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How to sell your car in Virginia: Step by step guide

hands on steering wheel
(© Marco –

There are multiple benefits of owning a car as opposed to leasing it, and one of them is that if you’re pressed for cash, you can always sell a car you own and buy a cheaper model. However, selling a car fast and without a problem is a hard thing to achieve.

If you’re thinking about selling a motor vehicle or are in the middle of selling one, follow this guide to make sure your deal closes without a single issue.

Get the paperwork straight

The first thing you need to do before you consider selling your vehicle is gather the documents that are needed to close the deal. You’ll need to get your registration certificate, PUC, and several forms needed to finish the registration procedure at the RTO.

You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with the bill of sale and have a drafted copy ready to sign with a new customer. You can check out Virginia templates by FormsPal to customize and download a bill of sale template.

Finally, you’ll have to figure out the taxation scheme for the sale of vehicles. Your buyer will have to pay the 4% sales tax and pay the annual personal property tax of around 4% as well. As a seller, you will have to report the profits to the IRS. But you don’t necessarily have to pay a tax.

You only need to pay the capital gain tax if you’ve profited from the deal. If you’ve bought the car for $5000 and spent $2000 on it during the time you owned it, but sold it for $6000, it’s an overall loss for you, and you don’t pay any taxes. Naturally, you’ll need the receipts to prove you did spend all that money. If the difference in price is in your favor, you pay the capital gains tax on that difference.

It’s best to sort this out before you even set out to sell your car to make sure you can file taxes right away.

Set the right price

Setting the right price is crucial for selling your vehicle. Make it your first step to compare the market prices and see what’s the median price for this type of car. Take into consideration what configurations of the vehicle cost above average — if yours has premium features, you may be able to sell it for a larger price tag.

Now, if your goal in selling a car is getting cash fast, it’s best to sell a bit below the market average. If you don’t care about timing, go with the average or a bit above average price. But be ready that a lot of people will contact you trying to negotiate the price.

Pretty up your vehicle

This one is a no-brainer. If you want to have a small edge on the other folks selling similar cars, make an effort to make your car look pretty. Wash and wax it before taking photos, and pretty up the interior as well. It will only take a couple of hours to do but you’ll end up with an ad that looks much better than the rest.

Create a killer ad

When you’re writing the ad for your car, it’s important not to get into direct response marketing. Most people who are looking for used cars online are looking for a straight-up and truthful ad. They want to see the information about the vehicle — what repairs have been done, what should be improved upon purchase. When you’re open about faults, you’re going to have a lot more calls from buyers who are ready to make a purchase fast since they already know what they’re signing up for. You’re also going to have less negotiations and cancelled deals due to the buyer finding out a negative aspect of the vehicle when taking a look at it.

The headline of the ad should be straightforward as well. Most people would be looking for make and model, not for “Best family car” on the platform. Make sure you make the headline search-friendly, the clicks and calls will come from the great photos you took.

Dealing with callers

Provided you’ve taken great photos and written a straightforward ad, you’re going to have a lot of calls. It’s best to redirect them all to voice mail to deal with them at once instead of interrupting your day for each caller. Take one hour after work to listen through the voice mail and accept the applicants who ask concrete questions about the vehicle’s state instead of those who ask for discounts.

Call those people or send them photos they request. From there, you can set up a couple of appointments.

The test drive

Most potential buyers will want to meet to take a look at the car you’re selling, have a test drive, or take it to their trusted mechanic. Allow all of that but only under your supervision. Join them on the test drive and have them pay for the check-up at the mechanic. In some cases, there’s some space for bargaining if they believe the maintenance cost after purchase is going to be significant. It’s up to you whether to accept the bargain, depending on how fast you want to sell the car. If you can afford to wait for a couple of months, feel free to wait for another buyer. If you want to sell it faster and the discount your buyer asks for isn’t that large, go ahead.

Sign the bill of sale

Once you’ve found your ideal buyer, it’s just a matter of going through the legal motions. Download a bill of sale template and sign it. Then, handle the legal issues at the DMV to transfer the title and registration of the vehicle. Once you have the funds transferred to your account, all you have left to do is file taxes.

Wrap up

Selling a vehicle is may be a struggle, but if you figure out all the legal stuff beforehand, it becomes easy. Locate all the documents you need to complete the deal, make good photos of your car, and write a decent ad, and you’ve done most of the work.

Story by Gad Goldman

augusta free press
augusta free press