Networking: Not just for job seeking, also for used car selling

After DH bought his Honda Clarity Plug-in, we had 3 cars, a 2 car garage, a 1 car driveway, and a HOA that doesn’t allow overnight street parking.  Mornings involved a car shuffle so I could get to work since I was often in the garage instead of the driveway.  We decided that even though DH’s old Honda Civic Hybrid was a far nicer car than my older Hyundai Accent that I’d keep my Accent and we’d sell the Civic.  This is partly because the Accent only has 47K miles, partly because I get strangely attached to things I’ve had a long time, and mainly because I’m a small person and my Accent fits me whereas the Civic is just uncomfortable.  (I am a little bit concerned that the universe is telling me that I should be worried about my safety as we know a couple of people IRL and there are a couple prominent people online who have recently gotten physically hurt in car accidents, but not quite enough to replace the Accent with something bigger and newer.  Not that we have the cash to do so right now anyway.)

Regular readers may recall that the dealership lowballed us a number even lower than what KBB said was the lowest dealership number for our Civic.  The lowest amount DH had been willing to accept was $1,300 and they came back with $1000.  Then DH spent a couple of weeks after work detailing the interiors of the car to get it into selling condition.  Then before he’d finished, my car went into the shop and I started driving the nice clean Civic to work, for about a week.  (I told him he could add any extra he made above what the dealer offered to his adult allowance.)

One day during this week, I was walking out to my car after a presentation so as to get to a restaurant for the speaker’s post-talk dinner.  One of the guys also going to the dinner was going to carpool with another guy in his department because the first guy had biked to work that day.  As I walked past, the second guy was brushing some brown dirt-like substance off the passenger-side seat telling the first guy, “Wait a minute, I need to clean the manure off the front seat of my car,” at which point guy 1 asked if maybe he could carpool with me instead.  Once in, I mentioned that this wasn’t my regular car and that we were looking to sell it.  The guy who I was giving a ride said, oh really, my 15 year old nephew in the Midwest needs a $2000 car (the kid has $900 saved up and his parents are paying the other half– the uncle is throwing in the missing $100 for the kid), and he’d been planning to start looking but was worried about rusted out bottoms in the Midwest and hurricane flooded used cars in the South.  $2000 was a little less than the bottom-most private-sale price quoted by KBB, and we could have probably asked for closer to $2,500 or $2750, but it was also a lot more than the $1300 DH had been holding out for in order to avoid selling on Craigslist when he decided to decline the dealer’s offer.  And since this is a kid with parents and not a random college student, we feel a bit better about what happens if the electric battery dies, the tires need replacing, etc.  (The guy was like, you expect those kinds of things in any car less than $2K– the important thing is the fame isn’t bent, the engine isn’t flooded etc.) The guy in question is pretty easy-going despite not wanting to sit in manure and shares a lot of the same Midwestern sensibilities of responsibility that DH and I do, so we felt like we could trust him to be solidly dealing with us and he felt the same way about us.

So after my car came back from the shop, DH offered this guy our car for $2000.  The guy took it to a local mechanic who declared it to be in good shape (next expected repair:  replacing the tires).  DH looked up how to do a private sale.  We signed over the title and dealt with a bunch of documents.  He wrote a check (if it had been someone on Craigslist or Facebook, we would have insisted on cash).  I said a fond farewell to the Civic.  We didn’t have to deal with Craigslist.  And some kid in the Midwest is getting a much nicer used car than he would have been able to get without his uncle’s intervention.  (It’s even been detailed!)

So… I guess the moral is:  When you need to do a transaction of some kind, it’s useful to just mention it to people before dealing with social media sites.  That is, of course, assuming you’re willing to satisfice rather than optimize.  If we’d been set on $2,500 or more, we probably would have needed to go the full Craigslist gamut.

Have you sold a used car before?  How did you do it?  Have you ever networked your way to something besides a job?

21 Responses to “Networking: Not just for job seeking, also for used car selling”

  1. Leah Says:

    This is part of what I love about random small talk — making little connections you might not otherwise make. This is why I like to chat about things with people. Sometimes, people I’m with get embarrassed (not exactly sure why), but I find it really helpful to create connections.

    I have never sold a used car. My current car is the only one I’ve solely owned, and the family cars before that were pretty much all donated when they finally gave up the ghost. We did used to own a desirable old model of Toyota van, and we had several people knock on our door (!) to ask if we were willing to sell.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Our last car we basically gave to the dealer as a trade-in– it needed body work to pass the state inspection and didn’t have a/c or 4 doors and we were moving to the South.

  2. chacha1 Says:

    Nicely done. :-)
    My DH found notes on his 99 Accord (the EX coupe, a good-looking car) several times saying “call me when you want to sell.” He should have!!
    If I had a lot of spare money and a spare parking place, I might be haunting a neighbor … he’s got a PURPLE El Camino in his driveway and never takes it out. It’s groovy.

