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Cost of having a rep sell your car.


George Smolinski
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I watch Chasing Classic Cars occasionally because I like seeing the various classics on the show and what they bring at auction. Sometimes Mr. Carini is selling/representing a car or cars for the owner. It seems most cases are for a wife or children who inherited them. I will assume this is somewhat common, especially in the high end auctions since people like him know the auction houses, how to prep the cars, general price range, etc. All this raises my curiosity of what a fee on that would be.

Would anyone hazard a guess as to what the fee would be on such vehicles? Would it be a percentage or a flat fee?

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Charges depend on the value of the car. 10 percent is an average for cars under 200k. Unusual, or difficult to sell cars often have a minimum payment due to the owner, and the dealer/seller keeps the rest. 

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7 hours ago, 39BuickEight said:

Generally 10% is common.  He could charge more simply because of his reputation, but, after meeting him, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t.  

 

 

Wash an detail a 100% correct 1932 Ford Roadster and a CCCA award winning J Duesenberg Roadster, for 10% of the sale price, makes you wonder.

 

 

Bob 

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24 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

 

 

Wash an detail a 100% correct 1932 Ford Roadster and a CCCA award winning J Duesenberg Roadster, for 10% of the sale price, makes you wonder.

 

 

Bob 

Of course the 10% is based on the sale price.  Anything extra, cleaning, repairs, etc is on top of that.

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30 minutes ago, gossp said:

And selling a 5k car is ten times as much work as selling a 50k car. 

 

 

I'd like to have someone put me in charge of selling their $50,000+ vehicle. First question would be why can't they sell it themselves? Zero people skills, zero knowledge of the car, too busy, posting a listing is a challenge? Bob 

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Having worked with a collector car broker for a while and having used the services of a couple of them, I can say that there are some advantages.  We can make fun of a used car salesman but a guy that knows how to close a deal might just close it faster and for more money than you can on your own. If a guy sells a car you want 50k for at 55k and takes a 10% cut, you did just fine. The broker is not emotionally attached to the car and will not have the last minute resistance that kills a deal. The broker is experienced in marketing cars and will know where and how to get the job done. Often times the broker will take possession of the car until sold, getting it out of your hair and eliminating storage issues. The brokers often have relationships with auction houses that can get your car put in a prime time slot that the auction house would not give to an individual with one or two cars to sell. Most important, tire kickers suck and a good broker can weed them out quicker than you can, it is a skill they need to develop to survive. 
 

All that said, and this next point will have different numbers for every broker, the car needs to have enough real world value to make their cut worth their while. A good broker should be able to maximize the cars sales price in a given market, but they are not magicians. 

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I got an unsolicited call from a guy who had a car he wanted to sell for $75,000. From pictures and presentation to the fiduciary end I asked for $800 nonrefundable up front plus 6% of the selling price. Seemed OK until we discovered his wife was on the other line. I wonder if they ever sold it.

Bernie

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I usually sell a car for someone for about $100.00. I don't care about percentages. If it takes me a little more work than the usual photo taking, maybe I will ask for a little more money. I am not a greedy person. Helping folks out is more of a goal than making a ton of money. I guess that shows as I never have enough money to work on my own rides.

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1 hour ago, 1937hd45 said:

 

 

I'd like to have someone put me in charge of selling their $50,000+ vehicle. First question would be why can't they sell it themselves? Zero people skills, zero knowledge of the car, too busy, posting a listing is a challenge? Bob 

 

All of those things. Plus they don't want strangers coming to their house and looking around. They don't want phone calls at all hours. They don't want the E-mails telling them they're stupid and their price is crazy and their car is crap. They don't want to have to answer the same question over and over and over and over. The don't want constant inquiries from photo collectors and low-ballers who want to trade their piece of junk for your good car and then call you foul names when you don't agree with their valuation. And if you haven't tried to sell a car lately, it's more than putting an ad in the local paper and parking it at the end of your driveway if you really want to move it for good money (this is where someone chimes in about how they sold their car from an ad in the local paper). Advertising costs can add up if you really want to cover the market--my services cost about as much as a single 7-day eBay auction or a Hemmings photo ad for most clients, and in exchange they get more than 20 internet venues, ads in several print publications, studio photography, a video with the car starting and running, professional description, and a full-time staff to manage repairs/service, phone calls and E-mails, logistics, financing, and trade-ins, plus a showroom where people can browse cars--a lot of people come in to buy one car and leave with something else instead. Drop your car off, a few weeks later cash a check without ever having to deal with a tire-kicker or lowball artist or scumbag prowling around your home.

