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To trade in or sell privately? That is the question

As a car dealer in Sydney for over 25 years, I get asked this question almost every other day. Should I trade in or sell my car privately? I usually respond with a question back. Do you have to trade in to purchase the new/replacement vehicle or can you purchase and sell your car later? If the answer is no and yes, I often recommend they sell their cars privately. They will get substantially more than trading in. The reason for that is simple. Dealers must trade a car at a price that they can then make a profit from. Remember, they will incur costs to prepare the car for sale. Those costs include transfer fees, GST, detailing, reconditioning, workshop repairs, advertising, warranty and dealership expenses. We would estimate that there is often at least a $3000 difference for a dealer just to break even depending on the price range. And they have not made a profit yet.

The pros of selling a car privately are the purely financial. You should get more if you sell privately and it only requires a little time and effort. Get the car detailed, take heaps (at least 20) of photos. Publish the car on Carsales or Autotrader at a reasonable price and include a description of your car including its service history. Don’t be the cheapest but price it aggressively.

The cons of such an exercise can be many. The time involved in the process cannot be predicted. The inconvenience of waiting for people to arrive (like us, sellers are often left waiting for people to turn up only to never hear from them again), having to go on test drives with strangers, taking calls from both dealers, buyers and often scammers offering stupid prices will happen.

At the end of the day, the choice will often come down to dollars versus convenience. Many of our clients just find it more convenient to trade in and are prepared to accept a trade in price for that convenience. So, wrestle with that choice. $$$$ vs convenience. "mmm, decisions decisions".