Your A-to-Z Guide to Selling a Car In Texas
Texas is home to over 14 million registered vehicles. With almost as many private owners, it should come as no surprise that Texas has a thriving used car market throughout the state.
Whether you’ve outgrown your ride, need some extra cash, or you’re simply ready for an upgrade, selling your car might seem like an attractive proposition. After all, you’ll often get more out of it than when trading in. So why not sell it?
Selling your car in Texas can be a rewarding experience. But it’s also one that can be a bit complicated for first-time sellers. Texas has certain requirements, rules and regulations that must be followed when selling a car.
In this guide, we’ll take you step by step through these requirements so you don’t miss a beat. With a little planning, you’ll be well on your way to selling your car in Texas.
Let’s get started…
Step 1: Preparation and Title
Before you list your car for sale, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get top dollar. First, take your car in for a full-service wash. If it’s in the budget, consider paying for detailing. At the bare minimum, get yourself a wax kit and clean the exterior yourself.
As for the interior, many gas stations have high-powered vacuums to handle the seat fabric, while a good wipe down of the dash, windows, steering wheel and console can really bring out the best in your ride.
Top this off with an air freshener or two and you’re good to go. You’d be surprised at how much a little shine can add to the final price tag. Not to mention the pictures will attract more buyers, giving you better options and potentially higher offers.
TIP: This is also a good time to locate your title
Step 2: How to Price Your Car for Sale In Texas
Texans can be staunch negotiators, so you’d be well-advised to do your homework and price your vehicle fairly and accurately. Kelly Blue Book is generally the gold standard in pricing used cars, but looking at classified and recently sold cars online in your area can give you a great idea of what the local market is willing to pay.
Step 3: Marketing
This isn’t “Field of Dreams”. And the “if you build it they will come” mantra doesn’t apply. If you expect to get offers on your car, you’ll need to make it known that it’s for sale.
Start by parking the vehicle where it’ll get noticed by those passing by. Ensure you have large signage indicating that it’s for sale, as well as any other relevant info such as price and a contact number.
Next, hit the free online classifieds. Facebook marketplace, local forums, local social networks or groups, you name it. Lastly, paid ads in Autotrader or your local paper might be worth a shot if you aren’t getting attention.
Step 4: Offers and Inspection
When you receive an offer from an interested party, it’s not uncommon that they would want to conduct a ‘pre-purchase’ inspection (either by themselves or a mechanic they trust). Both you and the buyer will agree on a time and a place for this to occur.
TIP: If any issues are found, documenting them in writing, signed by both parties, can prevent any liability issues from occurring down the road.
Step 5: Signing the Title
Presuming you have a buyer in hand with an acceptable offer, the next step is to begin the process of transferring ownership of the vehicle to the new buyer.
TIP: Always take precautions to ensure you get paid. This can take the form of an escrow account, a ‘half upfront, half on completion’ deal, or a transaction for cash at, say a police station parking lot.
To initiate the transfer, you’ll need a few bits of information. Namely, your vehicle’s odometer reading and VIN number. On the back of the car title, you will sign, date and write down the current mileage of the vehicle.
TIP: This is considered a legal document, so use a good black pen and write legibly.
Next up, a signature from lean holders. Before you can legally part ways with your ride, you’ll need to get the title signed by any lienholders that may exist.
TIP: Lost your title? No problem. Simply fill out Form VTR-34 Application for a Certified Copy of Title at your local DMV. Usually, there is a small administrative fee between $2-$6. Proper transfer of a title is an important step. Failure to follow DMV and Texas guidelines could result in the seller or buyer being accused or responsible for traffic violations or criminal acts committed by the other party.
Step 6: Signing the Buyer’s Application for Title
Next up, you’ll need Form 130-U (which can be found online here). This is the buyer’s application for the title. Simply fill in the sales price of your car in the appropriate field.
TIP: This form is only good for 30 days post-sale, during which time the buyer is required by law to ‘title’ the vehicle in their name. Adding your own signature to this form provides them with the legal ability to make that transfer.
Step 7: Don’t Forget to Remove your Plates and Notify Your Insurance Company
Those license plates are your own and can be transferred to your next vehicle. Given that these plates are registered in YOUR name, you never want to let a buyer leave with them.
Similarly, you don’t want to be paying for insurance on a car you no longer own. Contact your Houston, Texas car insurance company and make sure to inform them of the date the vehicle is no longer legally in your name.
Step 8: Remove your Vehicle Registration Sticker
This sticker can typically be found on the inside edge of the windshield. It might take a little doing, but with the help of a razor blade (and even some rubbing alcohol), you’ll have it off in no time.
Step 9: Accompany the Buyer to Your Local County Tax Office to Finalize the Transaction
We’re now in the home stretch and the finish line is in sight. Although its usually best to accompany the buyer for finalizing the paperwork at the local county tax office, you can alternatively file an official vehicle transfer notification with the Texas state DMV instead.
TIP: If you opt to file a vehicle transfer notification, be advised that this needs to happen within 30 days of the date of sale.
And that’s all there is to it! With a little planning and preparation, you can easily sell your used car in Texas, netting you a nice chunk of change in the process.