How to negotiate with buyers

Negotiating is frequently the toughest part of selling a car If you’re not a born negotiator, ask someone you trust to ensure the buyer doesn’t take advantage of your inexperience.  
But if you are ready to have a crack at it, we have some helpful tips to get you going. 


Price your car with some room to move 

Advertise the car at a price allowing room to haggle, but not so high that buyers won’t even enquire. Research the market first. Also use the carsales Free Car Valuation Tool to get an idea of what similar cars have sold for. 


A seasoned buyer will tell you everything wrong with your car  

Be prepared for this. The buyer will adopt a bargaining position exploiting every advantage, whether it’s the car’s condition, colour, specification or features that aren’t fitted.  


Slow the buyer down 

Defend your car, but do so with a smile. The last thing you want is to antagonise the buyer. It’s a good car though, otherwise the buyer wouldn’t be negotiating with you to buy it.   


Address the buyer’s objections with your own answers before you begin to discuss price 

Here are some replies for neutralising objections from buyers if the car looks a bit rough, is the wrong colour, has a high odometer reading or doesn’t have all the options the buyer wants: 

  • ‘It’s very straight’,
  • ‘It’s in [very] good condition for its age’, 
  • ‘It’s tip-top mechanically and has been serviced regularly’, 
  • ‘It’s an honest family car’, 
  • ‘It’s a good colour for visibility/safety/low maintenance/heat-reflecting properties’, 
  • ‘It’s a country car that has led an easy life’, 
  • ‘It would cost a lot more with all of those features fitted’.

If talks stall at that point, mention to the buyer that you could ‘move a little bit’ on price, but ‘not too much’. Hopefully that will prompt them to make an offer. Always leave it to the buyer to make the first counter offer.  


If they want to walk, assess whether it’s worth it 

If the buyer threatens to walk away from the haggling, this is where you have to make a decision. Are there plenty of other fish in the sea, or do you need to keep this particular fish on the hook? Also, just how urgently do you need to sell the car? 

You can justifiably tell the buyer that the car has only been listed a few days and you’d like time for other buyers to come out of the woodwork.  

But if the car has been listed much longer and you’ve had no other bites, you can tell them that you can’t afford to let the car go at that price, but you’re still open to a lower price. If you’re too far apart on price, that’s where the discussion may end – without a sale.  


Signal to the potential buyer when you’ve reached your lowest price 

You need to signal to the buyer when you are near the end of your negotiations and cannot afford to go any lower on price. That’s when you tell them that your latest price offer is ‘firm’ and/or ‘final’. Once you’ve used those words, stick with that price.  


And finish the job with a handshake (or some covid-approved gesture). Good fishing... 



Related articles: 

What should I know before selling my car?  
carsales Price Indicators FAQs 

Any information on this page is provided as a guide only. It is not professional or expert advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The content may not be appropriate, correct or sufficient for your circumstances and should not be relied on as the only reason you do or don’t do anything.
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