Find a buyer for a vehicle

How to find a buyer for a vehicle in the US as a non US-resident

A female traveler selling a vehicle in the United States


All good things must come to an end.

If you own a vehicle in the United States, at some point you may want to sell it - in order to do that, of course, you need to find a buyer for your vehicle.

This is an article about selling a vehicle in the US, written for travelers, tourists, travelers, foreigners - anyone who doesn't live in the US, but wants to find a buyer for a vehicle that they own in the United States.

If you've already found a buyer, and want to understand the mechanics of transferring ownership of your vehicle, head over to our guide, How to sell a vehicle in the US as a non-US resident.

There are four things to think about when finding a buyer for a vehicle in the United States:

  • The types of vehicle buyers,
  • The types of vehicle values,
  • Price guides, and
  • A strategy for selling your vehicle.

Let's dive in.

How are you going to register your vehicle?

Buying a vehicle is the easy part. But how are you going to register it?

Vehicle registration is done by the US states, not the national government.

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The types of vehicle buyers

In general, there are two types of buyers:

  • Dealerships, and
  • Individuals.

These days, "Dealerships" include physical auto dealers as well as the large and growing number of online vehicle buying services.

And individuals are buyers that you might find on Facebook or Craigslist.

The prices offered by dealers and individuals will differ slightly, let's discuss that next.

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The types of vehicle values

Dealerships and individual buyers have different wants and needs - dealers buy vehicles to sell for a profit, and individuals buy vehicles for personal use.

As a result, a dealership and an individual will value the same vehicle differently.

There are two types of vehicle values:

  • Wholesale - the price that a dealership, online vehicle buying service, or auction will pay for your vehicle, and
  • Private Party - the price that an individual buyer will pay for your vehicle.

In general, the wholesale value is lower than the private party value - again, a wholesale buyer is a business that needs to make a profit.

But the tradeoff is speed and convenience.

It may take a month or more for an individual to show up who is willing to pay private party value for your vehicle. In the meantime, you'll have to show your vehicle to multiple potential buyers.

Selling your vehicle to a wholesale buyer, such as a dealership or an online vehicle buying service, can take as little as an hour.

Depending on how you value your time, accepting a lower wholesale price may be a better deal for you overall.

So how do you learn how much your vehicle might be worth to a wholesale or individual buyer?

This is where price guides come into play.

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Price guides

The most widely used price guide in the United States is Kelley Blue Book.

Simply enter your vehicle's VIN, mileage, and sale location, and Kelley Blue Book will return a range of values for your vehicle.

Example of Kelley Blue Book vehicle valuation guide
Example of Kelley Blue Book vehicle valuation guide

Kelly Blue Book provides private party valuations as well as wholesale valuations (which they call Trade-In value).

Other popular price guides include Blackbook and National Auto Dealer's Association (NADA).

Try not to get stuck on one price or another. Instead, remember that your vehicle has a range of values, and sometimes, getting the highest possible price isn't worth the time or effort.

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A strategy for selling your vehicle

When selling a vehicle, your job is to generate multiple options for yourself and to choose the option that works best for you.

Below is a strategy for quickly generating options for yourself.

Find guide price

First, plug your vehicle's VIN into Kelley Blue Book to find estimates for your vehicle's private party and wholesale values.

Write these estimates down.

Check online vehicle buying service prices

Next, plug your vehicle's VIN into online vehicle buying services, including:

Write these offers down.

The offers are usually valid for a fixed number of days and/or miles, but you can always generate offers again later.

List your vehicle on private party sites

Post pictures and a description of your vehicle on Facebook, Craigslist, and AutoTrader with a price near its KBB Private Party value.

Sit back and wait for offers.

If your vehicle hasn't gotten interest within a few days or a week, you might consider dropping the price.

If you follow the strategy laid out above, you'll have multiple offers for your vehicle. Choose the offer that works best for you.

Hire the experts

Don't leave anything to chance - hire to register your vehicle in the US.

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With the vehicle in the seller's possession and the money from the sale in your account, you're done!

Let's Get You on the Road

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