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Flip Cars and Make a Profit on Craigslist Cars

by craigscars

Is it possible to make money using the Craigslist Cars website? The answer is a definite “yes”. However, one should know what to look for, and how to utilize this free site in order to get the maximum profit for their used vehicle.

Here’s how to flip cars on Craigslist. First of all, if you don’t know what flipping cars means, it means that you are selling a car for a higher price than you bought it (think car dealer). Does this actually work? Trust me, I’ve done this before and made a $1500 profit from selling my used vehicle on Craigslist Autos. First, if you live in a small city, there’s a high chance that this may not work for you as your used car selection will be limited. The larger the city, the more opportunities you will have to pick an “under-valued” vehicle. So here’s the first step:

1. Pick an Under-Valued Vehicle

Just like the stock market, the slogan is “buy low and sell high”. During this stage, we are looking for vehicles that are under-valued, which means the vehicle is being sold lower than its Blue Book value. How does one search for under-valued vehicles? The first step is to create a search query for “desperate seller” results. Desperate sellers are people who need to sell their used car in a hurry. Usually these people are:

• International students leaving the country
• Sellers that are moving and leaving the state
• People strapped for cash
• People who have lost their jobs

These are just a few “desperate sellers” that are willing to sell their vehicle at a fraction of the market value. Think about where you live and which type of “desperate seller” lives in your area. If there’s a large college community, then you may want to target your keyword search around college students. If there’s high unemployment in your city, then you might want to type in something along the lines of “need cash now” into the search query. Remember, there are people that are desperately wanting to sell their vehicles (or don’t care how much cash they can squeeze from the sale) — you just have to put in the effort to search for them. My philosophy is to teach by example, so let’s do a walk-through of finding desperate sellers. I live in Seattle and Seattle has a lot of universities and colleges, so I want to focus my attention on this fact. In the search query I will type in — (college student|international student) — all of these search terms are based around someone wanting to sell their vehicle immediately, this is probably my best chance of finding an undervalued vehicle. College students typically sell their vehicles once they graduate, drop-out, move to another state, or can’t afford to pay tuition. This is a good starting point for my search. Make sure to click “By-Owner”, or you will be getting results from dealers as well…and this is a losing situation for you.

These are all the listings that have “college student or “international student” within the post.  Take note of my query.

Here is a link to my query (it’s always updating)


I clicked on the Subaru ad.  Notice that the post says that the car is in “excellent” condition and that they are a college student and cannot afford the car anymore.  This is a great indication that the seller is desperate to get rid of their vehicle.  You already have leverage and showing them cold hard cash is a great way to purchase the vehicle for a low price.

2. Find the Market-Value of the Car

The easiest way to find the market value of the car is by going to Kelly Blue Book and inputting all the information into their easy to use valuation system.  Here’s the value of the Subaru based on KBB.  Notice that the “Good Condition” value is higher than what the student is selling their car for.


Here’s a picture of the value of the Subaru based on KBB estimates.  The student is selling their car for lower than the KBB value — so far so good.

3.  Negotiate with the Seller

Remember that cash is a great motivator when bargaining with the seller.  Craigslist sellers are great because they do not have the bargaining prowess that used car dealers have.  This means they are prone to break or give-in to the price you are wanting to buy the car for.  So how should one negotiate with the seller?  The first approach is to low-ball them and offer cash.  Text them a message that says, “I want to buy your car today for $4,000 CASH, please respond quickly.”  This message will put a sense of urgency in the seller because of the words, “today” and “cash”.  If they are really desperate to sell the car, then it’s a done deal.  Actually someone tried to do this to me and I was about to say “yes”.  The reason why this works is because the seller is always having that though of, “what if nobody will buy my car?”.  They will think that’s the best offer they can get and will “bite” on your offer.  However, some sellers will want to wait and see what other offers are available to them.

This is obvious, but the lower you can purchase the car, the higher the profit you will enjoy.  Remember, that the Subaru in our example is valued at $8,000+ private party sale  on Blue Book.  This a potential $4000 profit for you! That’s a one month salary with a few days work.  If the seller does not bite on the first offer, then you can meet with the seller and talk prices.  Remember to test drive the vehicle and get it checked out by a mechanic.  Oh, sometimes you can save money by getting the car checked out with a mechanic.  Mechanics are good at finding problems with vehicles (because they want your money).  This means that they will nit-pick every problem with the car, which means you will have more negotiating leverage with the seller.  Use the mechanics repair estimates as another negotiating factor.

4. Urgency is Key

If everything goes to plan, you will have purchased a vehicle on Craigslist Cars For Sale for a fraction of the price of the market value.  Make sure to fill out all the documentation the same day and to transfer the title as fast as possible (this avoid seller’s remorse).

5.  Add Value to the Car and Valuing the Vehicle

Now it’s your turn to be the seller.  After the title has transferred, you can sell the vehicle on Craigslist Used Cars.  In order to get the most out of your vehicle, you might have to fix some minor mechanical problems, remove cosmetic damage and perform routine maintenance.  All of these tasks will add-value to the vehicle.  However, if the car is fine, GREAT — then you don’t have to spend anymore money to make money.  Remember, you already have the mechanics repair estimates so you can also use this as a negotiating factor.  How should one value the car?  Simply take the Blue Book value of vehicle and use that as a negotiating point.  You may not get a $4000 profit, but you will get a PROFIT.

6. Write a Great Craigslist Cars for Sale Post

Remember that buyers are very visual and it will only take a few seconds to decide whether or not they like (or dislike) your vehicle.  The most important this is ADD LOTS OF PICTURES.  Take pictures of everything! The more pictures you have, the less questions they’ll ask.  Make sure to include the basics including: mileage, color, year, date, model, etc.  Do not talk about car blemishes or mechanical problems…it’s up to the buyer to figure these things out.

7. Negotiations

Take calls, take e-mails, let the people come to you! Most importantly, if they are low-balling you, don’t take the offer.  The whole point is to make a profit.  You’ve done your job, the easiest part is closing the deal and swimming in your pool of hard earned cash.

If you follow these steps, you will definitely earn money on Craigslist Automobiles.  If I can earn a $1500 profit selling a used 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer, then you can do the same too!

Also, for those who are confused about the search query portion of this post, please click on the Youtube video on how to find desperate sellers on Craigslist Used Cars.

Please like or share this post, if you’ve found it useful! Please share any useful car flipping tips in the comment section below.

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