5 keys to selling your car online

Nuts and bolts of selling online
  • When selling online (even out of state), the buyer's and seller's responsibilities for registration and title remain the same as in any used-vehicle transaction.
  • Paying the sales tax is still the responsibility of the buyer.
  • Buyers should expect their state DMVs to require sales tax when registering the vehicle and this cost should be figured into the buyer's budget.

3. Pack the headline with keywords.

You want potential buyers to find your listing, and the best way to do that is to load the title or headline with several keywords that your buyers use in their Internet search.

"I think of every attribute to put in the title, so the listing comes up on several keywords," Stanfield says.

Usually there is no limit to the number of words you can use in the title, so don't stick to just the year, make and model. When appropriate use "low mileage," "Bose audio system," "great fuel economy" or "leather seating."

4. Write a compelling description

Writing the description is one area where the private seller can actually outdo a professional dealer.

"Dealers do so many, that they do abbreviated descriptions. I put in 45 minutes to an hour listing a car," says Stanfield.

An example of what Stanfield considers an effective description:
This 2006 Hummer H2 has just 31,000 miles on it and is beautiful. It is in near perfect condition. The exterior paint looks great and while there are the typical little scratches here and there, you can tell from the pictures that it has been well cared for. The interior is just as beautiful and smells like leather with no hint of cigarette smoke. I have personally driven this vehicle and can tell you it is a real pleasure to drive. The options include all the bells and whistles, including power seats, upgraded stereo system and a back up camera. This Hummer was originally over $50,000. Our reserve on this vehicle is thousands below average retail. This is a great chance to own a luxury SUV at a very fair price. My name is John Public and I have been working with eBay customers for over 5 years. I really believe this is a great vehicle and I have it priced to move fast. Please call me with any questions you have. (555) 555-5555 (place e-mail address here).

According to Mark Scott, a senior manager at, nearly every vehicle today has power windows and air conditioning, and such mundane features shouldn't be at the top of your description.

"Think about what attracted you to that vehicle when you bought it," he says. "If it's a minivan, talk about the number of cup holders and storage bins it has. Talk about the rear-seat entertainment system and other features that make it a great family vehicle. If it's a convertible, talk about what great summer fun the car is."

5. Reach out to the buyer

Buying a car online can cause anxiety and stress for the buyer. He is, after all, paying for something that is often sight unseen. Creating a bridge of communication with the buyer can ease his anxiety and minimize the likelihood he will be unhappy with the vehicle once it arrives.

Stanfield recommends calling the buyers once the transaction is finalized and thanking them for the sale.

"Build a rapport with the customer before and after the sale," Stanfield says. "Keep him apprised of where the process is at. Make sure it's a great experience for him!"

News alert Create a news alert for "auto"


Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us


Tara Baukus Mello

4 best bits of winter driving advice

A drag racing champ offers advice if you need to get behind the wheel during blustery winter weather.  ... Read more

Connect with us