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    Thread: Private party used car sales negotiation tactics?

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    1. Member 4.OMG's Avatar
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      05-16-2017 08:03 PM #1
      We've had at least one thread lately about squeezing dealers for every last dollar of profit in new car purchases, but I'm curious how the TCL dealmasters approach used sales from private parties.

      So how do you guys negotiate the price when dealing with individuals? Do you start off by offering X% or $Y below asking, regardless of what the asking price is? Do you initially offer what you think the car is worth/your max price and tell the seller to take it or leave it? Bring a pocket full of cash to entice the seller to take less for a quick sale? Offer some cash plus "interesting trades" and/or personal services?

      I'm in the market for an old(er) domestic POS and plan to look at one I believe is priced about $1000 (or 15%) too high and would like to negotiate the price down without angering the seller, who I expect will have multiple tattoos, a mullet and possibly a concealed weapon.
      Now this was a superior machine. Ten grand worth of gimmicks and high-priced special effects. The rear windows lit up with a touch like frogs in a dynamite pond. The dashboard was full of esoteric lights and dials and meters that I would never understand.

    2. 05-16-2017 08:57 PM #2
      Don't say, "what's the lowest price you'll take?" That's not how negotiations work. And it's just dumb. Seller thinks it's worth X, you think it's worth Y. Knowledge is power, know what the car is worth in your market, offer what you think is a fair price you're comfortable paying. It's not that hard.

    3. Member 4.OMG's Avatar
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      05-16-2017 09:04 PM #3
      Of course that's dumb, and not really the point of the thread. Even if I have a good idea of what something is worth, I still want to pay as little as possible, preferably below market-that way my mad money goes farther.

      I was hoping people would share their tactics so I/others might learn something new. I'm perfectly capable of playing the "seller wants $10k so I'll offer $8k expecting a counter offer of $9k" game, but there has to be other ways and I was hoping to spark a lively discussion replete with war stories about sellers falling to their knees, murmuring incoherent nonsense after being schooled by the skilled negotiators of TCL.
      Now this was a superior machine. Ten grand worth of gimmicks and high-priced special effects. The rear windows lit up with a touch like frogs in a dynamite pond. The dashboard was full of esoteric lights and dials and meters that I would never understand.

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      05-16-2017 09:08 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by Roverdude View Post
      Don't say, "what's the lowest price you'll take?" That's not how negotiations work. And it's just dumb. Seller thinks it's worth X, you think it's worth Y. Knowledge is power, know what the car is worth in your market, offer what you think is a fair price you're comfortable paying. It's not that hard.
      I have tried this on sellers who do not seem to be too savvy with their car knowledge. On more than one occasion, I have had the seller immediately say a price lower than I was going to offer. In one situation, the seller made a repair before selling me the car without asking me for more money! In the first few minutes of a conversation, you can get a sense of the seller's motivation and if they did their homework.

    5. Member 4.OMG's Avatar
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      05-16-2017 09:13 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by Hufeisen View Post
      I have tried this on sellers who do not seem to be too savvy with their car knowledge. On more than one occasion, I have had the seller immediately say a price lower than I was going to offer. In one situation, the seller made a repair before selling me the car without asking me for more money! In the first few minutes of a conversation, you can get a sense of the seller's motivation and if they did their homework.
      The only time I've asked that is after a lowball-but-not-insultingly low initial offer is rejected. In my experience, there's typically a few hundred bucks more to be had, but not always.
      Now this was a superior machine. Ten grand worth of gimmicks and high-priced special effects. The rear windows lit up with a touch like frogs in a dynamite pond. The dashboard was full of esoteric lights and dials and meters that I would never understand.

    6. Member turbo_nine's Avatar
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      05-16-2017 09:27 PM #6
      Here's a hot tip.

      When someone advertises a running, driving car for $500 on craigslist...

      you're probably not getting it for much cheaper.
      call it potatography

    7. Member vwpiloto's Avatar
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      05-16-2017 09:38 PM #7
      A cash offer usually helps, assuming the price of the car is something relatively low (<$10K).

