How To Pick the Right Price When Selling Your Car

by Matt Smith

Selling your car privately can earn you more money than trading it in—as much as $1,200 more. But once you’ve decided to sell it yourself, do you know how much you can reasonably ask for that car sitting in your driveway? Luckily, there are now plenty of tools available to help you determine a fair price for your car, as well as some key tips and tricks to ensure you find a buyer quickly.

Research the Market

The first step to competitively pricing your car is understanding how others have priced their vehicles. When you sell a car on CarGurus, you’ll be greeted with a handy pricing tool. Enter a few details and you’ll get a suggested price immediately. If you adjust the listing price for your vehicle, the tool will tell you if it’s a great, good, or fair deal—and it will even alert you if you’re asking too much.

As a rule of thumb, shoppers see listings priced in the “good deal” range twice as often as cars marked as “fair deals”—and they see “great deals” four times as often. You may be tempted to price your car higher, but keep in mind that “overpriced” listings are seen only half as often as fairly priced cars.

Be sure to keep an eye on the market so your vehicle is always listed at an appropriate price. The closer your price straddles the line between “good deal” and “fair deal,” the more likely it is to get bumped into the latter bracket as other competitively priced cars enter the market.

Use Pricing Psychology

Everyone wants to make the most money possible when selling their car. And, while understanding your car’s Instant Market Value is a critical element, there’s nothing wrong with leveraging a little pricing psychology, too.

Ever notice how shops will list items for sale with prices ending in $.95 or $.99? This is so shoppers will mentally register these goods as costing a dollar less than they actually are, when in reality, they’ve been discounted only a few cents. This concept applies to cars, too. Thinking about listing your car for $14,000? Choosing $13,900 can make it look much more attractive to potential buyers while costing you very little in the long run.

Think Like a Shopper

When people search for answers on Google, they rarely travel deep into the search results. Most searchers won’t go beyond the first page. Similarly, if your car is listed with too high a price, it’s less likely to be seen. Few shoppers will venture past the “fair” deals on CarGurus. So, if you’re selling a very common car—one that will compete with many listings—pricing your car as a good or great deal is critical.

Also, recognize that everyone views vehicles from their own unique point of view. It’s human nature to value one’s own possessions more than other people’s items. General condition is undoubtedly important (you wouldn’t pay full market value for a car in less-than-stellar condition), but specific details may not hold their value. Even if you feel strongly about the car’s optional features, or if you absolutely love the car’s paint color, buyers might not feel the same way. Don’t expect a shopper to pay a premium over the market value because your car has the options you prefer.

The Bottom Line

Your asking price is an important part of successfully listing a vehicle for sale. Motivated sellers should strive to price their cars objectively—remember that buyers won’t attach sentimental value to a car, and they may not assign as much value to options or the paint as much as the original dealership did. Using the tools available (like CarGurus Instant Market Value) and applying a little pricing psychology can go a long way toward selling a car quickly—and can make you more money than you’d receive trading it in!

Related Topics

How To Sell Your Car Online
How To Sell a Car You Haven’t Paid Off Yet
The Truth About Trade-Ins

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