When you’re shopping online for a used vehicle with private sellers, there may be more risk involved in the overall transaction. However, you may find that private sellers list their cars for cheaper than traditional dealerships.
Specifically, Facebook Marketplace listings may be considerably cheaper (or even ridiculously cheaper) than a run-of-the-mill dealer, but it may not be for the reason you think. In some cases, you may see used vehicle listings on Facebook for free, $1, or any other price that doesn’t even sound close to reasonable. Why?
It’s not technically a scam, but it’s a common tactic used by sellers to get their car listings at the top of search results. Many buyers shop online for cars with a filter that lists vehicle prices from lowest to highest. So when a Facebook user lists their vehicle for a ridiculously low price, they may just be trying to get you to actually see their listing among possibly thousands of other listings in your area.
What you may find in the actual description of these vehicles is the actual selling price of the car, and it may leave a bad taste in your mouth. For other cars that are listed for more reasonable prices on Facebook Marketplace, but still seem cheaper than your traditional dealership, there are many other explanations.
Dealerships have overhead and profit to worry about, so dealer pricing is likely to be higher compared to a private seller. It’s nothing personal, but like everyone else selling something, they’re trying to make some money on the sale. Private sellers typically have the same goal of making money on a sale but their biggest worry may simply be getting a fair price and finding someone to take the car off their hands. But with the rising prices of used cars right now, you may find that both dealerships and private sellers are asking a lot for their used vehicles.
There may also be more risk involved with a private party transaction since all negotiations, paperwork, and inspections are left to the buyer and the seller. And if you use peer-to-peer platforms to pay for the vehicle (such as Venmo or Paypal), and the transaction turns out to be a scam, most of these payment platforms don’t protect consumers in car-buying transactions.
While buying a car with a private party and using platforms such as Facebook Marketplace have the potential to get you a good deal, a dealership may offer a more seamless experience. You may be able to purchase additional warranty coverage, qualify for special deals and rebates, and possibly find financing opportunities with the dealership as well.
Many dealerships offer certified pre-owned programs, which can get consumers a great deal on a gently used vehicle.
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