    8. Senior Member dunhamjr's Avatar
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      05-17-2017 03:14 PM #8
      be a 'serious' buyer versus someone just looking to poke around and joy ride, if that makes sense.

      know the value of what you are buying.
      what does it kbb, nada at?
      what is the asking price for other cars on the market?
      if there are issues, what are the replacement costs to repair these items?

      taking cash helps a lot too.


      i was just going through this trying to decide on a couple of different miata's.
      did my research about the models, market, pricing, etc.
      found my candidates.
      figured out the issues on the red car, and the costs to repair.

      determined another car (blue), even though listed at a much higher price ($4k) actually represents a better overall value TO ME.
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      05-17-2017 03:42 PM #9
      1) I never appear that interested, but if it gets to talking a deal, I'll let the seller know what I like about the car...
      2) ...but then I list what faults I've seen/diagnosed during the walk-around and test drive, and what I think it'll cost to fix them (roughly) and/or I'll tell them I want a PPI, then use the results of that to bargain with them.
      3) Then I tell them that based on what the likely repair costs are going to be, the best offer I can make is $_________. There might be some negotiation from that point.
      4) They aren't interested in doing a deal at that price? No worries, feel free to think about it and shoot me a text/email later if you'd like to talk further. I'm off to my next appointment to view <same make/model>.

      More often than not, my walk away strategy ends up with the seller emailing me to take my offer. And if not? No big deal.

      I've only once written a check for asking price on the spot for a car, and that was my NA Miata. Guy had 40+ emails in less than 24 hours on it; I was #1.

    10. Member Samson's Avatar
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      05-17-2017 03:49 PM #10
      I bought my current car from a private party. He was "firm" on the price (probably because he was selling an old Infiniti on Craigslist and was tired of offers to trade for a stolen gun and some weed). I decided I wanted it, so I took it to a dealer for a PPI and subtracted everything they found from his asking price and offered cash. He accepted. Done and done. I probably could have worked another ~$500 off, but he was a great seller and let me take the car for a few days to see if I wanted it. That's worth something.

      In addition to subtracting the cost of any needed work (at dealer cost in my case), show them comparable cars for sale in the area. Don't use dealer prices for the car, as it's not going to help you. Things like KBB are a good place to start, but actual listings are more realistic.

    11. Member t_white's Avatar
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      05-17-2017 04:29 PM #11
      I usually do a fair amount of research on a particular car, and determine a reasonable amount that I would pay for the car (based on market value, miles, potential repairs necessary), and then decide if the listed price is worth my time for negotiations.

      If all seems well, and after a conversation with the seller, I will go look at the car. I am very detail oriented and I usually nit-pick and try to keep a list of issues or things the car will need.

      When I negotiable, I will throw out my offer. If they start working with me and counter offer a reasonable price I will continue the negotiation. If the seller says no to my offer, I will ask them what they would be willing to come down to. At this point, I typically show them cash and say I am here to make a deal and buy a car... for the right price. Often times, when they see cash and realize I'm not just there talking BS they will work with me.

      If the price isn't right, I walk. I'm not wasting my time or money. After a look around, general discussion on the car, review of maint. records, test drive and some minor negotiations I am ready to either drive home with the car, or ride back home with whoever I bribed to bring me to the car. Time is money.
      Last edited by t_white; 05-17-2017 at 04:31 PM.
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      05-17-2017 04:48 PM #12
      I flip on my fake Russian accent, works every time.
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    13. Member turbo_nine's Avatar
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      05-17-2017 06:50 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by Samson View Post
      I probably could have worked another ~$500 off, but he was a great seller and let me take the car for a few days to see if I wanted it.
      I can imagine someone willing to do that has generous insurance coverage and would have been just as happy to accept a check from them.
      call it potatography

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      05-17-2017 08:26 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by Numbersix View Post
      1) I never appear that interested, but if it gets to talking a deal, I'll let the seller know what I like about the car...
      2) ...but then I list what faults I've seen/diagnosed during the walk-around and test drive, and what I think it'll cost to fix them (roughly) and/or I'll tell them I want a PPI, then use the results of that to bargain with them.
      3) Then I tell them that based on what the likely repair costs are going to be, the best offer I can make is $_________. There might be some negotiation from that point.
      4) They aren't interested in doing a deal at that price? No worries, feel free to think about it and shoot me a text/email later if you'd like to talk further. I'm off to my next appointment to view <same make/model>.

