Courtney Hammons and her husband pulled into a church parking lot in Brentwood, Tenn., near Nashville on a Sunday afternoon this month to meet the seller of a 2007 GMC Yukon they saw advertised online.
The couple were not worried about being robbed or becoming victims of the shenanigans that can happen with a vehicle purchase that originates from an online classified ad. They had a reason for being at ease: The ad that the couple responded to was posted on Facebook via a new feature, which the social media giant quietly rolled out last fall. One analyst who tracks online advertising believes that with a few improvements, Facebook, because of it reach, has the potential to be a major force in used-car sales.
The Hammonses knew who they were dealing with. The seller's full name was in the ad, and they could see how long the seller had been a member of Facebook. They viewed this and other basic information before deciding to check out the vehicle. They did not look at dealerships' local inventories or check other major online venues. Three days later, after two mechanics certified the high-mileage Yukon to be in outstanding condition, $6,500 in cash changed hands, and the big seven-seat SUV went home with the Hammonses.