Dealing with Private Buyers

Dealing with Private Buyers

Although a dealer will offer you a much lower price than you could achieve by selling privately, you may feel tempted to accept their offer, simply to avoid the potential hassle of selling it yourself. However, if you know what to expect and how to deal with private buyers, then you should be able to spot and avoid time wasters, hagglers or thieves.

Arranging Viewings

The major consideration when arranging a viewing is to ensure the safety and security of yourself, your car and your home. Make sure someone is with you during the viewing if you feel vulnerable, and aim to meet viewers at your home in daylight hours. This will also give them plenty of opportunity to examine the car thoroughly.

Some thieves pose as buyers to assess your security arrangements and either return at a later date to steal your car or break into your home. Make sure that you don't leave any of your house or car keys lying around and that your house is absolutely secure.

Test Drives

  • Check that the buyer is insured to drive your car, otherwise you could be liable for any accidents they may have. If they have comprehensive cover on their own car, then they'll be covered as third-party on your car. Alternatively, ask your insurance company to extend your policy to cover any drivers whilst you sell your car.
  • Ask to see a valid full driving licence, and make a note of the licence number.
  • There is always the worry that a thief may pose as a buyer and simply drive off with your car. Never let any potential buyer take the car out on a test drive on their own - even if they offer their own keys as security. The car they've brought with them could be stolen too.
  • Never leave the keys in the ignition; when it's time for the test drive, get into the passenger seat and then hand over the keys. Be wary if the buyer asks you to swap seats; make sure you have the car keys before you do so.
  • Let the buyers follow their own route, as they may be suspicious if you tell them what roads they must take. Allow them to drive on a variety of roads and for a decent amount of time - at least 30 minutes. Be prepared for people to drive your car hard; they have be able to test it fully. However, if you feel that they're seriously abusing it, politely ask them to take it more gently. If necessary, demand that they stop; after all it's your car, so it's your decision.


Many buyers now choose to pay for a professional car inspection. If you're serious about selling the car, then you shouldn't have any qualms about this. However, you will need to bear in mind that inspections can often take a few days to organise, so you will have to put any other buyers on hold until it has been completed. However, the fact that the potential buyer is willing to spend money on checking your car should prove their interest.


Negotiating the price is all part and parcel of buying or selling a car. Try to remain emotionally detached from the process; set a price in your head beforehand and keep it in mind during negotiations. This will mean you're better-prepared to remain firm. However, this isn't to say that you shouldn't be flexible or consider reasonable offers; there's no point turning away a buyer for the sake of £50 or so - it will cost you far more in re-advertising fees, time and hassle.

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