There was a very recent case of a Georgia couple who was killed after answering a Craigslist ad for a 1966 Mustang. There is a suspect in custody, and police think robbery was the motive. The couple’s SUV was found submerged in a lake.
Evil lurks all around us, and there have been many crimes, including murder, associated with Craigslist. These instances are rare, but do happen.
1. The biggest rule when buying or selling a car on Craigslist, never ever meet at your home, or the home of a seller.
If it looks like you and the other party might come to terms, meet them at a very public place like a Starbucks, or 7-11, someplace where there are a lot of people.
2. The prospective buyer will probably want to drive the car but do not accompany them.
Instead, get their driver’s license, make sure the picture matches, and hold their license until they return. Request a test-drive of no more than 10-minutes. If you are the buyer, reverse the order, and insist on driving by yourself.
3. If you and the buyer/seller come to terms, arrange for the exchange of money and title. This, too, should be done in a public place.
Although there is a small risk of accepting certified funds, such as a cashier’s check or money order, do not take a personal check at all. The safest way is a bank wire transfer. Make sure you sign the title in the appropriate places, record the mileage, and prepare in advance a bill of sale. You can find free templates online. Be sure you have the buyer’s name, address, phone number, and driver’s license number, and hang onto it in case something happens later. These precautions should make for a safe transaction for you.
4. If you are the seller, in advance of placing the ad, have any service records you have readily available.
Buyers like to know a car has been maintained, so be ready. If there are mechanical or cosmetic flaws, spell those out in the listing. There is no need in surprising a buyer with problems after they have driven to see the car. With that said, be sure to point out the positives, like if it is a one owner car, or a non-smoker car, or if you know for sure it has never been in a wreck. Make sure the car is clean and take a lot of photos. Although your listing may only allow you a limited number of pictures, have more available to email your prospective buyer. Pictures sell cars, plain and simple.
5. Choose the way you want to communicate with prospects.
Email or phone works well, but I would start with email only, or possibly text messaging. If your buyer is interested and you want to move to phone call, use your cell phone, not home phone.
6. Search Craigslist listings in your area for cars similar to yours and determine the pricing ranges.
Do not be too high or low. If you price on the upper side of the market, include that you would entertain serious, reasonable offers.
These tips will work at other websites too, but in particular, I would use this information and follow it closely when listing on Craigslist. I can’t stress enough, safety first. Be smart, be aware, and trust your instincts when it comes to shady people.