My new money making hobby

If you’ve been reading my blog for over four years (which probably no one has), you may recall I used to own a motorcycle. Shortly after I got my crotch rocket, my dad got a Harley. Shortly after my dad got a Harley, he got in a motorcycle accident which nearly cost him his leg (fortunately for him it just resulted in a muscle transplant and a few skin grafts). Shortly after my dad got in his motorcycle accident, Girl Ninja demanded I sell my motorcycle. Which I did, and used the proceeds to buy her an engagement ring.

Somehow, I got Jedi-mind-tricked and gave up my motorcycle I love for a tiny little diamond. I’ve asked Girl Ninja a handful of times over the years if I could get a motorcycle again, and she has always told me “No.”

A few weeks back, in a moment of weakness, I convinced Girl Ninja to let me go scooter shopping.

In typical frugal fashion, I wasn’t just on the hunt for any ol scooter. I was on the hunt for a GREAT deal. I wanted to buy a scooter that I knew I could sell for more than I paid for it, in the event I decided scootering sucked.

As it turns out, there is money to be made in the scooter market.

Case Study #1:

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My first scooter purchase was actually buying two scooters. A guy had posted up two 49cc Honda Metropolitans that were in virtually brand new condition. The blue and white one was a 2006 and had 1,200 miles on it. The all white one was a 2009 and had just 130 miles. Since they are under 50cc they do not require a motorcycle’s license. And they were a screaming deal. $2,500 for the set. I snatched em up the moment I saw them, assuming I could get at least $3,000 if I sold them separately.

Less than 12 hours after I bought them, I sold the one with 1,200 miles on it to a friend for $1,400 (which he then sold a few weeks later to someone for $1,450).  For now, Girl Ninja has decided she wants to keep the white one for herself. I imagine she’ll be ready to sell it next season and we should be able to get about $1,600 for it considering it will have less than 1,000 miles on it and is three years newer than the other one.

So she gets to ride a scooter for a year, and we profit $500 from the sale of both scooters.

Case Study #2: 

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Once I realized how easy it is to buy/sell scooters, I snatched up another Honda Metropolitan. This time it was a 2009 with 2,200 miles on it listed for $1,100. I offered $900, the guy countered at $1,000, but 20 minutes later said he had gotten a ton of emails for $1,100 and would sell to me for that price if I wanted.

OF COURSE I DID!

I bought it the next morning for $1,100 and posted it on Craigslist later that night for $1,700. After two weeks of riding it, and no offers, I dropped price to $1,550 and sold it for that amount the next day. So I got to ride a scooter for free for a few weeks and profit $450 on the sale.

Case Study #3:

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Having felt pretty good about my first few flips I decided to up the ante. Instead of dealing with the cheaper 49cc scooters, I wanted to go big. A guy in Seattle had a 2007 Vespa GTV 250cc scooter posted for $4,000. Blue book for the scooter is $3,550, but since it only had 2,000 miles on the odometer (instead of the 12,000 miles KBB assumes), it was priced pretty fairly.

Flipping isn’t successful if you have to pay fair market value.

I wanted to know I had some equity in it the moment I bought it.  I offered the guy $3,000 for the scooter and he laughed in my face. A week later I offered $3,200 and the guy said if it hadn’t sold within the week he would consider $3,500. Another week later, I make the trip out to look at his scooter, and although it’s totally worth the $3,500 asking price, I really wanted to try and get it for a bit cheaper. I walked away and told the guy to let me know if he would take $3,200 for it, but I wasn’t willing to pay above that.

The next morning I had an email from him agreeing to my deal. I bought it later that day and have been riding it for the last month. I love the thing to death and think it’s super sexy. It’s up on Craigslist right now for $3,850 and I literally had to stop typing this post a few seconds ago because I got a bite on it.

One of these days I’ll actually keep a scooter for myself, but it’s almost impossible to pass up the opportunity to drive a scooter for free for a few weeks and then sell it for $500 above what I paid for it. Scooter flipping may not be for everyone, but in the summer months it sure can be a nice way to make some extra moolah.

You ever ventured in to the flipping game? If you were to flip something, what would it be?

14 thoughts on “My new money making hobby

  1. I bet you’ll find several of us who have been reading for over 4 years – I remember when you were still punching your student loan debt and hadn’t yet shown us your face! On a personal note, after 16 years of marriage, we just bought my husband his first motorcycle this month. He is over the moon and can’t wait to get the license to go with it. Good luck on the flipping!

  2. I must say, I’ve never thought of flipping scooters before, but it sounds like it’s working well for you! I haven’t really ventured into flipping, but I see deals on furniture (especially trendy, mid-century pieces) that I know I could sell for more on Craigslist.

  3. I would have never guessed there could be so much money in the scooter market. My brother-in law does this with cars he knows the market well and can just spot a good deal. But he has to keep the number of cars he buys and sells below a certain number each year otherwise he would need a dealers license. Is it the same for scooters?

  4. I was one of those on the other end. I sold a scooter (Honda) for $200 and had ~800 miles.

    There are deals out there. I’m sure more than just scooters.

  5. So what were the potential deals that got away? Though we love hearing about the great ones, most people don’t share the 16 that wouldn’t lower their price or someone else bought it at par value.

    I don’t consider it flipping, but my garden (soil, seeds, fertilizer, repairs, etc.) every year is paid for by the extra plants that sprout and that I sell at the road stand.

    • No deals so far have gotten away. Of course there are people that wont budge on price, but for every person like that, there is someone willing to sell for under market value for a variety of reasons (moving, old, cash strapped, don’t realize what they have). Every scooter I’ve bought thus far I’ve been able to sell for a tidy profit.

      As long as I don’t get greedy I should at minimum, always be able to break even on a deal.

      It’s also worth mentioning the scooter market is super location based. Meaning if someone posts a steal of a deal on Craigslist, but lives in an obscure area they might have a tough time selling it, since most people in Washington can’t transport scooters on freeways. I have a SUV with a trailer hitch so I can travel to the more rural locations, haul the scooters back to the Seattle area, and sell them for profit to young tech Microsoft/Google employees or a UW college student.

  6. I flip guitars off of ebay/craigslist. It was my way to earn extra kool-aid money in college, and I loved doing it! It’s amazing how many people don’t realize the value, or just want to get rid of it because they need a little bit extra cash. I have fallen in love with a couple and kept them, but overall I think it’s been a profitable venture. This scooter thing sounds interesting though..

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