How to tell someone they’re selling their car for too cheap?

By Colin Wood
Nov 14, 2022 | Buying and Selling, Discussion, Buying a Car, Sell a Car

Photography Credit: Eddie Jones/Courtesy Unsplash

It’s all too common to see “No lowballing, I know what I have,” at the bottom of a listing (often in all caps and in all bold), but have you ever dealt with someone trying to sell a car for far too little?

Whether it was someone you were personally buying from or someone you know trying to sell, how do you tell them that they are undervaluing their car for sale?

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earlybroncoguy1 Reader
11/14/22 4:22 p.m.

Buy it. Flip it.

Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
11/14/22 4:28 p.m.
earlybroncoguy1 said:

Buy it. Flip it.

came here to say this.  Either buy it and resell it or keep your mouth shut and let someone else get a deal.  There's no need to tell the seller their price is too low.

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
11/14/22 4:47 p.m.

I disagree. 

A friend is the Service Manager at a BMW dealership. 

Customer came in with a 328D with a contaminated fuel system. It needed $13,000 worth of work. Book value was $35,000. 

She said she had enough, and asked my friend if he'd be interested in buying it. He looked it over, and told her that he didn't buy and sell cars in that price range. She pushed back. 

He told her that he typically flipped cars for more like $5000, and he couldn't in good faith offer her that. He told her that she should fix the car and sell it for $35K. 

She pushed back again, and asked him for an offer. He said the most he could offer was $5-7K. She asked him if he would do $7000. They shook hands. 

All repairs are complete. He now has $11,000 in a perfectly good running excellent condition $35,000 car (which he intends to flip soon). 

He got the deal because he was completely honest with her, and genuinely looking out for her best interests. 

Appleseed MegaDork
11/14/22 5:01 p.m.

Be honest  and tell them. Tell them why, and what you would do. After that, it's no longer your business .

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/14/22 5:17 p.m.

a few years ago an old friend called me with an offer:  he was original owner of a 2009-ish BMW 335i sedan, sport package, manual trans, blue over black.  beautiful car.  it developed a bottom end noise and the diagnosis was bad rod bearing.  Dealer said $7500 to fix, blue book was $9500.  he offered the car to me for the difference, ie $2000.

i turned him down because i couldn't take that deal with a clear conscience.

i talked him into fixing it himself.  he built an SBC Fiero 25 years ago, so I knew he was capable of fixing it himself, even if not interested. so he got the necessary tools and pulled the pan and did it in his garage over the course of about 4 weeks of just messing with it a little here and a little there. buttoned it up and it ran beautifully and he still drives it.

jharry3 GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/14/22 5:27 p.m.

Last week on the Houston Facebook market place a lady was selling a twin turbo BMW M4 for $4000. I think around a 2010 model.  She said it needed "the turbo's sealed" and an oxygen sensor.  She put in the ad that it was too much of a Hot Rod for her and wanted a less sporty car.

It sold in less than an hour.       

rslifkin UberDork
11/14/22 5:28 p.m.

Sometimes people just want something gone more than they want money, either because they're fed up with it, they don't know what it's worth, or whatever. 

californiamilleghia UltraDork
11/14/22 5:37 p.m.
rslifkin said:

Sometimes people just want something gone more than they want money, either because they're fed up with it, they don't know what it's worth, or whatever. 

Or they are selling it for what their Ex said he paid for it..........hahaha.....

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
11/14/22 5:38 p.m.

My problem is more with people who tell you your asking price is too high, and then helpfully suggest what you should be asking for it. Those people can go berk themselves.

wearymicrobe PowerDork
11/14/22 5:41 p.m.

Since I come across this all the time. I offer them there asking price and tell them that they are to low for the market. 90% of the time they take my offer and move on. They don't care. 


Now since I broker a bit and sell things for people most of my issues are people watching mecum and thinking there 6 cylinder 67 mustang is worth 40K. 

Appleseed MegaDork
11/14/22 7:03 p.m.

In reply to wearymicrobe :

I'll  bet you love dealing with the owners of rare Corvettes.

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/14/22 7:06 p.m.

A friend was going through a really tough time and he offered me his $4,000 vintage coffee maker for $400. I told him that I couldn't take advantage of him like that, that he'd get a lot more on Craigslist.

I saw him  a couple weeks later and asked what he'd done with the coffee maker. He sold it to his lawyer for $400.

damn morals!


AClockworkGarage Dork
11/14/22 9:23 p.m.

If the price is significantly lower than it should be I generally pass.

To me it means there's something hidden wrong with it, or some title shenanigans, or it was recently involved in a crime...

