It's worth $20,000, you pay $10,000, are you happy?

A coworker’s BIL killed himself, leaving behind an old Mustang. Allegedly, the car was worth somewhere over $20,000, but his wife wanted it sold and took $10,000 for it.

My husband: “Woo! That guy got a great deal!”
Me: “Ouch. That guy took advantage of an unhappy situation.”


Did the purchaser know the situation?

If I see something I want advertised for a price I am willing to pay, I generally don’t question the motives of the seller.

I don’t think anybody was “ripped off” or “taken advantage of”. While the car might be “worth” $20k to other cognescenti, it was only “worth” $10k to the wife (who might have made the decision “I could dicker and get ‘full value’, but losing $8-10k is ‘worth’ it if I don’t have to go through a lot of emotional stress getting rid of this car”.)

Remember: value isn’t merely about dollars and sense, it also pertains to the emotional satisfaction/distress one receives from a purchase/sale. She might not be receiving full monetary value for the car, but if having it around causes her a lot of distress, getting rid of it pronto would decrease the emotional cost of owning the car.

If that makes any sense.

No idea if the real buyer did.

But in this mythical Dope World, we get to know the situation, so would you buy the item for much less than you know it’s worth?

Responding to the question in the title–maybe.

I’d be a little concerned though that if it was really worth 20K, and I only paid 10K, that there was something wrong with it that I didn’t know about.

Or if it was a service, maybe the quality wasn’t as high as it could have been.

In the example from the OP, meh. The car may have been worth more than $20K, but there’s a distinct question of how much is the time and energy required to get that maximum value from the car worth to me. And I don’t think that the buyer needs to feel bad for (admittedly) taking advantage of a unhappy situation.

I assume that b-i-l’s wife is car buyers s-i-l. Is really the sort of guy who’d pull a fast one on a relative, particularly a grieving relative?

Perhaps the relief of not having to see it in her driveway, or think about its disposition was worth more to her than getting as much as she potentially could for the car.

There might be some aspect of your coworker’s relationship with his b-i-l that made his widow want him to have it, and a lower price was the only way to make that work.

If he talked her into a lower price by decieving her in some way then that’s slimy.

Also, if eBay has taught me anything it’s that the mere fact that someone, somewhere would pay $20k for something doesn’t mean it’s actually worth $20k.


That, uh, should be “dollars and cents” in post #3.

I’m deeply embarrassed. :wink:

No. The buyer is someone unrelated.

I may not be interpreting the OP correctly but it sounds like the buyer wasn’t just being a jerk and only offered $10k, it was freely offered for sale at that price. Why should the buyer pay more than what it’s being offered at?
The buyer got a sweet ride that he may not have been able to afford, so someone could be made happy from the result of the death and subsequent car sale. I think it’s unlikely that selling the car at any price could make the widow happy.

Even if it’s worth $20,000 in theory, I think she would have had to work hard to get that much. Put an ad on the paper, take phone calls, deal with people coming by to see it, etc. My car’s blue book value is $3500, but I can’t just take it to a used car dealer and expect them to give me $3500 - in fact, I did take it and was offered $1300 for it.

It would also depend on who first proposed the $10,000 price. If it was the seller, then there is no problem at all. If it was the buyer, then maybe you could make a case for “taking advantage of a widow.”

Absolutely. If I knew the situation, I would offer my condolences, but I would still want the best price I could get. I actually have a good friend who got a truck in a similar situation. Her husband needed a truck, they saw a listing in the paper and went to see the truck. When they get there, little old lady tells them the truck was her husband’s (who had passed away a few weeks earlier) and he only used it around the farm. She was only asking for the payoff on the loan, $2K and the truck was less than 2 years old with less than 1K miles on it. Of course they bought the truck – who wouldn’t?

If in this hypothetical situation, the (assumed to be) grieving widow was asking $20K, I don’t think I’d offer $10K, but I might still ask if she was flexible. Can’t help it, I am a haggler.