  3. Jackie Says:

    I’m TERRIBLE at random small talk but I have learned that it’s a skill that pays for itself if you’re decent at it. Like you did! Yay! I try to mention when we’re looking for something used, or selling something, online to friends on Twitter while we’re looking, and do the same if I run into people for bigger stuff. I’m not sure what route we’ll take for selling one of our current two cars if and when we try to get something bigger.

    Our things are just little. Linda was awesome and saved us the hunt for a new coffeemaker recently, helping friends move and having friends help us with bits of our move turned up a couple of laundry baskets that needed a new home. I feel good about saving things from the landfill! I’ve connected at least three people to jobs because they happened to mention to me that they needed a specific type of job and I happened to hear of opportunities.

  4. Leigh Says:

    I wish we had been more vocal about the fact that we were trying to sell my husband’s mattress when we were because a couple months before we committed to getting rid of it because we didn’t need two queen-sized mattresses, multiple friends bought mattresses for guest rooms. Used mattresses are so hard to sell that we ended up donating it, including paying $75 for the charity to come and pick it up…

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Last time we had to get rid of a mattress (when leaving Paradise at the end of the year) we put it on “free” on Craigslist. Some people came with a truck and got it. Sometimes I wonder if we should have kept it because it sure was awfully nice to have a king-size bed. But then we’d have to get rid of one of our (3!) queen beds here. Which I guess wouldn’t be impossible if we did it in August when all the students are moving into town. But still…

      Yeah, mentioning stuff to people sometimes makes life easier!

      • Leigh Says:

        We tried that! But so many people here don’t have vehicles let alone trucks and we don’t have a truck, so it was really hard to get rid of. Do your kids have their own queen sized beds?! My sibling and I had twins growing up. I think this mattress is on its last legs and we will probably replace it by the end of next year and probably with a king! We need to do some measuring before committing to that though.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        DC2 has a queen because we had an extra queen when zie was ready to transition to hir own bed. DC1 has a regular twin.

  5. katherine Says:

    I sold my 13 year old accord with over 300K for a bit more than $2K to a man with a son going off to college. I loved that car. I sold it by putting up the ad in the office where my sis in law works – the public health government agency in the southeast. I had some interest from another family, but they took it to a mechanic and the guy said my car needed lots of work, which was very untrue, and I hated that they were given wrong information from someone who was either looking to make money off them or was incompetent. The guy I ended up selling to took it to his mechanic who knew it was a gem. And we still kept in touch via email because I loved hearing how my car was still so loved. I loved that car, but a two door and a new baby car seat didn’t mix well. I also become very attached to my cars and keep them for years, so this one hurt. For my next car, I will go to my mechanic and ask if she has any cars that need homes for those who just left them there and gave the title because they didn’t think the price was worth the outcome. I went to her this weekend and she told me so many stories about cars she has acquired that way.

  6. seattlegirluw Says:

    We’ve been unlucky in cars, with both being totaled in accidents (one our fault, one not); so we’ve never ended up selling a used car. I’m hoping to drive our current one into the ground. I guess one way or another this means we (probably) won’t have to worry about the headache of selling a used car.

  7. Lisa Says:

    Hmm – we donated our first car to NPR, it was a very old, well-loved and well-used Nissan Sentra (1992 maybe?) and wasn’t really worth selling. Our second car (a 1995 Mazda Miata) we sold to a neighbor who was starting college – didn’t get top dollar for it, but we bought it from my parents and didn’t pay top dollar, either. We still see it around the neighborhood now and again. Our third we essentially gave away to CarMax (got $1500 or so for it). It was a Volkswagon Passat (maybe 2003?) that had some major mechanical issues so we didn’t feel good about selling it to a friend. Apparently it was subsequently stolen (not clear if from CarMax or from a new owner) and we got a bill from somewhere in CA for something (don’t remember what – tolls?) indicating that we were the last known owner of the car. Obviously we didn’t have to pay cuz we had records that we had sold the car. I hate parting with old things because I get emotionally attached and also hate the hassle of the sale. I have been able to offload some old baby stuff by donating it to neighbors in need, though, which I feel good about (both that I was able to part with the items and also that they’re getting good use now).

  8. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I helped my parents sell an ancient Toyota Tercel – via newspaper ad! – in 1999 or so. I think they got $900 for it, which was a fair price (we warned the buyers about the transmission, which proceeded to die five miles away; it was a dad and kid who were going to make it a project).

  9. accm Says:

    I’ve found childcare and disposed of outgrown kids’ stuff using networks stretching back to my hometown on the other side of the country.


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