      More often than not, my walk away strategy ends up with the seller emailing me to take my offer. And if not? No big deal.

      I've only once written a check for asking price on the spot for a car, and that was my NA Miata. Guy had 40+ emails in less than 24 hours on it; I was #1.
      You're probably not, but this post makes you sound like a pompous ass. I usually let "hardasses" like you walk away. I the negotiation is going to be such an issue I can't imagine the hell that follow on the close of the deal. I just sold my GLI, today actually, and what I did with him is obviously set the initial asking price. Then he asked me that same question about what I would take, I told him to make me an offer. As soon as you speak in a negotiation you lose. No one buys the not interested shtick, if you weren't that interested you wouldn't be there. I let him set the parameters of the ball park and we make a deal in the middle. You know you made a good deal when no one is happy but everyone is satisfied.

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      05-17-2017 08:40 PM #15
      Walk if you don't get it for your number.

    16. Member jepva's Avatar
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      05-17-2017 08:47 PM #16
      I have a friend who is always telling me about the great deals he finds from the private party / craigslist crowd (as well as driving around and seeing cars for sale sitting around). One of his main tactics is to make a low ball offer, and then he creates fake e-mail accounts, and sends even more lowball offers to the seller. This way, the seller's expectations get lowered and his offer suddenly seems pretty good. Combine that with showing up with cash, and he's had a lot of sellers cave in to his price.

      Now, there is obviously some finesse and work involved to doing this right as to not tip the seller off, but he takes his time and does his research and doesn't ever rush things.

      Personally, I've never done this as I think it's borderline sketchy, but I guess anything goes in the world of negotiations.

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      05-18-2017 02:18 PM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by whalemingo View Post
      You're probably not, but this post makes you sound like a pompous ass. I usually let "hardasses" like you walk away. I the negotiation is going to be such an issue I can't imagine the hell that follow on the close of the deal. I just sold my GLI, today actually, and what I did with him is obviously set the initial asking price. Then he asked me that same question about what I would take, I told him to make me an offer. As soon as you speak in a negotiation you lose. No one buys the not interested shtick, if you weren't that interested you wouldn't be there. I let him set the parameters of the ball park and we make a deal in the middle. You know you made a good deal when no one is happy but everyone is satisfied.
      Nope, not at all. I'm very down to earth and honest about my thought process, I express what I like about it, but I'm never desperate to do a deal. I want a buyer to understand how I'm arriving at my figure, not just throwing out a lowball.

      It's a dialogue; there's no 'this is my price, take it or leave it'. But if they are set at their price and that figure isn't what I'm comfortable paying? Then I say, hey, feel free to think about it and let me know if you'd like to talk further.

      I've almost always ended up closing a deal at a price we mutually agree is fair using these tactics--something I can't say for the legions of CL idiots who send you the, "<$ 50% of your asking price> CASH today leme kno" emails.

    18. Member DonL's Avatar
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      05-18-2017 03:46 PM #18
      When I bought my current ****box, we were actually stopping by on the way home from dinner, so my wife and daughter were with me. My wife and I already discussed prices, market values, so she had an idea what the car would be worth as much as I did. I drove the car, and while I was out, my wife was bonding with the seller's wife, they worked for the same healthcare system. By the time I got back, the two gals had already talked price, depending on if I liked the car or not. They settled on what was actually a good, reasonable, fair price, based on the conversations I had with my wife previously. I said I liked the car, we all shook hands, she and my wife hugged, and we settled the money the next day at the seller's bank to clear the lein on the car. Easiest negotiation I never had to make.
      Quote Originally Posted by jamie@vwvortex
      I'm not grouping everyone together - I would have said everyone in this forum is a moron.

    19. Member westsideseal's Avatar
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      05-19-2017 03:47 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by Numbersix View Post
      Nope, not at all. I'm very down to earth and honest about my thought process, I express what I like about it, but I'm never desperate to do a deal. I want a buyer to understand how I'm arriving at my figure, not just throwing out a lowball.

