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Moderator, PLEASE leave this in the wagon section as this is a HUGE wagon issue because of the low production & rarity of certain color/year/mileage wagon combos.

The title got your attention. Would get mine, too. It's an actual ad I saw & bought the car, sight unseen about two years ago. I've seen SO many "too late, someone else bought it" stories in this wagon section, that I had to write this. Often, that someone else was ME, but often, not anyone from the forum got the car, & I was the "too late," though not for lack of trying.

Want to know how to snag a great deal when you're no where near the car? ACT! And QUICKLY!

1. If it seems like a great deal, amplify your cajones and get ready to BUY - not talk, not email, not wonder. It's unlikely a scam on one of these cars - sure, there have been a few (some scammer once hijacked one of my listings & a year later put it on Craigslist,) but it's unlikely. More often, it's a late model (value more widely known) car that's used to lure scammers. How many people out there REALLY know that 2700 for a 13 year old American car is cheap??? Generally, these cars are priced cheap because of buyer ignorance (even dealers - a Michigan dealer sold a 17k mi 95 RMW a week ago for 7500.)

2. If you have the VIN (like the AutoTrader ad did) run it on Carfax & see if the sellers location is about the same as the last registration.

3. If it's a STEAL, know that if YOU saw the listing, so have a bunch of other people that see the bargain, so you better get moving. Touche.

4. Call. Now. Be persistent if you get a machine. Leave a message every 5 minutes. Leave no doubt that you want to PURCHASE the car (not look, not haggle, not otherwise jerk his chain - just BUY.) Be the FIRST. If they tell you someone is on the way to look at the car, it's probably not BS if the car is a bargain! Talk BRIEFLY about the car (ask about anything MAJOR that's wrong - an honest seller will start blabbing about the minor stuff we all know goes wrong with these, but you, as a smart buyer, won't want to let him talk about that because that buys the next guy time to arrive at the door with the cash.) Talk MOSTLY about how to get it paid for. Get a couple hundred dollars to the seller FAST & promise to get the balance in his hands in no more than 48 hours. Pay with a credit card if possible (if it is a fraud, you have some protection.) But GET THE SELLER SOME MONEY. Put it where your mouth is! Get the promise that the car is not available for sale until you've had a chance to live up to your promise.

5. Remember, if you've seen every other 39k mile 96 go for 9-10 grand, & you have access to parts (ALL of us on the forum share, so we ALL have access - I just happen to have my own stash) then who CARES what minor stuff is wrong with the car???? At 2700 for a 40k car, I would have to spend FIVE grand on it before I got "hurt." But with what resources I have (as most of us here do) it's unlikely the car requires more than light sun damage reconditioning, maybe a grand to get the car standing tall. At this point, I have a $200 deposit downside potential, & six grand upside potential. Use this same rationale on ANY car! Even if the car was ROUGH, it'd bring the money. **Note - like this car - if the seller can't speak English, get someone who speaks Spanish! Or, ask for someone to translate! I seriously (& sadly) think on this car that the seller's English skills turned away most callers, who were probably pasty-white eldergents.**

6. Then, state that you'll probably send someone you know in the area to give the CASH (never mention a check) & pick up the paperwork &/or car.

7. NOW figure out the rest! But get the deal secured first. Find someone you trust nearby to wire the money to that can go get the car. There are a bunch of us on the forum, & there's likely someone nearby that can help you!

8. The best part - if your buddy goes by to pay for the car & it IS a scam or horribly misrepresented, he can walk away, & you're out a minuscule amount which you might even get back if it IS fraud.

9. If you can't find a friend, get a local repair shop (get license/bond number) to inspect & acquire the car for you. Most of them inspect (about $100) but most don't buy - you'll have to call around. You can also likely find a dealer to broker it for you - he'll likely have the cash to get the car bought, then re-sell to you for a fair amount (4-600 is fair.) Again, get license number & bond.

10. Once car is acquired, get a bill of sale to you (fax or email) ASAP & insure the car. Hopefully, you've spoken to the above folks about getting the car somewhere safe until you can pick up or transport.

11. Hold your breath, but not too long. Odds are STRONGLY in your favor that you got a great deal. Even if it needs some work you hadn't planned on, consider that you got the car for about ONE QUARTER of what they've been bringing.

This runs completely counter to most people's thinking: sit back, wait it out, be cautious, be ready to haggle, offer half the asking price, & all sorts of other behaviors that we're taught about buying cars. But when the "one that got away" turns into 3, 4 or more, you HAVE to re-examine your strategy.

Hope this helps some of you. Besides, if I'm scrambling to get a car bought, I'd rather know what my competition is up to. :)
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