 

If you enjoy all that nonsense, well, there's your answer. But to a lot of people, the lack of hassles is worth a few bucks, particularly the guys with expensive cars who understand that their time is better spent making money than trying to sell a car. It's the same reason I hire a roofer when my house needs a new roof--I can do it myself for less money, but it'll take me weeks when I could be spending my time making more money than it costs to have someone else do it. Plus it's a lot of work. It's about the net, not the gross.

 

Money is but one way to measure "value." I've long believed that time is far more precious than cramming every possible dollar I can into my pocket and if I can buy time at a reasonable price, I do it. 

 

PS: You're invited to come answer my phone for a week and see if the job is still what you think it is.

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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A reputable dealer is a godsend in selling a car.   The first thing he/she is going to do is beat the owner with a stick over what they think the car is worth.   Every seller  (I mean EVERY seller) thinks their car is worth 30 to 50% more than it will actually sell for.    Once a reasonable sales price has been agreed to,   then cleaning, inspecting,  documenting,  etc,  can happen.    Most people can't accurately describe their own car.

 

The fees are totally different and negotiable by dealer and probably the car and probably the owner too.   Meaning,  the dealer will do the math on selling a certain car for a certain owner at at certain price which could be completely different if you change any of those variables.

 

Also,  I know some dealers charge a storage fee after 30 days - although I think that is when the seller picked the asking price.  

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We are at roughly 7.5%-8%ish via math via significantcars.com and my experience is that via the "phone book" and ... that you make more on the sale side than if you tried sale yourself, so it covers the commission + also puts more money back into your hand via sale price = a "win-win" as they say.   Also, getting help in a sale eliminates a whole lot of aggravation.  Why not 10% - Shawn set it up that you keep your car in your garage during process, unless there is some reason it needs to go to Indianapolis or ... - which he can handle too as it often happens via such as lost storage during an estate (house gets sold, someone needs to go into a care facility, and/or ...).

 

By the way, this week we did not break the record, but we came close - about 50 minutes from notifying database to sale occurring; and they are heading for the Concours circuit with a fabulous - exotic little 1930's toy.  

I believe Shawn's record is for a V-12 Auburn Boattail - it not only set a sale time record (like 5 minutes), though also set a highest dollar paid record for an Auburn at the time. 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

and in exchange they get more than 20 internet venues, ads in several print publications, studio photography,

Yours is probably the best photography I've seen in any car ads. Except Smokey Mountain Traders has pretty ladies in their car photos.

I think I'd rather look at the cars though. Won't get in any trouble doing that either.

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The best way to offer a car for sale has always been evolving from the early days of the hobby..........some people would never buy an antique car from a dealer.......others I know prefer to buy exclusively from them. Each dealer seems to have their own formula, and what works well for them. How I sell a car has changed over the years......and I try to do my own thing that works well for me........my particular approach wouldn’t work for 95 percent of the cars..........with demographics of buyers and sellers;  and supply of available cars in MOST categories increasing, marketplace considerations will drastically alter the way cars are bought and sold over the next twenty years. I think the only safe prediction is there will be fewer auctions...........yup, the golden era of the exclusive automotive auction house is now past..........there will be a few that continue to operate, but many will go the way of the dinosaurs. 

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2 hours ago, John_Mereness said:

significantcars.com...

I believe Shawn's record is for a V-12 Auburn Boattail - it not only set a sale time record (like 5 minutes)... 

 

On the other hand, that site has had some

cars for sale for more than a year.  Maybe two.