      It's a dialogue; there's no 'this is my price, take it or leave it'. But if they are set at their price and that figure isn't what I'm comfortable paying? Then I say, hey, feel free to think about it and let me know if you'd like to talk further.

      I've almost always ended up closing a deal at a price we mutually agree is fair using these tactics--something I can't say for the legions of CL idiots who send you the, "<$ 50% of your asking price> CASH today leme kno" emails.
      As long as you're realistic about it and don't act as if the asking price is meant for brand new car in perfect condition. When I price a car for sale, that price accounts for the things that are wrong with the car. So usually when someone tries to start subtracting for everything wrong with the car, I let them know that's already factored into the price, which is why a perfect condition example is X,000 more than I'm asking. Depending on the kind of car being sold, it's usually easier to let people like you walk and wait for some excited kid to come buy it.

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      05-19-2017 08:15 PM #20
      The guy I know that does this would be tickled his tactics are causing such raucous​ on here.

      Let's flip this the other way around- how many of you as sellers have told buyer's you have multiple people interested in the cars or "I already have another offer that's higher" as a negotiation tactic? Is that unethical?

      Plenty of people do this, and I'm pretty sure they're not always telling the truth.

      Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk

    21. Member turbinepowered's Avatar
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      05-19-2017 09:39 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by jepva View Post
      Let's flip this the other way around- how many of you as sellers have told buyer's you have multiple people interested in the cars or "I already have another offer that's higher" as a negotiation tactic? Is that unethical?

      Plenty of people do this, and I'm pretty sure they're not always telling the truth.
      As I already covered, yep. Same hazy ethical area, you're lying to exert influence.
      Quote Originally Posted by zukiphile View Post
      There is an area of a normal brain that lets the owner know the object works and needs to be left alone. Not all of us have it. It is like being colorblind.

    22. A beautiful Summer's Eve Sold Over Sticker's Avatar
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      05-19-2017 10:02 PM #22
      This thread TL: DR: Everybody lies. Moral ambiguity aplenty. Welcome to why sales people hate the general public. Your tactics are trite, obvious, and your social IQ sucks. People here complaining about Craigslist or private party tactics fail to realize that's everyday in the life of someone in sales.

      Salesmen suck, buyers suck, everyone sucks.
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      Quote Originally Posted by bothhandsplease View Post
      Brendan told me to get the best discount, I had to send dick pics. I thought this was standard car buying practice.
      Quote Originally Posted by H.E. Pennypacker View Post
      Brendan and his all knowing heavy breathing baboon are correct.

    23. Member Triumph's Avatar
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      05-19-2017 10:12 PM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by Sold Over Sticker View Post
      This thread TL: DR: Everybody lies. Moral ambiguity aplenty. Welcome to why sales people hate the general public. Your tactics are trite, obvious, and your social IQ sucks. People here complaining about Craigslist or private party tactics fail to realize that's everyday in the life of someone in sales.
      Who cares what car salesmen think about the general public? Not like they have a stellar reputation themselves.
      -Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog

      I saw this in a movie about a bus that had to speed around the city, keeping its speed over fifty, and if its speed dropped, the bus would explode! I think it was called, "The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down."

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      05-19-2017 10:35 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by Triumph View Post
      Who cares what car salesmen think about the general public? Not like they have a stellar reputation themselves.
      Note how I didn't get specific and say "car salesmen?" Salesmen who work in any industry can't stand this same isht. Don't care if it's B2C, B2B, etc. If you sell **** for a living, this thread should crack you up.

      The only reasonable person has been numbersix.
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      Quote Originally Posted by bothhandsplease View Post
      Brendan told me to get the best discount, I had to send dick pics. I thought this was standard car buying practice.
      Quote Originally Posted by H.E. Pennypacker View Post
      Brendan and his all knowing heavy breathing baboon are correct.

    25. Junior Member Cradle2theDave's Avatar
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      05-20-2017 10:13 AM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by Triumph View Post
      Who cares what car salesmen think about the general public? Not like they have a stellar reputation themselves.
      When you deal with people who have this attitude towards you every single day(regardless of how you conduct yourself), it's easy to become a little jaded.

      Any successful salesperson in the current marketplace is probably a pretty stand-up person TBH.
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