Depends on the specifics of the situation really. In general I don’t see anything wrong with making a lowball offer. If she thought $10,000 wasn’t a fair price, she was free to decline the offer and hold out for more. Now, if she was obviously distressed and unable to fully understand the situation, or if the buyer tried to mislead her into thinking the car was worth less than it really was, I’d say he acted unethically. That’s assuming the buyer even knew that he was making this deal with a grieving widow.

Just as an aside, I knew a lot of guys that had GTO’s, Firebirds, etc. that were “worth” $15-20k and, to the best of my knowledge, none of them ever sold one for what they believed it to be worth. A $2000 hunk of rust with $20,000 worth of parts and labor might have sold for $15k, if the numbers matched.

But to answer the actual question - I wouldn’t haggle a bereaved widow down $10k, but I wouldn’t offer more than she was asking even if I felt it was worth more… Within reason.
I have suggested that someone could probably get more than they asked -
Divorce, he committed a felony, she had his guns, a few of which were worth much more than she thought, I talked her into selling the Weatherbys on consignment at a reputable dealer rather than to the first jerk that offered to get them out of the house. So a freakishly good deal (say she was asking $1000 for the Muskrat, or it was especially rare or something) I’d possibly mention that it might be best to reconsider, but I’d take it if she just wanted it gone and didn’t care so much about the money.

First off the value of a car like a classic Mustang can be all over the map.
for example I have seen 88-93 fox body Mustangs on Craig’s list for anywhere from $800-$16,000. Another example. An Austin Healey 3000 sold at Barrett-Jackson for $150,000 dollars a while back. Does that make every 3000 a 150 kilobuck car? Nope, you can still buy them between about 25K to 50K A super nice resto will set you back 75K. So how did BJ get 150 for it? Beats me, but I think the free drinks they give the bidders might have a tiny bit to do with it.

What the car is worth is what a willing buyer is will to give to a willing seller.
I bought a car once from a widow. I asked her what she wanted for it, and she said $500. I gave it to her. That car was worth exactly $500 to both of us. The fact that I fixed it up and sold it nine months later for $1,000 is immaterial.
If you doubt this watch the Barrett-Jackson auction sometimes. Cars that are expected to bring super bucks sometimes don’t and cars that are not expected to preform well become superstars.

All of this assumes no misrepresentations on the part of either party.

Unless money was an issue for the widow, I wouldn’t have a problem with the deal. I’ve found that in times of steep stress, just getting whatever the issue is dealt with is worth the money bypassed. She may be feeling the same way.

If she offered the car for $10,000, and I knew the situation, I would probably tell her I would be glad to give her that for the car but that she could probably get more. If she was still willing to sell for that price, I’d be a fool not to take it.

I recently went to an estate sale where I saw antiques go for a fraction of their value. Some of the stuff broke my heart; I know the dealers are going to make lots of money off stuff they bought for a song. I got a 24-piece set of very expensive crystal glassware for $25. Then I paid $10 for two needlepoint pillows (they match the colors in my living room) because I hated to see all of this lady’s beautiful needlepoint just sitting there and no one bidding on it.

Yes, I’m a sucker. If those people had family, I sure hope they didn’t attend that auction.

If the buyer was upfront about the entire deal, not a problem.

I know a guy that collects and deals in vintage Rolex watches. He loved to tell the story of the time he talked a guy into selling him a Paul Newman Daytona model for $8,000. Evidently it had been given to the guy as a gift, and had a lot of sentimental value. The guy I know pressured him a bit, and got him to sell that day, for cash.

Had the seller done a little bit of research, he’d have know that a Paul Newman Daytona Rolex is worth about $50,000 these days (probably closer to $20,000 at the time of the story).

Seller beware, I guess. But I couldn’t have done it.

As others have pointed out, there is a question about the price. A collector cars can take a while to sell, so the widow may have been willing to let it go for the lessor amount. If that were the case, I may buy it at the lower price because I wouldn’t spenk $20k on that car, but I would spend $10k.

I’ve got a watch collection, including a number of fairly expensives models, but you would have to work to sell them at top dollar (or yen :wink: ) and I would see my wife taking less in a similar situation, not that I’m planning on offing myself.