CarLotz Review: Buying & Selling on Consignment

What’s the best way to sell a car? The easiest way is to trade in your car to a dealer, but you’ll get paid less than the vehicle is worth. The most lucrative way is to buy or sell your car privately, but then you have to deal with waffling buyers, bargain-hunters and even scammers. CarLotz offers something different: car consignment. Read our CarLotz review below to decide if it’s right for you.

CarLotz’s Review: Pros and Cons

In 2011, three business partners in Richmond, Virginia came up with a novel way to sell used cars. Instead of buying cars outright — and shouldering all the overhead — they would help private sellers consign their cars. For an upfront fee of $199, the company cleans, inspects, and runs a vehicle safety report on your car. For an additional $100-$120, CarLotz will fully detail your car.

The company then photographs, lists and sells your car for you. CarLotz displays it on the lot, and its professional sales staff  handles all the negotiations, test drives and paperwork. When a buyer makes an offer, it’s up to you to accept or reject it. Once your vehicle sells, the company takes a $699 fee from the sales proceeds. You get the rest.

Why Should I Use CarLotz?

CarLotz’s appeal is simple: The company says they can help you get the most money for your car. CarLotz estimates that if you go the usual route and sell to a dealer, you’ll get 15 to 25 percent less than you would if you sold to a private-party buyer. In fact, the company says its sellers typically see a $2,000-$5,000 benefit from using their services. Buyers, too, can see big savings, and can negotiate directly with the seller of the vehicle they’re interested in.

CarLotz pros and cons

Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of using CarLotz to buy or sell a car.

CarLotz pros:

  • By cutting out the middleman, buyers and sellers alike can save thousands.
  • CarLotz’s flat commission structure means that all cars are treated equally, and sales staff won’t pressure buyers to choose a more expensive model.
  • The company reduces the uncertainty and risk of buying a car on the private market by running vehicle history reports and handling all the financing and paperwork.

CarLotz cons:

  • You could get the same results yourself if you invest some time and money into preparing your car for sale and advertising it. CarLotz co-founder Michael Bor shares his top 10 tips for selling your car here. The main thing is attention to detail, he says, and taking as many pictures as you can.
  • CarLotz tells buyers that “we are not mechanics and do not conduct thorough quality inspections.” You’ll have to arrange for your own mechanic’s inspection.
  • As of 2014, the company’s three locations are all in Virginia. Sellers outside the local area will have to pay a shipping fee to get their car to the lot.

Who Gets the Most Benefit from CarLotz?

Many buyers and sellers say CarLotz is the best way to sell a car, praising the company’s professional service and easy process in online reviews. “This was by far the best experience I have ever had purchasing a vehicle,” one Google reviewer says. Price-conscious car buyers and sellers who don’t want the hassle of using Craigslist or similar car listing services should consider CarLotz.

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