Like most people that venture into something new, when I first started flipping cars I really didn’t know what I was doing.
Luckily over the years I’ve learned what really works. So if you think car flipping might be a side hustle that you’d be interested in pursuing this article is for you. Flipping cars for profit can be an excellent source of income that doesn’t require a big time investment on your part.
As a matter of fact, I try to spend just 3 hours for the entire finding and buying, preparing for sale, and selling process. That’s why I named my blog 3HourFlip.com. Of course, not all deals work out that way—and in fact most of them don’t—but I’ve found 3 hours to be a great guideline to use. It helps ensure that you’re minimizing your time and maximizing your profits on each car flip. What’s important is to learn how to make deals come to you so you can spend less time looking for deals and more time making money.
Before You Start
Something that you need to be aware of before you start flipping is car ownership limits. Most states in the US put a limit on the number of cars one person can have in their name within each year. So, if your state limits each individual to owning five cars per year (which is a common limit), you’ll usually only be able to flip a maximum of ten cars (five in your name and five in your spouse’s name). At $2000-$3000 per flip, ten cars can certainly be worth your time, especially if you keep your time invested low like we’ll be discussing in this article.
What Types of Cars Should You Flip?
With rare exception, I typically target lower priced vehicles in the $500-$4500 price range. Why? It’s easier to attract cash buyers in a lower price range. Most people don’t have over a few thousand bucks to spend on a car and if you attract buyers that require financing you’ll find that it adds more time to the sales process for you, the seller. Lower priced buyers also don’t obsess over imperfections in your cars. In contrast, if you’re dropping $40K on your vehicle you’ll be much more likely to expect the vehicle to be in near perfect condition.
HOUR 1 – FINDING AND BUYING
Finding and buying a great deal on a car within just one hour might seem very difficult. Well, that’s because it is. But, trust me when I say, it is very possible. The trick is to learn how to attract deals that come right to you so you don’t have to spend time searching and searching for deals.
Here are the top 3 ways that you can get deals on cars to come to you:
- Get Instant Alerts – CPRO is a great smartphone app for setting up Craigslist alerts for new listings that meet your criteria. You can set the app up to send a push notification anytime an ad description contains words like “must sell” or “make an offer.” Sellers who need to move quickly are much more likely to sell their car at a deal, and having an app like CPRO helps you get to those deals before everyone else.
- Post Targeted Craigslist Wanted Ads – I’m not talking about your grandmother’s wanted ads. Your wanted ads need to target people that are interested in a quick sale which can translate into a great deal for you. Here’s an ad that I love using:
- Pay Your Friends – Without realizing it, you probably already know someone who is thinking about buying or selling a car. Offer to pay anyone who helps you find a car that you can flip. Make it worth their while too. Pay up to a few hundred bucks for any car that you find and buy, but ONLY cars you actually buy. You don’t want everyone thinking you’re willing to pay them for every car they bring you – that wouldn’t be smart!
Inspecting the Car Before You Buy
There are a lot of things to look for when you’re determining whether or not the car you’re about to buy has problems – too many for me to list in this article. However, if you don’t feel comfortable with your ability to inspect a car yourself, you may want to consider getting the car checked out by a reputable mechanic before you make your purchase. A small investment for a qualified opinion might save you a bunch more cash in car problems down the road.
HOUR 2 – GETTING THE CAR READY TO SELL
Your vehicle may be in need of minor repair before you list it to sell. Spending a few hundred bucks on car repairs might make the difference between a few thousand bucks on the sale of the vehicle, so don’t be afraid to make a few investments here either, in order to sell at a higher price later.
You can often find retired auto technicians that work part time from home and offer discounted rates on high quality work. You can usually find ads they’ve posted on Craigslist and local newspaper classifieds. Also, a large number of car flippers choose to make repairs themselves. If you go that route you can find great deals on parts from websites like car-part.com. Personally, I’d rather pay someone to make repairs so I can keep my car sale prep time under an hour.
Clean Cars Sell Faster Than Dirty Ones
Make sure you don’t skip the step of cleaning the car. A quick rinse can make a dramatic impact on the buyer’s impression of your car. Just ask yourself, would you be interested in paying a high price for a dirty car?
Let’s Talk Pricing
I always like to price a car just over KBB® private party value. This leaves a little room for negotiation. That makes buyers like to feel like they got a great deal. But if they’re forced to pay your full asking price because you didn’t leave any negotiating room, they won’t be as excited to make a purchase.
HOUR 3 – SELLING THE CAR
There are several places to sell your car for free. Here are the top 3 places I love to sell cars.
- Craigslist – In my experience, Craigslist is by far the fastest way to sell a vehicle. I’ve even purchased a car from Craigslist, prepared it for sale, listed it on Craigslist again, and sold it on the same day. I recommend that you list basic information about your vehicle in your ad. Don’t try to write a sales page because that will turn buyers off. Just list all of the features with great pictures and you’ll get attention from buyers very quickly.
- Offer Up – Offer Up is a website and smartphone app that is very similar to Craigslist, but makes it much easier to stand out from other sellers. Offer Up even shows a history of items that you’ve sold so you’ll attract buyers that would normally be too nervous to buy from strangers on Craigslist.
- Empty Lots – Check around your area for business owners that are located on busy streets that would be willing to rent you lot space for vehicle selling. You’ll often find that they’ll happily allow you to park cars for sale in exchange for a small fee. I love these types of lots because they often provide such high traffic volumes, my cars sell extremely fast.
Don’t Try to Be a Salesperson
The most important tip that I can give regarding the selling process is this: don’t try to be a salesperson. I do not consider myself to be a good salesperson, but rather a good marketer. My goal when selling cars is to simply make the cars easy to buy – that’s all.
It’s likely that the person interested in buying your vehicle has chosen to purchase it from a private seller like yourself rather than a dealer because they’re avoiding a high pressure sales process. If you try to be pushy or use cheesy salesperson lines you are likely to put the buyer off. So just be yourself and if the car is priced correctly, you’ll sell it. It’s that simple.
Finalizing the Sale
Once a deal has been made make sure that you receive the cash in hand before signing ownership over to the buyer. Also make sure you are very familiar with your country or state’s regulations on vehicle ownership transfers. Once you have the cash in your hand it’s time to start the process over again. That’s how you snowball your profits into more cash in your pocket!
Final Words from Jeremy
I truly hope you’ve enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. If you’re interested in learning more about car flipping I’ve created a page on my site just for Income School readers. Visit me 3HourFlip.com/incomeschool to receive a free car flipping gift!
Thanks again and good luck flipping cars!