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Trade-In or Sell?

Trade-In or Sell?

Are you ready to upgrade your car? Taking it to a dealer and negotiating a trade- in may seem like the easiest route, but you could be missing out on the advantages of selling the car privately. If you know how to handle the process, private sales can offer many benefits over trading in your vehicle.

You Could Get More Money

Trade-in prices are often much lower than the market value of your car. You can see this for yourself by comparing trade-in offers from dealers with what Kelley Blue Book says the vehicle is worth.

Models in high demand may fetch an even higher price if you can find a willing buyer. Some private sellers will offer more for a car that they know drivers are itching to get their hands on. Research the market thoroughly before selling to make sure you're not letting a "hot" car go for too low a price.

You Control the Process

Going to a dealer for a trade-in gives you only one option. You can research trade-in values and do a little negotiating, but you're obliged to agree with the dealer's offer at some point.

When you sell a car yourself, you have multiple options where you can list it, including several online and print classifieds. Until it's time for test drives, the entire process can be handled from the comfort of your home.

Although you may have to field questions from people who are less than serious about buying, you're under no obligation to accept an offer you don't like or deal with anyone who makes you uncomfortable. If something seems off about a buyer, you're free to turn them down and sell to someone else.

It Makes Buying a New Vehicle Easier

Haggling over the price of a new car becomes more complicated when a trade-in is involved. Trade-in values are actually allowances based more on what the dealer wants to give you than the real value at which you'd sell your car.

Some dealers will artificially raise their initial offer and incorporate the difference into the price of the new vehicle. This could make the deal you're getting seem better than it is and make it difficult to determine when to stop negotiations and agree on a final sale.

Be wary of emails or letters promising the highest possible trade-in value for your vehicle. If you've already done your homework, you'll know that the highest amount from a dealer will still be lower than the market value of the vehicle. Even with a clear understanding of the tricks dealers use to make prices seem lower, you're still going to lose out on some of the value of the car.

You'll Have Cash for a Down Payment

Sell a car yourself and you get to call the shots when you go to the dealership for a new one. With a trade-in, you're pretty much tied to whatever price arrangement the dealer sets up. However, when you come with your own money and a clear idea of what you want to buy and how much you're willing to spend, you get the upper hand and can walk away with a great deal on the model you've been dreaming of.

Salespeople work on commission and don't want to lose out by turning cash customers away with pushy tactics. You may not get exactly the price you want on a vehicle, but with the money in your hands rather than wrapped up in a trade-in, you have a better chance of working out an amount that's in line with your budget.

You Can Afford Better Features

In addition to a lower overall price tag, the extra money you get from selling a car may allow you to buy a vehicle with more technology and safety accessories than you could otherwise afford. Instead of settling for what a trade-in will fund, you have the freedom to put your cash toward a car with more muscle and better performance.

Selling Points to Consider

Although opting for a private sale has many benefits compared to trading in, it does take a bit more work. Before you sell a car, you need to:

  • Determine its condition and know how this affects its value and appeal
  • Know the true market value based on condition and demand
  • Finalize any remaining loan or lease payments
  • Clean the vehicle inside and out

Selling a car instead of trading it in gives you more options, more control and a better chance of getting cash for the true value of the vehicle. The time it takes to set up listings, screen buyers and offer test drives can pay off if you're discerning and patient. Instead of settling for a dealer's low trade-in offer, you can sell your car privately and enjoy the benefits.

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