Not unlike the Utah housing market, new and used car prices are soaring due to low supply and high demand, according to NPR. The Washington Post reports used car prices have increased 17% over the last 17 months — more than any other commodity on the market.
What does this mean for sellers? Your vehicle and its listing on KSL Cars both need to be top notch to fetch top dollar.
KSL Cars is the perfect place to list your vehicle for sale, but there is a lot more to creating an eye-catching listing than simply snapping a few lunch-time photos, writing a brief description and calling it good.
With the help of Premier Detailing Utah, we have compiled a list of six essential elements to ensure your car sells fast, hassle-free and for your full asking amount.
1. Know the market and price your vehicle competitively
The first step to a faster sale is knowing what you have. Not in an arrogant "my 1998 Civic is slammed so give me $9,000 without test driving it" kind of way, but by truly knowing how your car is performing in the used car market.
Just because you are nostalgically attached to that old 2000 Toyota Corolla you went to BYU with does not mean it's worth $7,000. There were a lot of Corollas produced, most of which have been run hard and worn out, just like yours.
Contrast that with a beloved off-road enthusiast vehicle, like a 2000 Toyota Land Cruiser with the same amount of miles, and you are probably going to be able to get a pretty penny out of it considering its legacy and nameplate.
National Automobile Dealers Association and Kelley Blue Book are some of the more popular resources for valuation. Banks use the NADA value, so keep that in mind if your potential buyers will be financing the vehicle. You should also browse KSL Cars and look at the results of auction sites to see what your specific model is selling for.
Keep in mind that if your vehicle is rare or the heart's desire of a specific enthusiast group, the pricing strategy may not fit the parameters of what NADA or KBB would suggest your car is worth. If your car falls into this category, you would do well to join some Facebook groups or online forums that discuss your vehicle to determine what similar models have sold for recently.
As an example, take this 1991 Acura Legend LS sold here in Utah last year. While not a collector's car in some eyes, there is a passionate fan-base out there willing to pay good money for it. This 1991 Acura sold well above its $2,700 NADA valuation.
Knowing what you have and pricing it competitively can cut out a lot of haggling and low-ball offers from sellers. Make sure your asking price is fair, and you'll sell the vehicle much faster.
2. Stay current on basic maintenance and repairs
Vehicles sell quickly when buyers feel like they are getting a car that has been well cared for rather than someone's neglected project. Basic repair and maintenance items that help your cause are: changing the oil, installing a new windshield, getting new tires, replacing the brake pads and remedying minor cosmetic issues.
Being up-to-date with all factory service intervals says a lot about your car, too. Have service records? Be sure to show those to potential buyers. Maintenance records and receipts are excellent evidence that you have cared for the car and that the buyer isn't inheriting problems. If your model of car is known for maintenance issues, obtaining the service records from your dealership or mechanic will only help your case in the sales process.
3. Use custom photography
We covered this topic in another article, but taking great photos of your car can make all the difference in your listing getting noticed. You can hire a professional photographer (some of my favorites are @saltcitycars, @phattyhales, @southvalleyphoto) or spend some time taking your own well-lit photos from various angles, inside and out. A great first impression goes a long way and helps your listing stand out from the other 64,000 vehicles on KSL Cars.
4. Keep it clean
It's not unusual to see vehicles that have been detailed sell for more than the asking price, because they look better than brand new. Premier Detailing Utah, founded by Parker Freitag and Troy Anderson, is one of the top-performing detailing shops in the state. When asked about the power that a detail has for the sale of a car, Parker said, "You could have two of the same car sitting next to each other, having been maintained the same, but the way they will look and sell is dramatically different if they've been detailed and protected. Yes, you put more money into it, but you'll 100% get your money out of it," said Freitag.
5. Polish it off
Have you ever caught your car in the right light, only to discover (to your horror!) your paint is full of scratches and swirl marks? Such is the experience for many car owners, even those of brand new vehicles—and they can be a huge deterrent to potential buyers.
Not to fear, paint can be polished to look even better than new.
"Even a simple polish can make your car look amazing. Nobody wants to go look at something with dirt or scratches. Cars and boats we work on sell faster, and for higher, than similar cars that haven't been touched up," Freitag went on to say.
"Paint, even with wax applied, will eventually oxidize and discolor. The only way to remove it is to polish it. With the Utah atmosphere, and with the UV rays we have, it will just kill it," added Anderson. "We can get about 90% of all imperfections out of the paint. It will look the best it's ever looked after we're done with it."
6. Get a ceramic coating
If you really want to go the extra mile and get more for your vehicle, consider getting a ceramic coating.
While waxes and sealants were the gold standard in paint protection for many years, ceramic coatings have taken over as the premier method for adding an incredible gloss finish and increasing durability. Ceramic coatings usually provide 3-5 years of near-maintenance-free gloss and protection. To clean, simply spray with water and its hydrophobic properties take care of the rest.
"There are a wide variety of coatings, but the coatings at Premier Detailing Utah are on another level, and will for sure make your car look better and sell for more than the competition," said Anderson.
Ceramic coatings do cost more than a wax detail, but for a better-than-new finish that takes little to no maintenance for years to come, it's worth it. Not only will you get your money out of it when you sell your car, but the buyer will also be pleased to know their new car is already protected and doesn't need any immediate cosmetic touch-ups.
"Everything you need to protect your car, we've got it," said Parker.