If you love cars and see them as a potential way to make money, car flipping for a profit can be fun. Car flipping is the art of buying used vehicles at low prices and selling them quickly for a profit.
To be a successful auto flipper, you need to know where to find cars, what to look for in each vehicle, how to get deals, and how to be a savvy salesman.
Cars are definitely something special. Almost every family is dependent on one and they draw from people’s emotions and create desires. They are expensive too. For these reasons, car flipping is extremely popular and well worth it knowing what you are doing.
In this article, we are going to discuss the most important facts you need to know about flipping cars and how flipping your car for a profit can be rewarding, easy and fun.
- What is Car Flipping?
- What are the benefits of car flipping?
- How to flip cars without a dealer license
- # 1. Understand the local used car market
- #2. Know where Car flippers find cars
- # 3. Setting the budget for flipping your car
- # 4. Know how to value a car
- # 5. Find out how long the car has been sitting
- #6. Inspect Car’s Exterior and Interior
- # 7. Check under the hood
- # 8. Check the vehicle history
- # 9. Take a test drive
- #10. Know how to Make Offers
- # 11. Get ready to flip the car
- # 12. Pricing and selling your car
- Editor’s Recommendation
What is Car Flipping?
Just like in real estate flipping, car flipping is buying cars at a low price and selling such vehicles at a higher price. A car flipper identifies vehicles at reasonable prices that, after overhaul and marketing to a larger market, can be sold at a higher price.
What are the benefits of car flipping?
The demand for used cars is currently increasing in all price ranges. With internet sales, you can open up a worldwide market. Car lovers who work as car flipper have so much fun doing that and make money, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to get started.
It’s up to you whether you want to sell cars part-time or full-time. Vendors include college students flipping cars over for a sidehustle and those who are so good at it that they start flipping cars for a living.
Another benefit is that you can drive a car you like for a while before you sell it. You will get back your cash investment when you sell the car.
How to flip cars without a dealer license
Before rushing to an auto auction or contacting a private seller on Craigslist, there are a few things you need to know about how to flip cars.
First, find out about the laws in your state regarding car sales. States have different limits on the number of cars you can own or sell without needing a dealer license.
Once you know how many cars your state allows, you may want to invest in a dealership license or make arrangements to pay a local licensed auto dealer for your records.
Working with a new or used car dealer may cost you a few hundred dollars, but it can help you make several thousands of extra cash year-round. It could also help get the paperwork done correctly and it could even free up your time.
# 1. Understand the local used car market
Your goals as a good car flipper are to find a good car at a low price, make sure you can fix it quickly and safely, and sell it for a higher price quickly. A high profit margin gives you funds to invest in your next vehicle or to save or spend as you see fit.
In general, if you are flipping over cars at a profit, you should aim for low-mileage vehicles made by well-known automakers such as Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, and Toyota.
There is always a high demand for efficient sedans, compact SUVs and inexpensive hatchbacks.
Smart car flippers take climate and terrain into account when buying and selling cars. Convertibles and sunroof cars are popular in warm, sunny climates. All-wheel drive vehicles are big sellers in areas with lots of snow or hilly conditions.
#2. Know where Car flippers find cars
If you don’t have a dealer license, public auctions are a good place to find cars without spending a lot of money. Public auction vehicles include lender repossessions, cars that the government has confiscated for tax back payments, real estate liens or forfeiture, and abandoned vehicles.
Craigslist is another source of great deals, especially if you prefer to negotiate with a private seller rather than bidding on public auctions. The free classifieds feature lots of cars ready to flip as well as motivated sellers.
Another plus is that you don’t have to pay anyone a percentage of the sale price. On the other hand, many scammers use Craigslist. You need to be knowledgeable and vigilant when looking for a good car or selling a vehicle on the job site.
A similar option to Craigslist – but one that is more regulated – is eBay Motors. It offers a wide variety of vehicles, but charges high fees for successful listings, and many consumers have complained that it is often unable to adequately monitor dodgy or fraudulent sellers.
Other sources of car flipping include ads in traditional newspaper sections, “For Sale” ads in town, and cars with “For Sale” signs parked in the neighborhood.
Just don’t expect lower prices from your local dealer. Their prices have hefty profit margins built in no matter what kind of offer they are offering you.
# 3. Setting the budget for flipping your car
When determining the budget for your first auto-flip, experienced people will suggest a starting amount of $1,500. That gives you enough to buy a decent car at an auction with moderate to high miles, while also leaving room to make a profit of $500 to $800.
The same experts say you should set a top-end limit of $5,000. They know the more money you spend, the fewer money buyers you can find when you sell the car.
Allow cash to make your purchase. When you buy at auctions, credit cards may be accepted, but you don’t want to carry credit card interest on your profit margin.
Having extra cash on hand for your first car flip is a good idea. A good rule of thumb is half of your shopping budget.
# 4. Know how to value a car
If you are turning over cars for profit, you need to know how to rate a car. There’s still a lot of research to do before entering car auctions or bidding on cars that you see on Craigslist or in ads.
