By Shari Prymak

Selling your car privately is a great way to pocket extra cash that would otherwise be lost if you traded your car in at the dealership. In addition, not only do private sales benefit the seller, but they also benefit the buyer, who gains the opportunity to learn otherwise unattainable information about the car through the previous owner. The buyer can also save money by not having to pay dealership mark-ups and retail prices. Why pay a middle man, right?

Having read countless advertisements, however, through various sources like Autotrader, Craigslist, etc., it amazes me how so many people have no idea of how to properly write an informative car advert. It is not uncommon to stumble upon an ad which fails to list something extremely important like mileage or even price, but still mention that the car has AM/FM radio, even though every car built in the last 30 years has AM/FM radio. Why!

The following is a list of information, in order of priority and importance, which every car advertisement should include.

1)Post a decent picture of your car. A picture can say a thousand words and, in this case, can give potential buyers a general idea of the condition and configuration of your car. It is an invaluable source of information, so much so, that an ad without a picture will immediately cause many potential buyers to look elsewhere. Make sure that your car looks clean and presentable in the picture. A picture of a dirty car gives the impression of an owner who simply doesn’t care.

2)Provide the year/make/model, mileage, transmission type, and a PRICE. This all sounds like basic information, but you would be amazed by how many ads fail to include at least one of these. At the very least, include all of this information in your ad, especially your asking price.

3)Describe the condition and maintenance/service history. Give a description of what kind of shape your car is in, both cosmetically and mechanically. Describe what kind of maintenance and service your car has received, such as how often it has received fluid changes and tune up’s, and whether any major services have been performed. If you saved any service records or documented the service history, mention it, because this will alleviate a lot of guess work and expense for the next owner. Highlighting the good aspects of your car while touching on the bad will make you appear honest to shoppers, increasing your approachability.

4)Briefly list appealing and interesting options/features. If you know them, list the optional features that your car is equipped with. If you don’t know them, then list features which you think may appeal to potential buyers. Don’t waste time and ad space by listing the standard features like a CD player or power windows. Why would a potential buyer care that your car has power windows when practically every modern car has them?

5)Be honest, courteous, and polite. You have gone through the trouble of writing an informative ad and posting it on an advertising outlet, so what ever you do, don’’t ruin your efforts by including the supremely condescending words “serious buyers only,” or any variation thereof, in your ad. Not only are these words insulting to potential buyers, but they make you, the seller, look like a difficult person to deal with. Only one person is going to buy your car, and until that person tenders the cash, you must be willing to respond back to anyone who inquires about your ad in a courteous manner. If you can’t do that, trade your car in at the dealer like everyone else.

Try to put yourself in the shoes of a shopper and provide information that they would want to know. You are the seller, which means the onus is on you to make a presentable case to convince the shopper to buy from you and not someone else. An uninformative, disjointed, or impolite ad will simply be ignored because it doesn’’t merit consideration, especially when there are likely hundreds of other ads out there for similar cars. Trust me, given the sheer number of crappy ads out there, a well written, smart, informative ad is practically guaranteed to demand attention and will get almost any car sold in no time.