If a deal seems too good to be true...

Toebra Dork
11/15/22 12:37 a.m.

How do I tell them they are selling it for too little?  I say, you should ask for more money for that.

akylekoz UltraDork
11/15/22 6:52 a.m.

People like me usually sell for what an item is worth to then.  

89 SR5 4Runner $2000, I had my fun with it an it didn't owe me anything.

89 M3, $8900, I paid $9995 for it and had 15 years of fun.

85 Grand National, $5000, it's what I had into it.  Including a full down to the very straight and sold steel paint job.  The paint job cost more than I sold the car for that but Insurance paid for it.

Just those three today could pay off my house an buy a new toy.  No one ever told my to ask more.   Some would offer less then take it for asking price, when I told them that I knew what it was worth.

I have a hard time taking advantage of someone that doesn't know the value of their item but you know the next guy won't.

As long as the seller is getting what they are asking and there is no harm in it get the cash out of your pocket fast.


ToManyProjects New Reader
11/15/22 10:14 a.m.

If I'm not haggling, you're asking too little.

wearymicrobe PowerDork
11/15/22 10:17 a.m.
Appleseed said:

In reply to wearymicrobe :

I'll  bet you love dealing with the owners of rare Corvettes.

Funnily enough corvette owners tend to be realistic with the prices if they want them gone. Or they are disappointed with the actual value after a restoration and keep the car. 

The best case is when they realize its not priceless and start to use the car or realize that a few thousand miles means nothing in the grand scheme of things even if it is rare and valuable.

Porsche owners are by far the very worst. Especially old aircooled owners. No amount of data will bring them in line with the market it seams, IMO 

dculberson MegaDork
11/15/22 10:19 a.m.

"I'll take it!"

More seriously, I had a family friend that wanted to sell a car offer it to me, and I told her she could get a lot more selling it elsewhere. She persisted and I gave her an offer which she accepted - below market but I wasn't sure what I needed to do to it and how much it would sell for. Once I got it spruced up and sold I kicked some money back to her and she was very happy.

trigun7469 UltraDork
11/15/22 10:22 a.m.

How "I know what I have" was born laugh 

Kubotai Reader
11/15/22 1:04 p.m.

Since no one has mentioned it and Jay Leno is on our minds because of his recent misfortune, I'll remind you of his story about this.  The widow lady called to see if he would buy her late husband's Ferrari.  Before her husband died he had told her it was worth $350,000 and that is what she wanted.  Jay told her it was worth closer to $4 million but she didn't believe it.  Jay set her up with someone to sell it at auction and told her if it went for more than $3.5 million she had to bake him cookies.  It sold for $3.75 million.  I'm not sure if he got his cookies or not.  

Wishing Jay a speedy recovery...

ShawnG MegaDork
11/15/22 1:08 p.m.

Repeat after me: "I find it best to stay out of the affairs of others".

Remember, no good deed goes unpunished. 

350z247 Reader
11/15/22 7:40 p.m.

That is 100% their fault for not using the dozens of free online resources at their disposal. If it's a stranger, they're on their own; they did this to themselves. Take the good deal and be happy. 

Tom1200 UberDork
11/15/22 9:36 p.m.

I've had a couple where a friend called on obscure cars and motorcycles. Both were selling the car after a family number passed; they were grieving and in no shape to properly value the car. They offered me a ridiculous price and quickly set them straight on the value.

In the case of people just wanting the car gone I've taken the deal. 

johndej SuperDork
11/15/22 10:26 p.m.

Between my brothers and I we've brokered many deals for friends and family when folks have offered us cars to us at basically trade in. My cousin was offered $800 on an 09 civic last year, told him I'd get him $3k and keep anything over, washed it up and listed at $4k and ended up with $700 myself. Ends up as a win win typically and they tip us off to anyone else with anything neat.

Someone else, well your on your own if its not obviously taking advantage. Example I was first in line for a na miata two years ago listed at like 10:30 pm for $1,100. Arrange to meet the guy during my lunch break the next day. He takes the ad down at like 9 am the next morning. Messaged him and he said he's getting so many replies it's driving him crazy, if I can get it right now he'll take $800, done.

te72 HalfDork
11/16/22 1:29 a.m.

Pretty sure the only time I've ever even had the opportunity to let someone know they might have a special car was someone selling what appeared to be a Ford Thunderbolt. Not something you see every day, and to most folks, just looks like a typical old car on Craigslist.


I just mentioned that they may want to do some homework on the car, and mentioned it *might* be a Thunderbolt. They were appreciative.

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