How to Sell a Car in Australia with James Buchan

In this Interview In Depth lesson, we’re going to study a portion of the episode: AE 421: How to Sell a Car in Australia with James Buchan.

Read and listen to the full interview here.

How to complete this lesson:

  1. Listen & read
  2. Complete the quizzes

AE 422: How to Sell a Car in Australia with James Buchan

Difficulty: Beginner

Red text – Aussie slang

Blue text – Lesson vocab

So, what are some things you would look out for in buyers who’ve come to your house? What are some warning signs that people are time-wasters or that they’re a bit dodgy or sketchy, and you can’t really trust them, and you… Yeah, can you talk about that a little bit?

So, I guess I’ve been one of those buyers before where I… Look… I’ve…. I won’t say that I’ve been sketchy, but I have gone to look at a car, because I was, perhaps, interested in that model, but I wasn’t intending on buying that specific car. So, in that instance, the seller has, perhaps, taken me for a test drive, or I’ve gone for a ride in the car, I‘ve looked over it, and perhaps I’ve decided that’s not for me. And you know what? If you’re selling a cheap car or, I guess, any car for that matter, you might encounter one or two of those types of people that, you know, they want to look at it. They‘re just getting to know the type of vehicle that‘s up for sale. They might not want to buy it.

There’s nothing you can do about it.

And that’s… Yeah, I think that’s an inevitability. There’s not much you can do about that. In terms of sketchy people, yeah again, I think you need to be a personal judge of character. You need to sort of be able to read the situation as well. If someone seems untrustworthy, I guess, you need to see the red flags and for the alarm bells to be working, you need to be able to put two and two together. If someone doesn’t seem to be willing to hand over a license or, you know, you just get this odd feeling about them, perhaps don’t let them take the car for a test drive or go with them.


I guess just use common sense.

And are there any unreasonable requests that you should just flat out say no to from buyers when they come to your house? And this might lead to haggling for the price.

Like… let’s say. I wouldn’t say to them, “Oh, you know what? you can have the car for a week. See if you like it after a week. And then… and then buy it”. That that would be an unreasonable request and I wouldn’t be okay with that. No, they need to do their homework. In terms of other unreasonable requests, you know, if the car is pretty cheap, don’t expect that it’s… you know, if it says no roadworthy certificate, that’s… yeah, don’t expect that the buyer the seller is going to provide a roadworthy the certificate. If they’ve said it doesn’t have one, it’s probably not going to come with one. You know, if… Or if the seller is willing to provide one for extra money, then… and you want it, then yeah, just pay the extra money and let the seller go and get a roadworthy certificate for you, but don’t expect that that’s going to come with the car for no extra cost. ‘Cause they’re pretty…

They‘re cutting into their price that they’re trying to get for it.

Yeah. And if it’s a fair price that’s just that’s just being tight.

You’re punching him in the face.

Pretty much. When I sell or buy, I like to think there is a fair price for whatever I’m sort of. Whatever I’m buying. So, I will look at what I’m buying, I’ll see other comparable products on the market doesn’t have to just be a car and I like to think that if I’m, you know, I’ve done enough homework, I know roughly what it is that I’m buying and if it’s at a fair price point. I’m not going to try and barter too hard yeah or throw too many lowballs, but I think that that is an unfortunate practice that just does take place these days that in everything, you will get a lot of lowballs, you know.

Can you talk about that, I guess, what should you expect with regards to setting your price and should you post anything to indicate that you will not negotiate the price of the car that you’re trying to sell? Can you talk a bit about that?

Yeah. So, if you‘ve advertised your car for a really fair price, let’s just use say. Let’s say you want five thousand four and that’s a fair price. People like, generally people like to get this feeling of negotiation or getting a slight win, doesn’t have to be just with buying a car. I just think in general. When you’re a buyer you’d like to sort of… Test out the boundaries. That’s just human nature. So…

If you want $5,000 for the car, then perhaps list it for maybe $6,000 or… and at least that way you will have factored in that negotiation.

That negotiation.

Exactly, as you said, because if you just listed for five, you’re going to get someone who’s, you know, going to come along and say, “Oh, mate, I like your car. How about… Would you take four and a half for it? Would you take three for it?

So, would you bump it up 10 to 20 percent in the higher bracket of what other cars are going for? So, you’d also… I guess, we should mention, you’d have a look to see how much the exact same car is going for on these sites, like Gumtree and Carsales, and then you’d match that price when you’re setting the price on the ad. And then, would you try and set it in the top margin, or would you aim for the lower margin? I guess, you have to decide on quality.

That depends on the condition of your car.

And if it has a roadworthy?

And if and if it has a roadworthy, but as you said, it’s always a good idea to check out what other ones are listed for sale at, and then place it accordingly, being fully aware that people are going to come in and they’re going to want to bargain you down.

I guess, that’s a cultural thing. I would be expecting that someone is going to say, “Yeah, I really like the car, took it for test drive, but I only want to give you this for it. What do you say?”. So, I guess that’s something, listeners be aware of the fact that when selling a car there will be that bartering culture in that aspect of Australian culture. We have it in many areas, but it’s definitely in selling second-hand goods.

