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I am looking to buy a car from a private party and I have the car picked out and ready to buy. The problem is, the person selling the car is not the person on the title, as he is selling it for a friend that moved abroad. The title has been signed, dated and notarized by the actual owner and there is no loan/lien against the car. So it's currently an open ended title just waiting for another signature. If I decide to buy this am I running a risk of potential problems because he is not the title owner? Also, the car is being financed, so would a bank release the amount of the loan without doing some sort of due diligence on the title?

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In my state you would be good to go.

I do believe that it is legal, but I wouldn't pay as much for a car like that as opposed to from a verifiable seller. Lookup the phrase curbstoner.

He's trying to avoid paying sales tax and registration fees on the car. Happens all the time. Just make sure the car isn't stolen and you should be OK.

Is there any other way besides running a AutoCheck report to tell if it is stolen? Everything is clean on the AutoCheck report

I sold my car to a private party in MA while the title was still under my dad's name. Things were mostly fine, until they needed to show the bill of sale to get the new registration (car was registered in another state). They refused because the bill of sale had my signature, and the title had my dad's. We had to fax the new owners a bill signed by my dad before things could go through. I do not know how big of a hassle this would have been if my dad was not helpful.


And yes, my dad did know and approve that I was selling the car. We just never thought about transferring it into my name.

zzyzzx said: I do believe that it is legal, but I wouldn't pay as much for a car like that as opposed to from a verifiable seller. Lookup the phrase curbstoner.

Good summary from the MD DMV website: Curbstoner

He may also just be selling the car for a profit. I have known people to purchase a car, have the seller sign and say that they (the buyer) are going to be titling it under their "insert friend or family member here" and walk away with an open title. Then, to save money and time titling it, they "flip" the car quickly and it never shows up as having another owner.

There could be many different reasons for this.

One could be that some states only allow an individual to sell X amount of cars before they have to be a licensed dealer. Some "dealers" funnel cars through other owners.

Did you see the car at this person's house? Or did you meet at some other location (so you won't be able to find him if something goes wrong)?

cap10ga said: He may also just be selling the car for a profit. I have known people to purchase a car, have the seller sign and say that they (the buyer) are going to be titling it under their "insert friend or family member here" and walk away with an open title. Then, to save money and time titling it, they "flip" the car quickly and it never shows up as having another owner.

I could not have worded this any better. Many people do this and flip out cars and make money (Not just dealers/mechanics/fly by night fixers). The biggest problem is if there are any issues with the title the buyer has to run from piller to post to get it taken care of. Personally I would not buy a car from a curbstoner. In my previous purchases I have made sure that I check the id of the person selling it.

I had to do this for my gf's sister recently. She was going away and didn't have time to deal with it before she left. The car was registered in OR and I live and was planning on selling the car in WA. I called up both DMVs and they confirmed that as long as I get a notarised letter from her saying the she gives me right of attorney to sell it, then there's no difference between me selling it than if it was my own car.

Sale of the car went through smoothly even with my signature on the Bill of Sale and her's on the title. I even messed up the addresses as she had been moving around and only partially updated her records.

Can you do it, yes..

However, it there is any one small slip up on that title or the transfer paperwork, it can become a nightmare...
The other issue is if the title was dated, you might get fined for failure to register it in a timely manner.

I'm a fan of curbstoners - the "dealer" industry is a racket and has lobbyist that make sure you can't do what a dealer does.. After all, they need to buy cars below market, mark them up, and sell them to you. Anyone that things that most small used car dealerships do reasonable due dilligence needs a mental health check.

The "legal" way to do this in my state is to grant the party doing the actual sale of the car a power of attorney on that vehicle. This way he/she can clear up any mistakes and has the right to fix paperwork...

Funny, a power of attorney in my state doesn't require a notary.. So the only people you're hassling are the HONEST ones.

I am meeting the person at their own residence (which I confimed on the county auditor site ), so I would know where they live. They are getting a power of attorney though to make it an easier transaction so I think all is well.



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