Selling privately can give you a great deal when it comes to moving your van on, but it can also carry risk and be time-consuming. Dan Powell of Honest John Vans explains.
We all love our vans, but sooner or later the day will come when you have to sell it. For many tradesmen the decision to sell their van privately is the most lucrative, as it usually means you can get a much higher price compared to a simple trade-in. But if you do sell private, where do you start? And how can you protect yourself from crime?
Prepare your van
It might sound simple, but start the process by washing your van and clearing the interior of all tools, materials and (more importantly) rubbish. No van buyer will want to sift through your two-year-old collection of crisp packets and coffee cups when it comes to inspecting the vehicle.
“When it comes to price, look at other similar vans for sale and, emotions aside, price yours fairly based on its age, mileage and condition.”
Next, consider paying for any small repairs that may have been on your ‘to do’ list for some time – body scuffs and such like – as this will help maintain the price and if the MoT has less than six months left, renew it as this will make your van easier to sell.
Advertising is fairly easy these days and usually free, but you still have to put some effort in. Start by taking lots of photos. Ensure you have a clear shot of the front three-quarters of the van, along with pictures of the front, side, rear and interior. Always disclose any damage in the advert and give the buyer a clear idea of exactly what they’re looking at. When it comes to price, look at other similar vans for sale and, emotions aside, price yours fairly based on its age, mileage and condition.
Never let anyone test drive without ﬁrst seeing their driving licence and a valid insurance certiﬁcate. Sometimes your own insurance policy will allow another insurance driver to use your vehicle, but double check and accept no excuses from the perspective buyer. Never give anyone the keys when you’re not in the van, either – they could just drive away.
The safest way of ensuring that payment has been received is to deal in cash, but this can be unnerving, especially when dealing with an unknown buyer and a large quantity of bank notes. If your van is worth a lot of money, you should both go to the bank and see that a transfer is made together. Only then hand over the keys.
You’ll then need to notify the DVLA of the sale immediately, too, via the phone or online to get a refund for any road tax you’ve still got left to run. Remember, you can no longer automatically transfer the tax to the new owner.
Avoiding the fraudsters
Sadly there are some dishonest individuals who will use your van sale as an opportunity to make money illegally. One of the classic signs of fraudulent activity is a buyer who emails you desperate to buy your van without looking at it. Usually this is the beginning of a scam that will involve siphoning money from your bank account, or stealing the vehicle. The buyer will either claim that an online service is withholding the money until the van is collected (which won’t happen), or will make a bogus transfer for the wrong amount, before asking for a ‘refund’ from you.
A bogus buyer might also set up an official looking escrow service, which, when genuine, holds payment for expensive goods or services until they’ve been delivered – offering security for buyer and seller. However, it’s not uncommon for a bogus buyer to set up a fake escrow service then tell the seller that the funds have cleared via an official looking document. The result: van gone and money nowhere to be seen.