Should I sell my van privately or to a business?

Selling your van either to a business like a dealership or online buyer or through a private channel will change the steps you take dramatically, and each comes with their own pros and cons that should be considered before you make the decision.

We break down the differences between both, along with the various pitfalls that could affect your success along the way. We also have a van selling guidance section if you’re seeking general advice about selling your van that isn’t found here.

Money vs time

Money is pretty much the main reason why anyone sells their van, so it’s important to know how selling privately or to a used van business will affect your returns.

Simply, you stand to gain more money for your van if you sell privately, providing you can find the right buyer and are willing to put in the legwork. Online used van buyers will always offer you the best deal they can, as there is a great deal of competition in the marketplace, but you’ll nearly always get a better price going private. This is because businesses who buy your van will be doing so with the intent to sell it at a later point, which means that they need to adjust margins to increase their chances of making a profit.

Unfortunately, the higher payout of a private sale does come with some downsides.

Selling privately will be a long process with more direct involvement required, meaning you’ll need to put the time in to make the money. Businesses, either locally or online, will handle most of the legwork for you if you choose to sell, which cuts down the time you’ll spend massively and result in a quicker sale.

With that in mind, we’ll break down some of the things you’ll need to handle when selling privately and the risks they carry.

The Risks Involved

Selling your van privately places more demand on you to handle the process, which invariably increases the risk involved when selling your van. There are a number of pitfalls you could fall foul to if you’re not careful, so it’s best to be aware of what is required before diving into a private sale; everything from advertising and communication to legal paperwork will need to be handled by you, so keep this in mind at all times.

Initially, you’ll have to handle all advertising and its cost yourself, which will include taking photos, writing about the vehicle and handling any enquiries from potential buyers. You’ll want to advertise in as many locations as possible to increase your chances of finding a buyer, but make sure to weigh up the costs that come with it.

In comparison, you can simply input your vehicle registration into a van valuation tool such as Jamjar’s, along with some basic information about your vehicle, and receive quotes from a range of online buying businesses. It’s a quick and simple process, and you can be in touch with a business that is looking to buy your van the same day.

You’ll also need to be careful of potential fraudsters when selling privately. Make sure you collect details such as name, telephone number and address when making appointments and check to ensure they are who they claim to be. Furthermore, be sure to arrange meetings in appropriate locations and note down their vehicle’s registration upon arrival – the more you protect yourself, the better.

A few other ways to protect yourself when selling your van privately are:

  • Do not hand off the keys to the vehicle until you’re in the van or allow them to test drive without the correct insurance
  • Do not allow them to make copies or take photos of any legal documents pertaining to the vehicle
  • Ensure that all funds paid have cleared before completing a sale and handing over the keys

Condition of the van

If you’re selling a relatively new van that you’ve kept in good condition you won’t have to worry about this all that much. Generally, the worse the condition of the vehicle, the harder you’ll realise it is to sell for a sum you’ll be happy with.

If selling privately, you’ll still be putting in the same time effort either way, so it’s important to be candid about how much you think you can earn for your van. A buyer who is making an offer on a van of poor condition will no doubt have the capacity to fix and improve it, recouping their time investment with a bigger profit later.

You might even find that a used van buyer is willing to offer more for a van that can be salvaged than a private buyer is, as they’re confident they can still sell it and make a profit. While some private buyers might have the capability, many won’t and are just looking for a van to be used right away.

Be informed

You can get a good idea of how long it might take to sell your van by simply looking at other listings of similar vehicles. See how long they’ve been advertised for and at what price, whether there has been any interest and if it’s been sold successfully yet.

All these factors can help to give you an idea of the timeframe for your van selling through private channels. Additionally, use Jamjar and get a quote from trusted online used van buyers looking to buy your van today – knowing the value of your van is a handy piece of info, whether you sell privately or to a commercial buyer in the long run.