The survey says used cars are more commonly bought online than in person

NEW YORK – Buying and selling used items can be a tricky business: one in four Americans feel “intimidated” by the idea of ​​making a deal they’re not sure about.

According to new research of 2,000 American adults, 69 percent who have ever personally bought or sold a used item admit they wish they could go back before making the deal so they could do things differently, especially when it comes to cars. Over the past year, used cars were the most purchased items both online (34%) and in person (31%).

Commissioned by CarLotz and conducted by OnePoll, the study found that 65% of Americans have bought a vehicle from someone else, but only 27% bought their car from a stranger in person. According to respondents, 66 percent of their used car purchases were made online. Meanwhile, 15% of respondents sold a car directly to another person, with the majority of those sales being in person (69%) rather than online (19%).

Half of those who have sold a car (49%) believe the process has taught them a lot about cars and the car market in general. Even with the rise of online marketplaces, vehicles are still the only item where almost half of the survey (49%) still prefer to meet in person.

While 41 percent of potential buyers of any used item—from phones to books to clothing—are fine with things being mailed to them, one in three would prefer to meet in person. More than a third (38%) would insist on taking someone with them to meet salespeople, while 37% would only interact with salespeople via text or messaging.

Let’s keep it online

Interestingly, sellers are more cautious about meeting potential buyers than the other way around. Only three out of 10 are willing to meet buyers in person; half would prefer to ship items directly and 29% prefer to interact only with online shoppers. Like their potential buyers, if they plan to make the deal in person, 41 percent prefer to have someone they know by their side.

The trend of buyers and sellers wanting to make a deal in person revealed a lot about people’s general comfort levels. While seven in 10 consider themselves ‘pros’ because of their experiences, more than half (55%) are hesitant to buy or sell items to other people.

Hesitations include fear of being lied to (42%), sharing personal information (41%) and going it alone (37%). Two in three (64%) say keeping their personal information private is important when dealing with other people. If someone violates their privacy, 45 percent would withdraw from the deal. Similarly, 41 percent will refuse to give their real phone number and 40 percent won’t reveal their real address.

Don’t forget to clean your car

Still, private information (19%) tops the list of items found in used cars, followed by old CDs and cassettes (17%) and spare car parts (17%).

“Simply put, the modern vehicle is like a cell phone on wheels,” Liz Messick, vice president of operations at CarLotz, said in a statement. “Four out of five vehicles sold last year contained personal data such as phone numbers, addresses and even our garage door codes. People often sell or give their car to a third party for sell without cleaning it.”

Ironically, many believe it’s okay to run a background check on the person they’re dealing with if they have access to their personal information.

46% would look up their social media accounts, 44% would see if they live in a good neighborhood, and 36% would even try to find out where the other person works. To add a level of convenience, many insist on meeting in public places such as shopping malls (29%) or police stations (17%).

Two in three think research is key before buying something used. These respondents take up to 36 hours to research before accepting a deal. This preference stems from an underlying fear of not knowing as much as possible before a purchase. Using the right platform also makes a difference in how people feel about bidding. Facebook Marketplace has the highest level of excitement (44%), while Craigslist generates the highest level of frustration (15%).

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