I see their 1926 Stutz roadster is newly marked sold.

When I was looking for a pre-war car, I looked at a 1927

Stutz that looked almost the same, so their 1926 has stuck

in my memory.  

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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30 minutes ago, edinmass said:

The best way to offer a car for sale has always been evolving from the early days of the hobby..........some people would never buy an antique car from a dealer.......others I know prefer to buy exclusively from them. Each dealer seems to have their own formula, and what works well for them. How I sell a car has changed over the years......and I try to do my own thing that works well for me........my particular approach wouldn’t work for 95 percent of the cars..........with demographics of buyers and sellers;  and supply of available cars in MOST categories increasing, marketplace considerations will drastically alter the way cars are bought and sold over the next twenty years. I think the only safe prediction is there will be fewer auctions...........yup, the golden era of the exclusive automotive auction house is now past..........there will be a few that continue to operate, but many will go the way of the dinosaurs. 

 

I must be rubbing off on you as this is a pretty cogent set of sentences. 

 

1.  Things are changing - true.

 

2.  Old timers would never buy a car from a dealer - mostly true.

 

3.  Availability of cars increasing - true.

 

4.  Auction saturation achieved - true.

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20 hours ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

On the other hand, that site has had some

cars for sale for more than a year.  Maybe two.

Not everything is as it seems, though you are correct to some degree - some people want/need an immediate sell, some are waiting for top dollar, and ....  

I think the record on the top end time is pushing 5 years - they wanted top dollar to the penny, the car's price was adjusted upwards each year, and when it sold it would have exceeded the public auction price for the marque by 100K  plus - and next stop was the lawn at Pebble Beach Concours d"Elegance (and it won it's class too). 

Plus, I would say a good 1/3 of cars sold are never on the site - largely because many owners do not want them to trade hands where other people can see (which is often the case with  "certain" collectors that are known for "not" selling anything), but other reasons too.

 

I think the strategy side is something few people are aware of in car antique car sales whether dealer or via action company - it tends to be a more sophisticated version of high end home sales. 

 

By the way, auctions have become incredibly selective (and plenty of strategy behind such too), but on the flip side of the coin is at times (for unfortunately various reasons) too many of same/similar things have been put up at any one time and as a result the seller's/marque have received no favors. 

 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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21 hours ago, alsancle said:

 

I must be rubbing off on you as this is a pretty cogent set of sentences. 

 

1.  Things are changing - true.

 

2.  Old timers would never buy a car from a dealer - mostly true.

 

3.  Availability of cars increasing - true.

 

4.  Auction saturation achieved - true.

Everything in sales market I would say is "changing" - some for better and some for worse, but nevertheless changing and will continue to change too. 

Edited by John_Mereness (see edit history)
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The record for a dealer selling a car, in my experience, happened to me.

 

I had a nice 56 Tbird, tried for two months to sell it.  Drive it to a dealer friend of mine, in five minutes I sell it to him, he gives me a check, his assistant drives me home.

 

Found out the next day, a woman had seen me drive on the lot, as I was leaving she was buying the car, the dealer made 5K with about 10 minutes of work.

 

oh well, in the end we were all happy.....

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I once took a boat on consignment that had interest before the seller left the lot.

He did leave just as a second buyer happened in and the bidding began.

Don't remember the time spent but it was a good day.

Edited by JACK M (see edit history)
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4 minutes ago, JACK M said:

I once took a boat on consignment that had interest before the seller left the lot.

He did leave just as a second buyer happened in and the bidding began.

Don't remember the time spent but it was a good day.

I deal a lot with "waiting lists" and it is pretty cool to help someone with a passion with X car on the brain and sitting on a waiting list matched to someone who has decided to let go !

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Jack Passey's book deals with a lot of this business but in reverse. Surely there must be some folks out there somewhere today that instead of working for a seller are actively searching and working on commission for a buyer? In several of his stories he explains how he gets the seller to agree to cover half of his commission so that he can get the buyer (normally Otis Chandler) to agree to the sale price. Pretty entertaining read if you can get your hands on a copy.

