Exchanging large amounts of money can be stressful and we get a lot of questions around safe transactions for buying and selling campervans. Our owner and veteran van buyer and seller, Jon, recently made a cross country purchase of a Vanagon and is here to help! Read on to get his tips for a safe and stress-free transaction.
1. Use an escrow service
Unless you have a history with your buyer or seller, establishing trust is crucial to any safe transaction. While I like to think that everyone in the vanlife world is on the same team, establishing trust with a stranger on the cusp of exchanging tens of thousands of dollars is still not a sure bet. Whether you are meeting in person or making a cross country deal, using a third party escrow service like KeySavvy can ensure both parties are holding up their end of the bargain.
KeySavvy charges a flat fee as opposed to a percentage of the price of the vehicle, which we really love. They also work if you still have a loan or the seller still has a loan. They provide a temporary license plate so you can hit the road right away.
How does an escrow service like KeySavvy work, Jon? Well, it’s easier than you think!
Here are the general steps:
- Create an account. If you’re the seller, you also add your vehicle and share KeySavvy with your buyer so they can get started.
- KeySavvy will verify the buyer’s identity and the seller’s ownership of the vehicle.
- The buyer pays online and the funds are held by KeySavvy until the seller hands over the keys.
- KeySavvy creates a bill of sale that the buyer and seller e-sign.
- When the buyer and seller meet to exchange keys or the vehicle is picked up by a shipping company, KeySavvy pays the seller and guarantees the buyer gets a clear title.
That’s it! Five easy steps to a 100% safe and secure vanlife transaction.
2. See the van in person or on video
During my cross country negotiation, I asked for recent photos of the van and title which helps prove the seller owned the van and was currently near the van.
I also requested Facetime chat! Having the seller walk around the van in real time showing me the vin, title, and that it started up was all I needed to go into a transaction with this person. In fact, I did not even need to review the vehicle when it arrived to feel comfortable releasing the funds. These are just a few important, but not absolutely necessary, steps I took to ensure I knew what I was buying. There are a lot of things you can do to add security to the transaction whether you’re a buyer or a seller but getting an in person meeting or a video call is always a good option!
3. Beware of scammers
And now the topic that no one loves: scammers. We have security in place on the site to keep bots from inundating our sellers with messages and are constantly working on upgrading security across our product. However, when you’re selling something on the internet (especially a six figure rig!) there’s always a potential of being targeted by a human scammer. We have our share of these folks going after our sellers and while we know it’s frustrating and can be a bummer if you waste time with them, we have a few tips to make sure you and your information are secure.
- Do not give out personal information like your driver’s license, home address, or credit card number. A serious buyer will not need this information to make the transaction.
- If you’re not using an escrow service like KeySavvy or a verified wire transfer, don’t assume a check will clear. Ensure all money is deposited before the van is shipped, delivered, or picked up. Involve your bank if you’re unsure of the validity of a check.
- Get on the phone or video if you suspect a scammer. Often, they will want to just text or email and create an excuse as to why they can’t speak in person or over the phone.
- When in doubt, send us an email at email@example.com with all correspondence. While we can’t tell you for sure whether or not someone is a scammer, we will do our best to give you guidance.
- FTC Selling Online Guide
- Vehicle History Report Scam
- Known Scammer Emails:
Good luck with those transactions, vanlifers!