I Sold My Motorcycle on Craigslist – Tips on Selling

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She was a good bike in her day, but she had to go.

Four years ago I purchased a 1983 Honda V45 Magna motorcycle for $1,800.  As a youngster I grew up riding around on my dad’s 1984 V65 Magna and had wanted my own for years.  After being wanton so long I was totally stoked to be buying this bike.  Looking back now it pains me to say this, but it was pretty much a big, fat, hairy disappointment – almost straight outta the gate.

The day I took ‘er home everything was kosher but shortly thereafter she started leaking oil, then developed a stripped 5th gear, then came down with wiring problems and rotted fuel lines, until finally… she blew a clutch while I was taking my wife for a drive – which was the last straw for both of us.  I really wanted to keep the bike, but she just never treated me well.

An attempted sale

In late autumn of 2009 I finally decide to post an ad on Craigslist for $600.  I know right… what better time to sell a motorcycle than right before winter in Michigan?  Don’t ask me what I was thinking… to be honest, I just wanted to get the bike out of my garage to make room for a new workbench.

I didn’t receive one phone call on the ad.

Lesson learned:  never try to sell a motorcycle before winter… you’ll be lucky to give it away.

The 2 hour start to finish sale

I didn’t get my workbench before winter.  Sure, I could have taken the bike to the junkyard for $50, but the Jabs in me wouldn’t let it happen.  I knew I could get at least $250 if I waited till spring.  So we waited out the cold Michigan winter with the hopes of selling for big money a few months down the road.

This past weekend spring sprung here in Michigan so I quickly threw up my ad on Craigslist and went about my business.  While upstairs with the better half I noticed my phone ringing, but thought nothing of it.  A few minutes later it rang a 2nd time, then a 3rd, and then a 4th before I irritably ran down to see which family member was trying to reach me by calling over and over again.  To my surprise the calls were not from family, but four separate and unrecognized numbers.  Then the light bulb went off, “Ohhhhh… the bike!  Wow, already?”

I was very surprised.  Within 15 minutes of publishing the ad my phone was blowing up.  As I began calling the buyers back, more calls were coming through on the other line – apparently I was asking a good price for the bike!

The 2nd caller on the list offered to pick up the bike for $250 right away.  I accepted – a rash decision that ended up costing me at least $250 more.

Within an hour the buyer showed up at my home, we exchanged title for money and he was on his way.  From start to finish the sale took less than two hours to complete… and I deleted my Craigslist ad accordingly.

Tips on selling

If I had it to do over again I would do several things differently.  As I mentioned above, accepting the first offer on the bike was a mistake that cost me at least $250.  I know this because the 4th guy I called (I returned the calls of all interested parties) was flabbergasted I was letting the bike go for $250 and offered to give me $500.  As badly as I wanted to accept the offer, I had already given the other guy my word and had to stick to it.

Next time I sell a decently priced item I will follow these guidelines:

  1. Low price or best offer. If you know you can sell the item for $500, publish the ad as “$300 or best offer.”  This will get the calls rolling in.
  2. Just take offers first. Give yourself a designated time frame or number of contacts before deciding to move on.  Do not make any commitments to sell at this point, just take offers.
  3. Play buyers against each other. Don’t lie, just play the actual offers against the others.  If one buyer offers $400, let the others know.  If they are truly interested in the purchase they will beat the offer.
  4. Make the sale. Once you secure the highest offer… make the sale.

I sold the bike for $250, but could have sold it for $500 or more by following these simple steps.  Lesson learned.

What about you?

Have you recently sold an item and learned a few lessons of your own?  Any tips on selling you want to share?

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