You may be feeling overwhelmed.. not to mention rushed, worried, confused, and uneasy.

The process of selling a car privately in a big city like Boston is not easy, nor is it fun.

Here's how to simplify the process, and put yourself at ease.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this blog is to give non-legal advice for conducting a private sale of a vehicle. It is strictly informational, and sellers should perform their due diligence to ensure their safety.

The Dos and Don'ts!

1. Clean the car inside and out. Even if the car isn't in the best shape, or it has its dings and dents, it's well worth it to have it at least be cleaned.

2. Move the car so that there is plenty of room around it. The purpose of doing this is so that you can take really good pictures of the car. If you have a really good smartphone camera, awesome! If not, borrowing someone else's camera would really work wonders in getting the attention of a serious buyer. If the car you're trying to sell is of a really high value, I would even suggest taking a video walk-around as well, and linking to the video onto YouTube in your ad.

3. Set up an email account that you'll be using to handle all correspondence regarding the sale. Make note of the email address, and keep it handy for at least 6 months after you've sold the vehicle. You'll be using this email address on websites like Craigslist, CarGurus and AutoTrader.

4. Decide if you'll be going the quick and cheap route such as Craigslist, or you'll spend some money by using the premium features found on AutoTrader. I'd suggest doing both and running the ads at the same time. Something that is highly encouraged is pulling a CarFax report and saving it as a PDF. Buyers like to see the CarFax as it gives them SOME piece of mind when buying a car. This is especially the case if the vehicle is of a high value.


5. The best day to post a vehicle online is typically a Thursday. Why? Because people are either getting paid or are free to look at the car on the weekend. Also, you'll be able to coordinate your schedule so that you can have multiple interested buyers come and see the vehicle around the same time. This will create a better perceived demand for the car, and minimize low-ball offers.

Post the car to the websites you've decided on. Be very detailed, and make sure certain details are not only mentioned at the very beginning, but if they're of particular importance, put them in the title of the ad. "Low Miles", "One Owner", and things of that nature. Do NOT put your phone number unless you're using an app like "Burner" where you can discard the number. The best way to communicate with prospective buyers is by email until you feel as though they should or need to have your phone number.


6. Pick a place to show the car. If you can, avoid showing the vehicle at your home, and always let a friend or family member know where you're headed to show the vehicle. Show the vehicle somewhere such as a plaza mall, or Dunkin' Donuts, or somewhere where there is generally a lot of people out and about. Definitely do NOT show the car at night time! Besides for safety reasons, let the buyer see the car in daylight, and be aware of its full as-is condition.

If you'll be letting the interested buyer test drive the car, take a picture of their license/ID, and send to a close relative or friend who is NOT with you! If it's possible, try to include their cell phone number if you already have it.


7. If the buyer is interested in the car, and wants to buy. Always let them know you still have a couple other people to show the car to! Tell them when you'll contact them back to let them know what the status of the car is, and what offers you've collected. When agreeing on the deal, do remind them that the vehicle is being sold as-is with no implications.

8. Signing the title and drafting a Bill of Sale. You've got one shot, so be careful! Use the image below to know which part of the back of the title to sign and print. It's important you use a black or blue pen. When drafting a bill of sale (sample below), Massachusetts does not require it to be notarized, but does require the sale price of the vehicle to be on the document.

ONLY sign the highlighted portion of the title. Signature goes on the left box. Printed Name goes in the middle box. Date on the right box.

Click here for SAMPLE Bill of Sale to use when handing over the keys and accepting the payment.

9. The most important part! Generally speaking, a cashier's check works best for anything above $3,000. If the vehicle is not being paid for with a cashier's check, just to be safe, and if you are uneasy about collecting cash, go with the buyer to their or your bank, and have the buyer convert the cash to a cashier's check!


10. Shake hands and walk away :)

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