Look, when it comes to Craigslist, I've seen a thing or two. When you're addicted to old cars, you are forced into a relationship with good ol Craig. That's just the way it is. I couldn't begin to tell you how many hours I've spent scrolling and scanning for old tin. I have bought a lot of cars and met a lot of people in the process. I've also sold a metric-shit-ton of things the same way. Somewhere along the line, I've figured out what works and what doesn't. I'll write about these things, and offer tips from two perspectives: the buyer and the seller in two separate articles in hopes that I can offer some perspective based off of what I have learned. In this article, let's talk about selling.
I'm using Craigslist as an almost generic term, this applies to Facebook, Instagram, or whatever other new-fangled apps you kids are using these days..
Ready? Here goes:
1) Wash the thing! I don't care what you're selling, at least pretend you give a shit about it. Even if it's been sitting stuffed away in a garage for two years, knock the Pampers boxes and bags of cans off of the thing, push it outside and wash it. Vacuum it. If you don't, I'm going to assume it isn't valuable to you, therefore, why would it be to me? I'm going to take that as a sign that I should make a low offer. If it looks like shit, I'm going to value it the same way. And don't take the photos right after you wash it, with the ground still wet around it, wash bucket next to it and the hose dragged out, it's tacky. Make it look like it's always clean and cared for, not like you washed it just for the ad, like you read some article on ironandsteele.com and it told you to scrub it up.
2) Photos: Look, you don't need to be Trent Sherrill, but you do need to take quality photos if you want to sell something for the most money possible. Your pictures should be well lit, in focus and to the point. They should have no distractions in the background. You want to show just what you're selling, nothing else. If you're selling a car, you should have a minimum of seven photos - but there is no such thing as too many. There should at least be: Full side shot of the driver's side, the rear, full passenger side, the front, interior photo, engine bay photo, one additional overall photo of the car. Preferably in that order, but you always want the absolute best photo to be the first one. Imagine you're doing a walk around and take the photos that way. If there are negative elements of the car, they should be well documented, but you always want to start the photos on a good note and end them on a good note. First and last impressions are equally important.
3) Description: I get people asking me to write their ads for them all the time. Sound stupid? It isn't. You need to know how to write well-worded ad to be the most successful. The better it is, the better the impression will be on the person reading it. And even more importantly, a little time spent on the front end of it will save you untold amounts of time on the back side. By this, I mean putting all of the information in the ad up front will save you a hundred phone calls asking basic things like "how does it run?" or "how much rust does it have?" The information needs to be truthful and straight forward. By the time the person contacts you, the only thing they should have to ask is "when can I come see it?" If they have a bunch of questions about the car, you did it wrong. Oh, and it seems ridiculous that I should even need to mention this, but I keep seeing this weird-ass move of not putting the price in the ad.. What a waste of everyone's time, don't do that. Put the price you want in the ad. If you're flexible, there's no need to put OBO. People who are going to make an offer are going to make one no matter what. Some people will just pay the asking price if not invited to suggest otherwise. In short, "OBO and FIRM" mean zero. Just put the price.
Here is how I structure the body of an ad:
A) Overview: A short paragraph describing the item in general terms. Example:
"1931 Ford Model A Coupe. This is a running and driving car with no real rust to speak of other than the driver's side cowl bottom. The body is reasonably straight and very presentable as a daily driver. It appears to be an older restoration. Interior is in good condition with some wear on the driver's side of the seat. Engine starts and runs well. Does not overheat. It drives like a Model A should. Upgraded to hydraulic brakes, down draft carburetor, otherwise stock."
B) Bullet points: This should be the basics of the car in a list. This is especially helpful if the car has performance ad-ons or upgrades. It can contain some of the same info as the opening paragraph. Some people are bad at reading stories, everyone can read bullet points. Example:
-Original 4 cylinder motor
-Stock Model A 3 speed transmission
-Stock rear end
-1940 Ford hydraulic brakes
-Unknown downdraft intake
-Single 94 Carburetor
C) Closing paragraph: This should be a short overview of the car and at least some hint of why you're selling it. Example:
"This really is a nice running and driving Model A Coupe. I have owned and enjoyed it for five years, but interests have changed and it's time for someone else to enjoy it." OR "I bought this car a couple of months ago thinking I would use it as a fun weekend cruiser, but I've found something else that would work better for my family instead." Whatever the case is, even if you're just flipping it, make it sound nice, but never lie or attempt to mislead someone, "I bought this car from the son of the original owner a few weeks ago and have decided not to keep it. It was a well maintained and cared for car for many years and should make someone a nice, reliable toy."
D) Contact info: I know you don't want to hear this, but you need to put your phone number in the ad. "But Jake, s-s-s-Spammers and s-s-s-SCAMMERS!" Yeah, I get it.. But the deal is this: Serious buyers want to contact you directly, right then, with a phone call. Bullshitters email back and forth. If I'm interested in purchasing something and there is no phone number, I assume you're not very concerned about selling it. You need to put your phone number in the ad and just deal with the couple of spam calls you *might* get. It's a smaller thing than you think. And your phone number is already likely floating all around in cyberspace anyway. Bite the bullet, put it in there.
So, there you have it. Results may vary, but this is the basic formula that I adhere to and it works well for me. This tends to vet the bullshitters, time wasters, and tire kickers and puts the most serious buyers in front of you from the start. The goal is to be a quick, easy, painless transaction that everyone walks away from happy. Spend the time at the beginning to build a proper ad, you will be thankful you did once you click "post".