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Brock Samson 06-10-2010 05:16 PM

Long distance, private party used car purchase
I'm buying a car from a private party over 2500 miles away- Not only is this the first private party purchase I've ever made, I decided to make it extra difficult with the distance.

I'm not planning on flying out to see the vehicle, I don't have the time off work.

anyway, things I already know:

-I have the money on hand to purchase with
-pre-purchase mechanical inspection

Any help on how to deal with the title, bill of sale, plates, etc would be much, much appreciated. Car is in GA and I'm in WA.


Fee 06-11-2010 08:48 AM

Hey, that's a monumental adventure you are talking about IMO lol. Buying a car is stressful enough to me, but add that distance and my stomach is twisting just thinking about it. My first advice is to wait for a local one to become available. Even though this car you are looking at seems like it's the best option, IMO it's better to wait for something 500mi or less away.

With that being said and you are dead set on buying that one, first thing I would do is contact your DMV and find out what you need for temp plates. GA state troopers are no joke and are just waiting to pull you over, nevermind the several other states you have to drive through.

The title should be no prob, they should have a clean one with no liens on it. Here in NY you just fill out the back and both sign it and you submit it to the DMV who mails you a new one in your name. Bill of sale is easy too, just google it and there are several forms to choose from, print it out and bring it along.

But again, my best advice is to wait for something local. There is nothing fun about buying a car 2500mi away IMO, but to each his own lol.

dmanaenk 06-11-2010 09:41 AM

You'll get raped!

Oh wait, I did that few months ago, does it mean I got raped? Anyhow, this might be useful. And actual details will depend on specifics: Is there a lien on the car, if so - where's the title. It might make sense to do a transaction via Ebay, so that there are some protection policies at work. Or even though you have cash - to do it through a bank.

John M 06-11-2010 09:52 AM

Wow, my personal distance record for a sight-unseen car purchase is Chicago :D

In GA, the seller keeps the plate so you'll have to make your own "TAG APPLIED FOR" placeholder for the trip home. I usually print one out in Word and use packing tape to waterproof it -- a poor man's laminate.

Does the seller have the title or is the car financed? If a bank holds the title I pay for the car with a cashier's check made out to both the seller AND the lienholder. The seller signs the check, gives it to the lienholder, and they send the title to me. If they have the title already, they need to sign the transfer info on the back of it. It must be done in ink and ANY alterations on the back will void the transfer. I've never used an escrow service.

You'll have to write out a bill of sale. It simply needs to state that on this date, seller agrees to sell a 200X Subaru Legacy GT to buyer, as-is, where-is. Print two copies so you'll each have one. This (and the title if available) will be your proof of purchase while you drive the car home.

Where is the car in GA? Odds are good that one of us is close enough to look at it for you.

Brock Samson 06-13-2010 11:29 PM

Couple of notes:

Found this car on this forum. I really would like to buy more locally, but thats basically not possible- Subarus in the Pacific Northwest demand an automatic 15% (or more) premium. Then there is my finickiness- I want a 5MT LGT wagon, non LTD (I could budge on the LTD thing, and I suppose if I found the right OBXT that could work, but they seem to demand another premium). Finally, I want something with low miles.

Next, I will be shipping the car via a commercial truck, so plates aren't so much an issue. I'm more interested in how to deal with the title (which is lien free) and any other issues that might spring up. The internet appears to be sadly missing any really good directions on how to deal with this sort of transaction in a straightforward way.


Drift Motion 06-13-2010 11:47 PM

try to go on a weekday, or have the seller get you a temporary permit so you can drive it home

Fee 06-14-2010 06:48 AM

The title transfer should be one of the easier things you are going to be dealing with. It's really just a matter of filling out the reverse side, and as someone else mentioned be very careful when you fill it out. Any mistakes or cross outs etc will void the title and the owner would have to apply for another.

But the thing is even if you plan on having the car shipped you still have to get it to the company that will get it to your home state. Unles of course you arrange to meet at the trucking company and you can just hand it over to them after the sale is final.

Make sure you find a good bill of sale online to print out and bring along. You are going to have to pay tax on the purchase once you try and register the car (at least that's how it is in NY). I don't know if your state uses the bill of sale, or just the info on the reverse side of the title.

Is this car modified? I know it seems like there will never be a LGT available close by, or it seems like they are much more there, but IMO that premium is well worth it when compared to the crosscountry used car purchase.

Brock Samson 06-23-2010 05:10 PM

UPDATE for anyone interested.

Wrapping up this purchase now, it has been a mind-bending pain in the ass. I'll post some lessons I've learned after I get back with the car.

