The Reluctant Seller

Most of the time, money drives people to sell a car. They hear about a sale for $100,000 or $1 million at Barrett-Jackson or RM and call me to talk about price and condition. I often have to explain how their car isn’t the match for the one that just sold for big money. It’s my job to educate the client out of his reluctance to sell at market price and to explain that the big sale was literally one in a million.

It’s a difficult time to be a seller, because the market is so strong and people don’t know if it’s hit the crest of the wave yet. Sellers are reluctant because they don’t want to act before prices peak. Prices will go back down, but when?

In other cases, selling is age-driven. At 50, someone may want to hold onto a car for the long haul, and that makes him reluctant to sell. But when he reaches 80 years old and he’s not driving it, maybe it’s time to let it go.

Another type of reluctant seller is the person who wants to sell and has an appraisal done. Sometimes the appraiser writes it for what the owner thinks the car is worth, which is impossibly high. In these cases I suggest sending it to auction to let the market decide. My original valuation is usually pretty close.

It’s easier to sell something if it is the best, so there’s no need for people with top cars to be reluctant in this market. People will pay extra to get the best; that’s the “I want it and I want it now” mentality. It’s when cars aren’t as good, or the owner’s view of the car is inaccurate, that things become difficult.

The worst case of seller’s reluctance is when you’re dealing with several family members. Once, I was negotiating to buy a car from four siblings, one of whom wanted to keep the car for restoration. I explained how long it would take, the cost and where the market would be when the car was restored. I listened carefully and then got creative. The family had not been together in many years, because they couldn’t afford to travel. I made a fair offer and suggested that the money go into a trust and that they vacation together annually. They pooled the money, put it in a trust and they met in Hawaii for Christmas.

What it comes down to is that you have to listen very carefully, be patient and be creative with your offer or solution. In many cases, you’ll find that sellers aren’t so reluctant after all.

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