to time. So how do you do it? Our auto pro, Steve Strope, has some easy tips on how to get top dollar for your vehicle.

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles boasts more than 350 rare and classic cars in its collection. The most expensive car in the collection is this 2006 Bugatti Veyron. Its sticker price: $1,260,000. When you own a Bugatti, you don't have to worry about depreciation.

But most of us don't own cars like this. And if you're thinking about selling your car, there are a few things you can do to attract a buyer and get top dollar.

"The first thing to do is figure out your asking price based on your car's make, model, age, mileage and condition," says Steve. "You may have a certain dollar amount in your head, but what you want and what the market will bear are two different things."

Check on Craigslist and other online sites where people advertise cars for sale and see what they're asking for a car like yours. Once you have the average price, check Edmunds.com or the Kelly Blue Book web site for the dealer trade-in value of your car based on its condition.

If you price your car too high, buyers won't call you. But make sure to leave yourself $500 to $800 wiggle room. Nobody wants to pay someone's asking price, so build in a number for the buyer to negotiate down to.

Here are some other tips:

  • Do it yourself or pay to have it done, but detailing your car raises its "perceived" value. And that can mean getting up to $1,000 more for it than if you don't detail it.
  • Take good photos of the car for your ad. If your car looks better than the other guy's, you're more likely to attract a serious buyer.
  • When writing your ad, be honest. If you build up the car to be better than it is, your credibility will be shot. No sale!
  • Having all your car's service records helps bolster the car's "factual" value. So if you've kept them, be ready to show them to potential buyers.
  • Be sure to check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles for the proper procedure for transferring a car's title. Have the necessary paperwork ready for your buyer to sign.

"Remember, when it comes to buying and selling cars, cash is king," says Steve. "Sometimes not having to wait for a check clearing and getting the deal done is worth taking a little less. But make sure you know your rock-bottom line cash price ahead of time."

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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