How To Talk To The Seller… Who May Not Be The Owner

By on December 2, 2016


By owner? Yeah right!

Dealers masquerading as individuals on Craigslist are as common as potholes in New Jersey. In fact, they may be even more common than that.


If you shop on Craigslist, you will quickly find that there are a not-so-small army of dealers and private sellers who are selling cars under an alias.

These are curbstoners. Individuals who are selling open titles with names on the front side of that document that don’t match their own.

A curbstoner always keeps the title in the old owners name. If they were legitimate sellers, they would register the car and get a new title but instead they want no record of their involvement. Either because either the car has an expensive repair issue, or they are trying to flip the car for a quick buck.


These con-men are everywhere these days. But guess what? You already have the information in that history report to help figure them out. Most curbstoners are not even good at hiding their inhuman face. You want to eliminate these people and find out the deeper truth from those who are actually the long-term keeper of a used car, instead of the quick flipper of a hot potato or worse..

This is how you do it.

Ask Conversational Questions:

Don’t go through a checklist of questions that starts with, “How’s the engine?” How’s the transmission?” and ends with things you can eventually figure out yourself such as “Does the horn work?” “Do the buttons on the radio work?” Most scammers have plenty of experience answering simple yes or no questions.

Instead, let them tell you a story about the car which will let you reference specifics in that history report. These are the three questions I always ask before driving out to see a car.

“I like to catch up on maintenance whenever I buy a used car. When did you get this car? I would like to figure out what you needed to repair on it so I eventually get everything back in day one condition.”

99% of scam artists won’t be looking at a history report when they talk to you on the phone. If the acquisition date they tell you doesn’t approximately match what’s on the Carfax, or they just say, “I just changed the oil!” while you see numerous recent documented repairs on the car’s history, move on. You just saved yourself some serious money and time.


I always use conditional words and phrases such as – ” Can you… would you… do you know… is it possible.” It’s non-threatening, and the polite approach encourages the owner to provide additional information that goes beyond the yes or no..

“I’m looking at keeping this car for a long time. Do you know any problems I should look out for? I know no car is perfect. I just want to get a clear perspective.”


Notice that I said, “I know no car is perfect.” This gets the seller off the hook from saying the car is without fault. This is a used car, and both of you should have reasonable expectations about what that really means An excellent condition car is not a perfect car. Remember that.

The final question is the most important one of all.

“If I come by and want to buy the car, would it be OK if I took it to my Mechanic Edmonton, AB before making the final decision?”


If the answer is no, STOP! Do not pursue the conversation any further. Thank them, and relish in the fact that there are now over 230 million used cars in the USA. There will be something else out there that will be well worth your time.

If the answer is in the lines of an, “Of course!” or “Absolutely!”, and everything else has checked out, it’s now time to see the car in its rolling motorized flesh. Congrats! You have already eliminated over 90% of the rolling money pits without ever leaving your house. Now it’s time to get behind the wheel and figure out the basics of the car’s condition.

The Test Drive : You Don’t Need To Know Everything!


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