Selling and buying a car on online auctions are actually two similar things. What I recommended for sellers can be pointers to buyers. As well as pointing out the good sellers!
Buying a car
But let's go over what I would expect if I was buying, say, a Porche on online auctions. Remember that you can use the same techniques for any make of car though.
- The title should, like a good news headline, give me a good synopsis of what I can expect from the listiing. Year, model, any special selling point such as options or price, etc. Capture my interest. And they might capture my bucks.
- All listings start with the auto-filled in info. Again, year, model, colors, These are automatically filled in when the buyer lists. But there are mistakes. For example, online auctions takes the VIN number and puts in info. But the VIN sometimes doesn't indicate a C4 from a C2. Big difference.
- Descriptions. How much info is there? Is the description over the top ("The best one on the market, absolutely impeccable, etc.)? What I want really want to know is: how was it maintained, any accidents, repainted, any upgrades, engine rebuilt or resealed (as for 964), tire tread, wheels, etc. etc. I hate the two sentence description. If the seller doesn't want to spend the time, well, why should you.
- Photos. Photos, Photos. I want to see enough to replace an on-site iinspection., But remember, it's easy to retouch pictures. Better get a third-party PPI, preferably from a Porsche Center or independent Porsche Specialist.
- Contact the seller. Either through online auctions or their phone listings. Talk to them. Try to get a sense if they know what they are talking about or bullshitting. Are they pushy? Of course, this is great time to see if they make you an offer or ask what you'd like to pay. This way you can get a feel of what they will take. But don't jump unless you're certain.
- Watch out if they try to push financing on you or any of the old 'car dealer' tricks. The best thing is that they don't have you in their dealership. This way they don't do the old 'May I have your credit card..." holding you hostage, or bringing in their sales manager to apply more pressure. Makes me feel like Hank Hill, wanting to kick some ass! If you are financing, try to find out what you'd pay through a third party funding source. If you have money in the bank, check with them. Often you can get a good rate if you can back it up with a history with your bank.
- Also remember, Porsche of North America has subsidized rates and options. Often it's less than normal dealer funding. Loans are a big income source for dealers. First get the bottom line price for a car, then check the funding. Don't let the seller try to bundle everything. Can you read 'Hidden Profits'?
- Know the prices. Check out NADA and Blue Book prices. But remember that the market is fickle. Some cars, like 993's can go for a premium, others like 996 cabs are in plentiful supply. A good way to check is to watch online auctions auctions for similar cars and see what they actually sell for...real money. Also, some cars ae seasonal, like cabriolets. They are not hitting their Blue Book levels this time (winter-early spring) of year.
- To check out the similar cars I go to the Porsche section of online auctions motors, choose my model number, click on type of transmission (if that matters) then put them in recently listed form. This way I can see what has been added recently. If you're just checking prices it doesn't matter. You can also look at completed auctions.
- I also visit Cars.com and AutoTrader.com to see what's available. I find prices there all over place. But I also see the same cars listed on online auctions sometimes and can either see more pictures, learn more about the dealers or private parties, and get any idea of what neighborhood 'price-wise' they are looking to get.
Ok, you're in on the bidding. If you are serious it might pay to give the seller a call. Remember, ask any questions now! Also, if you're really serious and you think that you can work something out with the seller, maybe you should get a PPI, a pre-purchase inspection. A local Main dealer may do it for you. Just might cost a bit more. Or Google "Porsche specialists" in that area. If the seller says, "Trust me, I had it checked out" do you feel comfortable enough to do so? It's tens of thousands of your dollars.
Also remember, if you click the "Make an Offer" button you can stipulate the offer is subject to the car passing a PPI.