Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
That old proverb rings particularly true when it comes to selling in the second hand market. If you’ve ever sold something and gotten all excited only to wind up not getting paid, you know what I’m talking about. These situations not only leave you hanging, but they often cause you to lose other potential buyers as well, almost doubling the sting of disappointment.
I find that at least once a month I’m reminded that people are not always as honest as they claim to be. I am constantly asked to hold an item for a week or a month because the buyer claims they can’t buy it now, but they will definitely be able to buy it at said future date. No matter the sob story they present or the number of promises they make, you can never be sure they will come through – and in my experience, they almost always leave you hanging.
The only way to protect yourself from this kind of disappointment is to require a non-refundable deposit. This immediately weeds out a good percentage of the flakey buyers. I recommend that you require at least 15% of the total price. This way if they don’t pay by the agreed upon date, you at least have something to cover your loss of selling time.
I do understand that we all want to be kind and help out our fellow man when we can, but I guarantee you that if a buyer can’t pay you for at least 15% of the item now, they aren’t going to be able to pay you the full amount in two to three weeks.
One more thing to note for these types of situations is that you want to make sure you put everything in writing. Draft some sort of document for both of you to sign stating that both parties agree to the time frame and the total amount due, and don’t forget to include that the deposit is non-refundable. A lot of my friends like to call this tactic “having skin the game.” It really is the only way to protect yourself as a seller. Words are worthless if they’re not backed up with action.
Good luck on all your selling adventures.