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  • Jeremy Fisher

Flipping Cars for Fun and Profit

I still remember the excitement I felt when Tommy, my stepfather, invited me to my first car auction. I became intoxicated by the action between the auctioneer and bidders. Tommy’s voice cut through the chatter to shout the winning bid for an ugly, but reliable SUV. Two weeks and one paint job later I watched him sell it for a $2500 profit.

I was instantly hooked. I’ve been a car flipper ever since.

Over the years I learned how to consistently make a few thousand dollars on each car but there was a problem. I started spending hours and hours searching for deals in classified ads and Craigslist. Car flipping became an obsession that took up almost all of my free time. Sure, I was making money but considering how much time I was investing, was it really worth it?

That thought led me to this question: what is the least amount of time I could possibly spend on the entire finding, buying, and selling process? I didn’t know the answer, but I was determined to find out.

Luckily I had experience on my side. I knew that there are really just three steps to buying and selling a car.

1. Finding and buying a car at a great deal

2. Repairing any cosmetic or mechanical issues and cleaning the car

3. Advertising and selling the car

I had also learned that the MOST important step was the first one, which just so happened to be the step that often required the most time. I found that I spent nearly 75 percent of the car flipping process just trying to find a car at a great price.

So, I developed a strategy to get deals to come to me instead of going out to search for them myself. The crazy part is it worked.

These are the top 3 things that worked for me:

Instant Alerts - CPRO is a great smartphone app for setting up Craigslist alerts on new listings that meet your criteria. I set mine up to send a push notification anytime an ad description contained “must sell” or “make an offer”. Sellers that need to sell quickly are much more likely to sell their car at a deal and CPRO helps you get to those deals first. There’s a free version which allows you to set up a limited number of alerts, but I recommend spending a couple bucks to buy the paid version so you can set up as many as you want.

Targeted Craigslist Wanted Ads - These aren’t your granny’s wanted ads. These ads are targeted specifically to people that want a quick sale which usually translates into a great deal for you. And the great part is, wanted ads on Craigslist are 100% free. Here’s an ad that I used:

AD TITLE: I want a car today. I have CASH!

AD DESCRIPTION: I’m looking for a reliable vehicle ASAP. I have $2500 CASH and I can pick it up today. Text or call with what you have to (555)-123-4567

Paying My Friends - Just about everyone knows someone that is thinking about buying or selling a car. I offered to pay anyone that helped me find a car that I could flip. If I made $2000 on a car that was referred by a friend I gave them $200 as a finder’s fee. That kept my friends motivated and happy to continually bring me deals.

A few days after implementing this new strategy, I received a new notification through CPRO. A charcoal sedan in excellent condition had just been listed on Craigslist by a young couple that was moving out of town and had an urgent desire to sell before the move. They were asking $3800 for the car which was already under Kelly Blue Book value. And that’s when I read three of my favorite words in their ad: make an offer.

I quickly called the seller and offered $2800 pending a test drive. I made sure to mention that I could buy the car immediately and I had the cash in my pocket. After a quick test drive and a 15 minute visual inspection I bought the car on the spot. The couple mentioned how relieved they were that they found a buyer so quickly and thanked me for making the purchase so easy for them.

On the way home, I stopped at a car wash and gave it a quick rinse. The clear spring weather made the paint sparkle beautifully in the sun.

As soon as I got home I listed the car on Craigslist and expected that it would sell in the next day or two. Fifteen minutes after the listing was published I had an interested buyer heading to meet me. He took a quick look under the hood and handed me $4650. I gave him a bill of sale and he drove the car away.

What is the least amount of time I could possibly spend on the entire car flip process? 3 hours and $1800 later I had my answer.

Final Words - I truly hope you’ve enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. I’ve created a page on my site just for Everyday Driver readers. Visit me at to receive a free car flipping gift! Editors Note - Since we know this is not Paul and Todd's normal area of discussion, we're glad to have Jeremy contribute to the site. If you'd like to hear more stories from his adventures flipping cars, let us know!

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