GrouchieGrumbles 06-24-2010 12:16 PM

So did you buy it sight unseen and have it shipped to your door? You must be a hell of a gambling man... Guy I bought my car off of told me it only had a couple of dings and when I got there it was 20+ dents.. pictures didnt show it either...

Hope it all works out for you!

toshiba2.5 06-24-2010 01:10 PM

I went to kansas to buy mine and I didnt even get good clear pictures I just took a gamble and went for it..thank god everything the guy said was true about the car

Brock Samson 06-25-2010 10:52 AM

I abandoned the plan to do this purchase sight unseen- This transaction was a real bear to deal with too, the seller has been very paranoid about cashier's check fraud. So instead of paying escrow fees and transport of the car, my wife and I are flying out to pick it up.

Shockingly, one of the things I've learned is that it is easierif the car you're buying has a lien from a bank still on it. Then the your bank can talk to the seller's bank and get things organized between them. Keeps you and the seller (and your weird quirks) out of the process.

The other easy way to deal with this would be to have cash on hand, and use to complete the transaction. Had I known this would improve the process so much I would have said 'screw the credit rating' and done it this way.

I did have a independent mechanic do an inspection of the car and take a bunch of close-up photos of different problem areas, and then spent a good amount of time on the phone with them talking about different issues with the car. Everything jived with what the seller had indicated. Of course, there's no way for me to know if the seller just slipped the mechanics a couple hundos to agree with him.

Anyway, I'll see the car tomorrow. Even if it isn't as advertised, given the price point of the car, the # of miles(low!), and general condition (also its rarity- not a whole lot of 5MT LGT non-LTD wagons out there) I can probably resell it for a profit in our rock-hard PNW Subaru market.

John M 06-25-2010 12:57 PM

Two banks still could have verified everything was ok. His bank could call the issuer of the cashier's check to verify its authenticity. For anyone that didn't know, you can't get a refund on a cashier's check without returning it to the bank. You lose it, it's your tough luck -- no excuses or stories to make the check void. Once it's issued, it's valid.

My brother bought a Supra from a guy who was this paranoid. He actually suggested we take a bag of cash to FL to buy the car. Yeah, right! We ended up doing a wire transfer while at the seller's bank so he knew when it was credited.

Brock Samson 06-29-2010 12:34 AM

His bank (Wachovia now Wells Fargo) would only verify their own cashier's checks, which seemed to be a common thread with other banks I called while figuring this thing out.

bag of cash LOL....hold on while I check this giant wad of $100's in my luggage.

05GTWagon5MT4Sale 07-12-2010 07:23 PM

Please allow the mind-bending PITA bear to provide some context:

A truly paranoid person wouldn't have done business with someone with the buyer's pseudonym and avatar, but the buyer kept asking questions indicating that he was a serious prospective buyer such that we maintained communication.

And what the buyer regards as paranoia, I regard as due diligence. Cashier's check fraud is real (a coworker of mine almost got burned by one since they can look like the real thing and even fool bankers), and I wasn't about to hand over the my title and keys to a complete stranger for a worthless piece of paper. Furthermore, it turns out that the depositor is on the hook for a counterfeit cashier's check, and I wasn't about to put myself in that position.

Both parties in a vehicle sale bear some risk, not just the buyer. Had we conducted the transaction through as originally agreed, we both would have had an easier time and felt more at ease with the transaction since that service protects both parties. Since the buyer's bank in TX doesn't allow the use of an escrow service, we had to figure out some other way of transferring funds. I had given the buyer several other options such as Federal Reserve Funds wire transfer, cashier's check drawn on a bank with branches in GA (a least a few with branches in both WA and GA), and, yes, cold hard cash. Laugh about cash if you like, but I'll accept greenbacks any day.

Unfortunately, buyer in WA was locked into his own bank in TX which would disburse funds only in the form of a cashier's check. To make things even more complicated (more complicated than an out of state buyer with a check issued from a bank in yet another state), the check was going to be "sponsored" by a different bank. Does that sound fishy to you? I talked with representatives of both banks, and at first, none of them had heard of such an arrangement. So, you might understand if I was being difficult with the buyer for which I make no apologies. Fortunately, the buyer provided evidence of his real identity as well as a scanned image of the cashier's check that I was able to use to verify with his bank.

Both of us had something to lose in the sale, and both of us had to work hard to make it happen. We both learned a lot, but probably neither of us would care to repeat the experience.

So let the buyer beware and seller beware, too.

mclarenf3 07-12-2010 09:14 PM

Good posts. I like that both parties were able to post their perspective on the deal.

Being in the North West (well, South West in Canada, North West to you yanks), I also saw this same situation where there is a huge demand and small supply of Subaru Leggy's and Outbacks. That just drives the price of existing ones up. I ended up waiting, but was tempted to do a long distance purchase from a Subaru Dealership 1000 km's away.

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