As I shared with you a few weeks ago, I recently bought a new-to-me car. Everything went just dandy with the transaction, exceeeeept at the end. I conveniently left it out of the original post since it was still unresolved, but I'm here to share the gory (okay, exaggeration) details now.
We left off with Step 10: Register it. Seemingly an easy step, right? Well, it should be...
Let me flash back to the fateful day. Friday, May 24. I had just finished the pre-purchase inspection, gotten the cashier's check, and had traveled back to the seller's house to exchange my brand new car (!!!!) for a big ol' check. He took the plates off the car and went inside to grab the title. He came back outside and handed it over to me, with one passing comment: "Oh, just to let you know, we accidentally filled out this box right here. We crossed it out though, and initialed the error, so you should be good."
I shrugged the comment off and got in that glorious car and drove it straight to the DMV with all the papers in my hand. [Enter 2 hour wait... ughhh] As soon as they saw the title, it all went downhill. That little oops-we-accidentally-filled-in-this-box was a deal breaker, in DMV land. I had to come back with a clean title in order to register the car. SERIOUSLY?!
So back home I go, excitement over the new car completely zapped. I wrote an email to the seller and explained the situation. Luckily, he sprung into action to request a new title*. Unfortunately, he needed the original title. [Enter in 1 day of waiting to be able to meet up and hand over said title]. Then, he had to go to the DMV, in person, and request a replacement title. [Enter 1 more day of waiting for him to be able to go to the DMV]. After handing over the title and requesting the new one, it would be 10 days before the new title would be mailed to him. [Enter 10 day wait]
*I suppose at this point I should also include that the "seller" I refer to was not actually the owner of the car. The real owner is living in Germany, and asked her friend to sell the car for her. So to add one more wrinkle to the story, the man I was dealing with had to work as a middle man to request a new title on behalf of his friend in Germany. I think some power of attorney papers were worked up, something ridiculously complicated. Glad I wasn't part of that debacle, at least...
I patiently (not so much) wait for the new title to arrive. FINALLY, I get the text! "I have the title" he says! Ahh, much rejoicing. We set plans to meet up the following day. 5 minutes later I receive a terrible text...
He had signed the title in the wrong place, ruining yet another title!
I wish I was kidding. It was not funny at the time. It is significantly more funny now. :)
Back to the waiting game. Again, he requests a new title (this time online, so that saved a bit of time) and it comes within about 5 days. We meet up again and I finally get that title in my hands. And breathe a huge sigh of relief.
I mean, technically he had all my money and I had a car that really didn't even belong to me! If he was a shiesty person he could have totally taken all my money and disappeared. Scary.
The last few steps were a (relative) breeze: I had to get the car inspected, because it didn't have a valid inspection. And yes, you must do this before you take it to the DMV to register it if there is no valid inspection! Then I went back over to do some more DMV-waiting. Soon enough I was up at the counter, sweating bullets, nervous that they'd find something else wrong. But luckily, nothing was wrong this time and I left with a registration and shiny new plates. Success!
If I can pass along anything to you from this story... ANYTHING... it is that you inspect the title before you hand over the check. If there is even one teeny tiny little problem wrong with that fancy piece of paper, ask the seller to request a new one. Or ask them to accompany you to the DMV where you can find out if they will accept the title! Tell the seller that you'll hand over the check as soon as you know that the registration is good. It was the worst feeling in the world to think that the seller had all my money, and I had an unregistered car with no valid title. So many bad things could have happened-- I'm incredibly luckily that the situation ended as happily as it did!
Any other advice for used car buyers? Have you run into a tricky problem like this? Share your story!!