Every car has a lifespan, and sooner or later we have to decide what to do with our used car. Some pass it to another family member, others might sell it online through a listing site, others sell to services like Carvana or Vroom, and the rest typically will sell to a local dealer. Choosing between going dealer vs. private sale is very personal depending on your priorities. Sadly, the current market typically lowballs luxury trade-ins because of their difficultly to sell, making a private sale significantly better in terms of the financials.
All of these options have varying degrees of speed, convenience and sales price, but not everyone wants to go down this road. A lot of people still opt for the private sale route given that it is often much more lucrative for both parties, and selling a car privately in Texas is quite a bit easier than you’d imagine. Even though many articles out there might make selling privately look risky, but it does not need to be if you are prepared.
A simpler way to sell your car is Topmarq, which handles the details for you and facilitates secure escrow payments to keep everyone safe.
Private Car Sales: Texas
The main benefit behind selling an old car yourself is that you get to keep all of the proceeds. In the world of convenient car sales, you always pay a premium for the ease of service, and it can actually really eat into your potential margin. If you’ve looked after your car well, maintained proper records and have your other paperwork in order, there’s absolutely no reason you can’t sell the car yourself.
If you're looking to buy a used car, you can use our checklist to make sure you avoid any issues!
Today’s guide is designed to help you navigate the private car sales path in Texas so that you can sell your vehicle without a hitch. We’re going to start from the point that you have an interested buyer already lined up. If you don't yet, there are a few ways you can list your car using online auctions, or you can use Topmarq and keep control over your final sales price and buyer.
One more document that deserves a little more attention is the vehicle report. This is essentially a complete history of your vehicle that helps to set the buyer’s mind at ease. If the buyer is concerned or skeptical that you have been looking after the car properly in the time you’ve had it, then you can prove them wrong with this record. If you have kept service receipts and other records yourself, then bravo. You can use these directly, but for a real authoritative source, you can get a more official-looking one. One thing you can do, or invite the buyer to do, is to visit the Texas DMV website and perform a Title Check. You could also do that in person at the Texas DMV office. You could also use a third-party or other site like US Vehicle Reports, or FAXVIN, among others.
Based on the history report, you’ll then want to arrange a pre-purchase inspection. When it comes to used car sales, this step can be the real clincher that sets a final deal in motion. Buyers are advised from left, right and center to organize a professional third-party inspection of any car that they intend to buy. The good news is that you neither have to arrange nor pay for the inspection because this is all handled by the buyer. Once the buyer has found a qualified inspector, they will arrange for a place and time for the inspection, to which they need to get your agreement. Once all of that is agreed, you follow the inspection steps as indicated by the buyer and their inspector, and then take note of the report. If the car is in as good order as you say it is, then there’ll be no difficulty at all. If the inspection reveals problems that put off the buyer, then keep a copy of the report and see to them before you find another. Keep in mind that you'll need to get agreement from the buyer to see the report as the shops will often only send it to them. While there are some mobile car inspection shops, we generally don't reccommend them for higher end vehicles. If that's what a buyer chooses, though, it can be more convenient for you as the seller.
If the inspection has gone to plan and the buyer has confirmed they want the car, then there are a number of documents you will need to get started with the process. The first is the current vehicle title, another is the buyer’s application for title (if they don’t have it themselves), a bill of sale, the odometer disclosure form, and the car service history report. Let’s say you have all of these in your possession, here’s what you can do with them even before you meet with the buyer. First, sign and date the back of the title, entering the car’s current odometer reading where it indicates. Use black ink and write neatly. Furthermore, this title is a legal document, so if you make mistakes and try to scratch out answers or use white-out, then it may invalidate it completely. If you’ve previously lost the title of your car, then you can replace it at the DMV by going there and filling out Form VTR-34 Application for a Certified Copy of Title. If you are in possession of the buyer’s title application, then you can help them along by signing that form for them (Form 130-U), making sure to fill in your agreed sales price, too. Once they take possession, the new owner will have to title it themselves, so you’re helping them out for the next stage. Finally, you should also prepare a bill of sale. The bill of sale is an important piece to minimize your liability, so don't let it slip. Click here to download or print a template bill of sale that you can use in Texas. It’s all relatively simple, and will put everything in order for when you’re dealing with the DMV and the county tax collector’s office.
One thing you don’t want to forget about before selling a car privately in Texas is removing the license plates before the new owner takes possession. You can keep your plates and transfer them onto your new vehicle in and when you get one. Another item to remove is the registration sticker that’s up in your window. It may seem stubborn at first --- it’s designed to stay on there good and tight --- but if you apply some force and (carefully) use a razor blade or similarly thin, flat object to pry underneath, it will give way.
The final stage is to complete the transfer process so that the car can finally be transferred to its new owner. This is a critical stage because if you don’t complete it properly, and the new driver gets into trouble, then you can be held liable since the car would technically still be in your name. To complete the transfer, which must be done within 30 days of sale, either accompany the buyer to the county tax office and complete the required paperwork once there. If you are unable to go with the buyer, then fill out a vehicle transfer notification in advance from the Texas DMV. You can find information on that here. You could also help the buyer out by reminding them to have their insurance ready for when they are going to take the car away. Texas law requires the vehicle to be insured from the time of sale, so they’ll need to have theirs completed before the vehicle finally changes hands.
How to Sell a Car Privately in Texas
Some people are put off from conducting a private sale of their car because they just feel like it’s too much paperwork. It can be stressful, and dealing with titles and other legal documents can be somewhat intimidating. Texas doesn’t make things so complex for either buyer or seller, in reality, so with a bit of preparation and knowing where to go, you can get the job done quickly. We advise that prior to selling the vehicle, you look in advance where the nearest DMV is, how to get to the county tax office, and get copies (and duplicates if possible) of any paperwork to fill out so that you’re ready, and have a backup if you fill one in wrongly. Good luck to all sellers!