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On 3/1/2020 at 9:39 AM, 1937hd45 said:

 

 

I'd like to have someone put me in charge of selling their $50,000+ vehicle. First question would be why can't they sell it themselves? Zero people skills, zero knowledge of the car, too busy, posting a listing is a challenge? Bob 

 

Some sellers want a broker to sell their car because they know what is wrong with the car. They want to enjoy some plausible deniability. 

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15 minutes ago, Brass is Best said:

 

Some sellers want a broker to sell their car because they know what is wrong with the car. They want to enjoy some plausible deniability. 


We have been on the bad end of that. In all fairness, the broker offered to make it right as soon as issues were detected.  We Liked the car and didn’t want to send it back. We should have. 

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I will help others sell vehicles on occasion.

 

I have been on most car forums since 2008.

 

I document my travels on Facebook and Instagram with images and video.

 

Occasionally I run across car collections or individual vehicles for sale that I will document and pass along.

 

Last Saturday my friend in Long Beach, CA sold a VW Bug I listed for him on the Samba.

 

I don’t charge anything.

 

I believe in turning the wheel.

 

When you help others - you help yourself.

 

 

Jim

Edited by Trulyvintage (see edit history)
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On 3/1/2020 at 10:27 AM, gossp said:

Having worked with a collector car broker for a while and having used the services of a couple of them, I can say that there are some advantages.  We can make fun of a used car salesman but a guy that knows how to close a deal might just close it faster and for more money than you can on your own. If a guy sells a car you want 50k for at 55k and takes a 10% cut, you did just fine. The broker is not emotionally attached to the car and will not have the last minute resistance that kills a deal. The broker is experienced in marketing cars and will know where and how to get the job done. Often times the broker will take possession of the car until sold, getting it out of your hair and eliminating storage issues. The brokers often have relationships with auction houses that can get your car put in a prime time slot that the auction house would not give to an individual with one or two cars to sell. Most important, tire kickers suck and a good broker can weed them out quicker than you can, it is a skill they need to develop to survive. 
 

All that said, and this next point will have different numbers for every broker, the car needs to have enough real world value to make their cut worth their while. A good broker should be able to maximize the cars sales price in a given market, but they are not magicians. 

 

A good guy or a woman.  Yes to all of the things said in this answer.  A good broker performs a service (and I am including dealers like Matt Harwood in this response because a good dealer is the same).  We have spent years day in and day out selling and buying cars for collectors  and enthusiasts.  While the seller was building their business we were building ours so if I break my leg I am not going to set it myself.  I'll go to an orthopedic surgeon.  And when they sell a car they'll come to me.  Everyone has an expertise that someone else can gain from.  As for the 10% - I can't speak for other broker's but you do what you have to do to close the deal and make sure the buyer and seller are both happy (repeat business and referrals in mind).  10% is not a guarantee.  It's more like a suggestion:)

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On 3/2/2020 at 5:31 PM, Brass is Best said:

 

Some sellers want a broker to sell their car because they know what is wrong with the car. They want to enjoy some plausible deniability. 

 

This suggests that a broker will act in an  untrustworthy way.  A good broker asses a car and bases the value of the car on, among other things, condition, history and originality.  In fifteen years I have never had a buyer come back to me to tell me he bought a car that was misrepresented.   Sometimes a seller honestly doesn't know about his own car.  That's not a crime.  It's a crime if he sells it  knowing full well it has a story he's not telling.  There are bad brokers out there.   Ask for references.

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15 minutes ago, supercargirl said:

 

A good guy or a woman.  Yes to all of the things said in this answer.  A good broker performs a service (and I am including dealers like Matt Harwood in this response because a good dealer is the same).  We have spent years day in and day out selling and buying cars for collectors  and enthusiasts.  While the seller was building their business we were building ours so if I break my leg I am not going to set it myself.  I'll go to an orthopedic surgeon.  And when they sell a car they'll come to me.  Everyone has an expertise that someone else can gain from.  As for the 10% - I can't speak for other broker's but you do what you have to do to close the deal and make sure the buyer and seller are both happy (repeat business and referrals in mind).  10% is not a guarantee.  It's more like a suggestion:)


I apologize for my archaic use of gender specific pronouns. 

