Selling a car online: motorists will accept lower price for easier sale

When it comes to selling your old motor, it seems many drivers are happy to accept a lower sales price if it means a straightforward process.

For most motorists, picking up a new car is at least partially reliant on selling your existing motor.

The more money you get for that old model, the easier it is to afford your new vehicle.

However, it seems that many drivers are happy to sacrifice getting the top price possible for their old motor.

A study from the used-car marketplace Motorway.co.uk found that two-thirds of drivers are willing to sell their car for less than it’s worth if doing so made the process more straightforward.

This is borne from experience too ‒ of those who have sold a car, more than half (54%) reckoned they had accepted a price under its real value.

This wasn’t small change being sacrificed either, at an average of £977 under the valuation.

Ultimately, the amount we get when selling our old car often comes down to the method we are using for selling it.

The less work that’s involved, the smaller the price you’re likely to get for your car.

Selling it yourself

If you are hoping to make the absolute most from selling your old car, then there’s no escaping the fact that you are going to have to put in some work.

That means selling the car directly to its next owner. There are all sorts of ways you can go about drumming up interest in the motor.

It could be something simple like sticking a note in the window, highlighting that it’s available for sale.

Or you could try to reach a broader number of potential buyers, for example by listing the car on Facebook Marketplace or listing it through the likes of AutoTrader.

It’s up to you to connect with those buyers, so you’ll need to put together a quality advert.

You then have to communicate with interested parties, arranging times and dates for them to take a look at the vehicle, as well as negotiating sales price.

Selling your car in this way isn’t easy though.

There’s no guarantee of finding a buyer swiftly, if at all, so you may be waiting a while before you actually manage to close the deal.

You also have to handle all of the negotiations yourself, all of the visits from potential buyers.

That might work for you if you’re happy playing the role of salesman, but if you’re not comfortable doing that then it may dent your chances of a big sale.

Check out our guide to selling on AutoTrader.

Making use of a car buying website

An alternative route for selling a car comes through car buying websites.

There’s no shortage of them, from Motorway.co.uk to WeBuyAnyCar.com, and while they all work in slightly different ways, fundamentally the idea is that you can get a quick sale for a good price.

With a car-buying website, you aren’t selling directly to another motorist.

Instead, you’ll be selling to a dealership, either directly or through the website.

This is important to bear in mind, as it guarantees that you’ll never get the absolute highest possible price when using these sites ‒ no matter how much the site offers you, they always think that they can find a driver who will pay for your car from them, meaning they make a profit.

Generally, you can get an initial quote from the firm, simply by sharing the vehicle’s registration plate and a few details like the mileage and service history.

This price doesn’t tend to be set in stone, with the car buying firm wanting to check the motor over in-person to ensure it matches your description. 

Here at loveMONEY we’ve written a host of guides on how the various car buying websites work, and how to go about getting the best price you can through them. Check out our comprehensive guide to selling your car online.

Going the part-exchange route

Perhaps the easiest way to sell a car is by part-exchanging it with the dealer when purchasing your new motor.

The idea is that the dealer will take the car off your hands, and drop the price of your new car to boot.

It can seem like an incredibly attractive option, not least because of how easy it is, handling both the purchase and the sale in a single deal.

However, ultimately it’s one way to guarantee that you won’t get a good price for the car.

First and foremost, let’s remember that the dealership will only take the car if they think they can sell it on elsewhere for a profit. That guarantees that they will pay less than it’s worth.

But there’s a further negative here, in that the dealership knows you are committed to the car you’re buying.

They have you in a vulnerable position, where your heart is set on that new motor, and will likely take almost any price to seal the deal for that new set of wheels.

Yes, selling through a part exchange is nice and straightforward, but that simplicity comes at a hefty price.

Finding what works for you

In the end, there isn’t really a ‘right’ way to sell a car, simply the right way for you. For some people, who want to get the best possible price and who don’t mind taking on the role of salesman, it makes sense to do it directly.

However, if you don’t have the time to spend playing such an active role in the sale, then you will have to accept sacrificing at least some of the value of the vehicle in order for a swifter sale. 

For me, using a car buying site is the perfect middle ground ‒ you will likely get a better price than if you part-exchange, but it’s still a quick and easy experience.

We have partnered with Motorway to help you sell your car - simply enter your details in the box below. Please be assured  that, although we may receive a commission if you decide to sell your car, this won't affect the price Motorway offers you.

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