Yeah, absolutely, and I think you’ll find that with anything on Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, especially with a car. And there are… there are a lot of people that do like to… I’ll call them “low-ballers”.

It’s like they’re throwing a ball low, the price low.

Yeah, and it can be the real bane of anybody’s existence is trying to sell something online. I’ve got a friend and he runs a business dismantling imported Japanese cars or perhaps from Europe, and he’s had some very strange requests. He’s been offered rare jewellery before.

In exchange?

Yeah. He’s been offered up plumbing, including a new toilet, and he’s been offered a pair of size 10 brand new Nikes as well.


And none of those things he wants and he says well, “Look if you…”, you know.

Worth trying.

Well I guess anything’s worth trying, but you know, if you’ve got plumbing equipment to sell, just to sell the plumbing equipment, and don’t assume that if something is advertised that someone‘s willing to do a trade with you. I think that has to be stipulated in the ad. If you’re a seller and you’re willing to trade, you would perhaps need to write what you wanted to trade in.

Will trade for money.”

Yes, but don’t say “Oh, you know, I will trade for rare jewels or some plumbing equipment“, because that’s just going to get people offside.


ST = something

SW = somewhere

SO = someone

A cultural thing – a common culture practice

A fair price point – a decent price for ST

A license – a permit for driving

A lowball – Lit. a ball thrown low so it’s hard to hit; Fig. a price well below what is fair or what you’re asking for

A model (of car) – a type of car

A personal judge of character – “A good judge of character” is SO who has instinctual perception about human nature, i.e. can tell if a stranger is good or bad.

A request – an act of asking politely or formally for ST

A ride – be carried or supported by (ST moving with great momentum, i.e. a car)

A roadworthy certificate – a certificate that shows your car is in good enough condition to be driven on the road

A test drive – a quick drive of a car or vehicle you wish to purchase

A time-waster – a person who wastes SO’s time

A warning sign – a prior indication that ST is going to happen

Accordingly – in a way that is appropriate to the particular circumstances

Advertise ST – publicise information about ST

An inevitability – a thing that is unavoidable, i.e. it will happen

An odd feeling – a strange emotional state or reaction (usually caused by ST)

An unfortunate practice – the unfortunate customary, habitual, or expected procedure or way of doing ST

Bargain SO down – negotiate the terms and conditions of a transaction lower

Barter – exchange (goods or services) for other goods or services without using money – though here I meant bargaining/negotiating price

Be punching SO in the face – a misuse of the expression “a slap in the face”, which is an unexpected rejection or affront

Be the bane of SO’s existence – the source or cause of one’s misfortune, unhappiness frustration, or anxiety, usually used hyperbolically

Be willing + verb – be ready, eager, or prepared to do ST

Come along – arrive

Comparable – able to be likened to another; similar

Cut into SO’s pricein this example, I meant if you ask for a roadworthy certificate to be paid for by the seller, that costs them money and results in a lower profit (i.e. cuts into their price).

Dismantle ST – take (a machine or structure) to pieces

Do one’s homework – research ST thoroughly

Dodgy – for a thing to be unsafe; for a person to be untrustworthy

Encounter ST – unexpectedly be faced with or experience (ST hostile or difficult)

Factor in ST – take ST into account

Flat out say no to ST – say “no” bluntly with no negotiation

Four and a half – $4,500

Get SO offside – cause SO to not like you or be disagreeable towards you

Get to know ST – become familiar with ST

Go for ST – be sold for (a price)

Haggle for the price – negotiate the price

Human nature – the general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioural traits of humankind, regarded as shared by all humans

In exchange (for ST) – as a thing exchanged (for ST)

In terms of ST – with regards to ST; concerning ST

Jewellery – personal ornaments, such as necklaces, rings, or bracelets, that are typically made from or contain jewels and precious metals

Look out for ST – be aware of ST; watch out for ST

Look over ST – examine ST thoroughly

Negotiate ST – obtain or bring ST about by discussion

Nike – a brand of sports clothing

On the market – for sale

Perhaps – maybe

Plumbing equipment – items used in plumbing

Provide ST – make ST available for use; supply ST

Put two and two together – draw an obvious conclusion from what is known or evident

Read a situation – judge a certain set of circumstances

Roughly – approximately

Second-hand goods – goods not sold brand new

See the red flags – see the warning signs

Sketchy – for a thing to be unsafe; for a person to be untrustworthy

Slight – small in degree; inconsiderable

Stipulate ST – demand or specify (a requirement), typically as part of an agreement

Test out the boundaries – test out the limits of ST, i.e. what you’re allowed to do

The alarm bells to be workinghere James is referring to the expression “set alarm bells ringing”. An “alarm bell” is one that rings when there’s danger. So, if your “alarm bells are working” he means you are aware of when there’s danger.

The condition of ST – the state that ST is in

The top margin – the upper range of ST, i.e. price

Throw a lowball – make too many very low offers when purchasing ST

Tight – not willing to spend or give much money; stingy

Trade (ST) for ST – exchange (ST) for ST else

Untrustworthy – not able to be relied on as honest or truthful

Up for sale – available to be bought

Use common sense – Use a basic level of practical knowledge and judgement that most people have when making decisions