Sites like KBB.com and Edmunds.com not only offer price guides, but also owner lists of various makes, models, years and trims for popular cars. This information will help you find cars that are undervalued and can generate high profit margins.
Look for cars that are in demand and below the market price. Avoid cars with aftermarket features like fancy spoilers or spoilt exhausts. They are difficult to sell in general markets and do not bring great returns.
You don’t want to be stuck with a slow-selling car that is selling for a lower price than you want, or worse, one that is not selling at all.
# 5. Find out how long the car has been sitting
Asking questions about the car will provide information about its value and how much investment it might take. Car flippers know that if a car has not been driven in a long time, things can break once it’s running again, or it may require significant maintenance before being sold again.
You should keep this information in mind when considering an older, low-mileage car. This could mean that the car needs additional work.
#6. Inspect Car’s Exterior and Interior
Whether you are at auction or viewing the car from a private owner, you need to check the exterior and interior of the car.
The main thing to look out for on the outside is the signs of rust. Check the wheel arches, dents, dents in the roof rails and the lower fenders of the vehicle. Repairing rust can be time consuming and costly.
Also, pay attention to how clean the vehicle is. Wet a tissue or your finger with water and run it on the side of the car. If dirt comes off easily, a good wash will improve the look of the vehicle.
When inspecting the vehicle interior, look for defects such as damaged upholstery, stained or faded floors, and poor instrumentation and lighting. If you can get in or fold the windows, run the sniff test for bad smells, including smoke, old food, and pet odors.
Look out for hanging deodorants, sprays, or other measures to mask odors. Neutralizing bad smells may not be worth your extra cost if this is to be a flip on the low end.
# 7. Check under the hood
One key to a flip car’s value is how it looks under the hood. Car flipping experts know that when a car has a dirty engine bay it is likely to require costly attention that will affect profit margins.
For example, contaminated oil can be repaired with an oil change, but evidence of an engine oil leak can mean expensive repairs and a deal breaker.
Check the belts with the engine off. Worn or frayed belts need to be replaced, which can cost you hundreds of dollars. No water should come out of the radiator and the water should be at a normal temperature.
Overheating or a leaking radiator means the vehicle needs to be fixed, which means less profit for you. Check the hoses. Replacing a radiator hose can cost $200 or more.
# 8. Check the vehicle history
Once you’ve identified a car that interests you and its price is in your target range, check the vehicle’s history before taking a test drive.
Use the 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and do a verification with two free websites, SaferCar.gov and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The first is sponsored by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Find out if the car has been repaired as part of a safety recall in the past 15 years.
The second website will tell you if the current owner legally purchased the car and provide up-to-date information on car theft.
It is also advisable to use the VIN and purchase a Carfax or AutoCheck vehicle history report. These reports will tell you if any accidents have occurred and if the title or ownership has changed.
# 9. Take a test drive
When testing a vehicle, especially before an auction, pay particular attention to how the transmission works. If the car has an automatic transmission and there is a delay of more than two seconds between shifting and engaging, that’s a bad sign. It is likely that the vehicle will soon need a new or converted transmission.
Checking the brakes is also vital for your test drive. Get up to a good speed on a clear, dry road, let your passengers know that you will suddenly stop. Step hard on the brakes.
The car should stop quickly, smoothly, and in a straight line. If the car’s stroke is crooked or shaky, you’ve worn brakes that need replacing. While it might not ruin the deal, it is another potential bite out of your profit margin.
#10. Know how to Make Offers
Whether you are in an auction or facing a private party seller, stay relaxed and remain emotionless. At auctions, make sure that you know the bidding rules in a timely manner and are not involved in a bidding war that will take you over your budget.
If you miss a car, don’t be stressed because there’s always another one waiting. When dealing with private sellers ask them why they are selling.
The answer can give you some insight into how low you can go with your offer. Make a cash offer below the asking price and don’t be afraid to walk away if it isn’t a cheap price for you.
# 11. Get ready to flip the car
Once you have the vehicle and track, it’s time to prepare the car for flipping. Get full diagnostic checks of the vehicle systems and have repairs done by reputable mechanics.
You never want to sell an unsafe car to someone.
However, skip repairs that are not a safety issue and do not add to the vehicle’s resale value. Thoroughly clean the car inside and out. Depending on the make, model, condition, and budget, you may want to have it professionally detailed. It’s often surprising how much better a detailed vehicle will look.
When it’s ready, your next steps will be pricing, listing, and selling your car.
# 12. Pricing and selling your car
Use the KBB and Edmunds websites above to set a fair list price and rock bottom dollar number that is as low as you want.
Take into account the honest condition of the car and use your zip code for values. Advertise in the places that are most likely to reach your target market.
Show the vehicle in a safe place and avoid driving alone. Remember, you don’t necessarily want to sell the vehicle. So, wait before you hit rock bottom. Accept cash only and give the buyer a detailed sales contract and receipt with the free and unique title.
Making money from flipping cars can be fun and rewarding. With thorough research, patience, and a positive attitude, you can create a new and flexible source of income that will put extra cash in your pocket and buyers into safe, affordable vehicles.
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