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 escrow.com can ensure both parties are holding up their end of the bargain.
I want to note that escrow.com charges a small fee to facilitate the transfer of funds and title for a vehicle. You can find more information and calculate those fees at escrow.com/fee-calculator.
How does an escrow service work, Jon? Well, it’s easier than you think!
Here are those easy steps:
- Create an account
- Create a transaction
- “2020 Sprinter Camper Purchase”
- Create terms and conditions
- Do you want escrow.com to hold the title?
- Who is paying fees, buyer, seller, or splitting?
- How many days does the buyer have to review the vehicle?
- Return policy – put in writing what happens if the vehicle is not as described / needs to be sent back to the seller
- Both buyer and seller sign and agree to terms
- Buyer deposits full amount of purchase price for escrow to hold.
- Vehicle is delivered and inspected and then funds are released to the seller.
- The title can either be held and released by escrow (which adds time and a small fee) or the buyer and seller can agree to mailing the title upon receipt of funds.
That’s it! Seven easy steps to a 100% safe and secure vanlife transaction using escrow.com
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 Escrow.com 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 protected] 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.
Good luck with those transactions, vanlifers!