Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

Negotiating with a private seller

Negotiating with private seller

Many find negotiating with a private seller to be easier than with a dealer. Private sellers have different motivations, their overheads are most often non-existent, and they are less likely to hit you with a scripted sales pitch.

A private seller may also be unsure of the exact value of their car. Here are our tips for good negotiations in the private market.

Be nice, be on time

Be considerate whenever you contact the seller to organise a test drive or view the car, discuss the price or clarify details. Every interaction means a temporary interruption on their normal life – use common courtesy to be polite and flexible to accommodate both of your needs.

If they’re dealing with someone who is rude, demanding or impolite, they’re more likely to stop talking to you than lower their asking price. If they warm to you personally, you’re more likely to get what you want.

Cash in hand

You shouldn’t make yourself a target by walking around with your car-money scattered throughout your bag or stashed in your pockets. But when it comes to negotiating a price, your most powerful and alluring asset is the presence of cold, hard cash.

Having cash on hand and being willing to pay up and drive away is hugely influential on private sellers. It makes the whole transaction simple and easy.

The best way to negotiate is to refuse to negotiate

The best way to negotiate with a private seller is to not negotiate at all. Simply tell them what you’re willing to pay. If they’re not willing to budge, then this is not the car for you.

As long as you’ve done your research and have a firm idea of price, have your cash ready to go and are clear on your needs, you’re in control. 

Alternatively, haggle

Some people love to haggle. Here’s the low-down on bartering your way to a bargain. Decide on the ballpark figure the seller is likely to accept, and offer something a little lower than that number.

Say, 5% lower. Sometimes, the seller will say yes. Almost every time, they will say no. This is when you ask for their best price.

What happens next is telling. If they simply repeat the advertised price, it’s probably time to walk away. But if there is a counter-offer, it’s time to haggle. Stay committed to your pre-determined price.

Raise your offers in small and specific increments, no greater than $500 at a time. As the negotiations approach your limit, defer temporarily (I need to talk it over with my Mrs/Hubby, friend, brother, sister, parents etc.), and offer to come back to them.

Then leave. Just make sure they have your number, they may have a change of heart and give you a call after all.