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While sales and account management has been part of what my day job is for a long time, I really prefer to let broker deal with the 15 time wasters to get to a couple prospects and ultimately a buyer. 

 

One moderately priced car we sold went overseas, I am sure I could figure it out but let my pal Tom Laferriere (whose Packard buyer network is 100x deeper than mine) take care of sale and all the logistics.  Get email, agree on price, sign a couple things.  Tom gets fair fee, Car gone.  Get check .  All good!

 

Brokers I think work harder than most reallize.  We were at dinner with Tom once, phone goes off 3 times, people wanting to talk cars.  Food gets cold... You have to entertain these calls on some level..  I was reminded of the value add when I sold T speedster last year.  Most brokers don't get too excited about project cars, so i just sold it.  Actually second attempt was a charm, sold in 24 hours, but first time was the usual string of jokers, dreamers, pen pals, picture collectors and chislers.  

 

A worthwhile and appreciated service for some of us even with more modest cars.  I think the better stuff is a little different with waiting lists and matchmaking a bigger part of it.  All the more reason the broker is your friend, more so than the auction house imho.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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One final thought on this from a customer perspective.  We are lucky here to know a few forum regulars who I think are very reputable dealers, brokers (same thing?).  I would be pretty comfortable dealing with these folks, certainly Tom, Matt, Brassisbest, Shawn Miller/John, Supercargirl, and Guy, Motoring Icons seem trustworthy.  If you feel the same I would suggest that is also a value add.  

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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57 minutes ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

Actually second attempt was a charm, sold in 24 hours, but first time was the usual string of jokers, dreamers, pen pals, picture collectors and chislers.  

 

 

Just came online to finish working and shut down. That was the big smile of the day.

 

So you did something the second time that made them not have to think hard.

 

 

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Actually Bernie I can only credit timing and dumb luck.  Placed FB ad on Good Friday to kill time waiting for my wife who was doing something.  Same pics, price.  Car was gone the next morning.  I had a couple real back ups surface later that day (Don Lang, Lang Model T offered my asking via email, I know that was rock solid but in fairness, he was caller 2, Dave Currier the T body maker up in ME already had plans to come down.  Fair is fair.  Oh, and before I could get ad down a couple clowns got to me as well... 😉 

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I have sold literally hundreds of cars over the last 50 some years, all private person to person sales. In the pre-internet era I kind of enjoyed it, the park-it-in-front-of-the-house and free local trader paper ad mentioned above always did the trick and in my suburban life no worries about theft or mugging. Today it is no fun at all. I am selling a car right now (1963 Oldsmobile Starfire if anyone is interested!) and have featured it in every applicable forum, Facebook group, etc. and just started it on Hemmings. I can't stand the Craigslist process and don't want the problems an Ebay listing can entail. I don't want people at my house so I have to use a public (hopefully safe) meeting place to show the car. At my age I don't have the patience for all the BS so maybe using a broker makes sense after all. Now if only Matt Harwood's lot was in easy driving distance... 

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I had a friend (now deceased) who married a lady with some money.  Over the years they had a few children and he parlayed her money into 30+ cars and 25-20 properties, some commercial and some residential.  I know he bought/one or two cars in person but most were through an agent as was ALL of his property dealings.  I do not think anyone in town knew he owned what they were renting.  He would drive or walk around town and talk to most of his tenants just as a neighbour.  Two of his tenants actually bought cars from his agent and then showed them off to him as they knew hi liked cars.  His philosophy was to be removed from face to face in business dealings.  He made money, his agents made money and he had no hassles or arguments with buyers, sellers or tennants.  I had several relatives who were renting from him and said what a great guy he was as a neighbour and had no idea he was their landlord.  Exactly how he wanted it.

Personally I bought one car privately and sold one car twice privately (all to friends) and would do neither ever again.  Let someone else make a living and have all the headaches.

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