The carbuying process is stressful no matter what, and working with professional salespeople at a dealership can be intimidating. It's can be even more difficult to negotiate with someone who is not a professional, but buying a car directly from another person can be a cost-effective way to get a new set of wheels. With that in mind, it's important for you to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing directly from a private seller, and you'll want to keep certain details in mind to ensure you get a deal.
What makes a private sellers a good choice?
Cost is the biggest reason to avoid the dealership and buy from a private individual, according to J.D. Power. When you buy a used car from the dealership, it has be inspected by professionals and has probably bee given some level of care. Many carmakers currently offer "certified" pre-owned cars. These vehicles have undergone extensive inspections like a new car, and as a result the dealer will provide a substantial warranty with your purchase.
"Buying from a dealer provides confidence."
When you go with a private seller, you don't have the confidence that a professional reviewed a car, but you also don't have to shoulder the costs those processes create. That means a car from a private seller is almost always going to be cheaper than the equivalent car from the dealership. So, if you're willing to conduct a relatively thorough inspection before you buy the car, purchasing from a private seller might be the way to go.
Here are some tips to make your private purchase a positive experience:
Get the history
Every car is equipped with a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This number is linked to the car for record keeping purposes, and you can use various services to get a full report of the car's history, according to U.S. News and World Report. This will include accident reports, information about times the vehicle has been taken for repairs and other details about the car's condition, including whether or not it has been in a flood or had its odometer rolled back.
You can receive a VIN report from the DMV in some small states or get it from a range of report agencies. You should always ask a seller for their vehicle's VIN prior to seeing a vehicle in person. That will eliminate time-consuming trips to see cars that have a shady past.
Meet in the right place
Most people selling their vehicle will be honest and truthful, but you don't want to end up in a shaky situation with an unsavory character. To avoid feeling at risk, try to meet in a public place during the daytime. AutoTrader points out you will be more comfortable in this environment, and you will be safer. Both factors will put you in a better place to negotiate a price with your seller, which is important because negation is a huge part of any car purchase process.
Show up ready to negotiate
A private seller will be ready to negotiate, and you should also prepare. By researching the appropriate price for a vehicle ahead of time, you can set a realistic personal expectation for how much a vehicle is worth and square that against what you're willing to pay. This is part of why getting a VIN report is so important. When you start talking about a reasonable price, be sure to note all the details that make you wary about the purchase. That should help you drive the price down.
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