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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What is the safest way to receive funds from buyer (cash, bank check, cashiers, etc?) for a California car sell ... and exactly when do I sign over title?
 

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The safest way? Either a bank wire transfer or a cashier's check traded in the bank lobby so you can verify the funds. You hand over title when the transaction clears. If it's cash, straight away. For cashier's check payments, depending on the car's value if I give them the title or not. I've never been burned by a bad cashier's check. It's a rare thing, but possible. If we're talking a cheap 10-15k beater, I won't care. But if it was $100,000, I'd give them a bill of sale and a We Owe form that says title will be shipped certified mail once the funds clear.
 

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What is the safest way to receive funds from buyer (cash, bank check, cashiers, etc?) for a California car sell ... and exactly when do I sign over title?
I usually meet the buyer at his bank and draw on the cashier's check directly. I then invite the buyer to meet up at the nearest Automobile Club of So. California (AAA) office to transfer title and get the car out of my name. ACSC offices handle DMV transactions with no appointment required. If you don't have a AAA membership, I'd recommend getting one before you sell your Hellcat. You only need the membership, you don't have to buy their insurance. Transactions are cash or debit card, credit cards will not be accepted. This ensures the buyer will not procrastinate on this often overlooked transaction, especially when the sales tax, license, and transfer fees project to be in the thousands. It's a high performance car and the last thing you want is for the new owner to get involved in an accident while the car remains registered under your name.

Afterwards, call your insurance agent to request removal of your sold Hellcat from your policy. Also send an email to your insurance company (include the VIN) and likewise declare the car is no longer under your ownership and to remove from your policy. This gives you a dated document disavowing your legal interest in the sold vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Great instructions.
Please explain "draw on the cashier's check directly". Do you mean the buyer has the bank issue a check directly to me? If so, I assume that means instant clearence of funds?
 

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Great instructions.
Please explain "draw on the cashier's check directly". Do you mean the buyer has the bank issue a check directly to me? If so, I assume that means instant clearence of funds?
The check should already be made out to you. Before you sign over the pink slip, go with the buyer to his bank and cash the check, or arrange to have his/her bank transfer the amount to your bank account (you will need your checking account and bank routing numbers). While not common, even cashiers checks can be fabricated.
 

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What is the safest way to receive funds from buyer (cash, bank check, cashiers, etc?) for a California car sell ... and exactly when do I sign over title?
Wire Transfer is the safest & the funds are available immediately. The sending bank obviously has the confirmed funds before the Wire can occur & the receiving bank knows this. You only need to talk to your bank, get the exact Wire Numbers for Bank & your Account and then give it to the other party for their bank. There's ~ a $40 Fee, but worth the piece of mind. At that point, you can sign over the title with the cash in your bank. I do all this on both ends when I flip houses.
 

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I usually meet the buyer at his bank and draw on the cashier's check directly. I then invite the buyer to meet up at the nearest Automobile Club of So. California (AAA) office to transfer title and get the car out of my name. ACSC offices handle DMV transactions with no appointment required. If you don't have a AAA membership, I'd recommend getting one before you sell your Hellcat. You only need the membership, you don't have to buy their insurance. Transactions are cash or debit card, credit cards will not be accepted. This ensures the buyer will not procrastinate on this often overlooked transaction, especially when the sales tax, license, and transfer fees project to be in the thousands. It's a high performance car and the last thing you want is for the new owner to get involved in an accident while the car remains registered under your name.

Afterwards, call your insurance agent to request removal of your sold Hellcat from your policy. Also send an email to your insurance company (include the VIN) and likewise declare the car is no longer under your ownership and to remove from your policy. This gives you a dated document disavowing your legal interest in the sold vehicle.
I'm not sure if it's the same in Cali or not, but in Florida, when I sell a car, I take the plate off after the deal is closed and then hop straight to the tax collector's office (they do license tags here) and report the sale. That removes my ownership of the vehicle. It's basically the same process that occurs if you trade a car in at a dealership. When they do the title and registration work, they report the sale and clear you off of the car, then register the new one.

I could care less if they pay the taxes or not. Not my circus, not my monkeys. So long's I get paid.
 

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Here's how one of the more popular cashier's check scams work:

They draw a cashier's check from their bank. Then, they mobile deposit the check into another account after 5pm.The check is usually issued by a small, local bank that doesn't have 24/7 service, and they'll try and do the deal after 5pm. If you try and call and validate the check, their system likely won't show the deposit yet, since they're closed. By the time your bank figures it out (1-2 business days), they've closed out their old account that may have been opened under a false or stolen identity. They then sell that car without paying any of the taxes and without registering it. Bonus points if they sell it across state lines as it's harder to track down the title work. Often times, they'll insist that the car sells for cash only, so again they don't have to generate a paper trail. Once it trades hands once or twice, the car is difficult to title as nobody has paid taxes on it and the last known owner is the guy trying to find the phantom(s) that gave him a bad check.

You see this scam a LOT on FB marketplace. Look for people selling relatively cheap, 5-10 year old cars without a title, but are very open about having a bill of sale available. These are usually either stolen, fraudulently traded, or somehow scammed away from a previous owner. FWIW, if someone doesn't have the title and it's not a 15+ year old car, make sure you at least get an official replacement title application or whatever document your state uses, as they have to pay the taxes and register the vehicle to get that. Offering a bill of sale is meaningless and should be seen as, "hey, I don't legally own this and I don't want to pay taxes on it." Thus, it is technically illegal to buy or sell and titling the car may be difficult or impossible.

If I get a cashier's check, similar to what several folks have said here, I either take it to their bank and cash it, or I take them to mine. I deposit the check after having them sit with the notary to notarize the bill of sale (and professionally validate their identity and bank info).

One important note here... most cashier's checks are not made immediately available. Even from your own bank. If I draw a cashier's check and then try to deposit it into the same account, it still takes me a business day if done after 2pm (Wells Fargo). I'm sure banks are different, but mine operates that way. Basically, when they generate the check, it goes into a sort of escrow account. When you deposit it again, it still has to be processed and pulled from that escrow and put back into your account, so it's like passing a normal check, only that if it's a legit check, it's guaranteed.

Lastly, when handling cashier's checks, make sure it's from a legit bank. There's contact info on the check (usually on the back) where you can call and verify the funds/validity.
 
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I'm not sure if it's the same in Cali or not, but in Florida, when I sell a car, I take the plate off after the deal is closed and then hop straight to the tax collector's office (they do license tags here) and report the sale. That removes my ownership of the vehicle. It's basically the same process that occurs if you trade a car in at a dealership. When they do the title and registration work, they report the sale and clear you off of the car, then register the new one.

I could care less if they pay the taxes or not. Not my circus, not my monkeys. So long's I get paid.
I do the same in Louisiana, nobody gets my plate, it stays with me and then is turned in by me to the DMV so the buyer can't ride around for however long he wants on my plate. But California I believe is different, the plate stays with the car and I don't like that.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
 

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The safest way? Either a bank wire transfer or a cashier's check traded in the bank lobby so you can verify the funds. You hand over title when the transaction clears. If it's cash, straight away. For cashier's check payments, depending on the car's value if I give them the title or not. I've never been burned by a bad cashier's check. It's a rare thing, but possible. If we're talking a cheap 10-15k beater, I won't care. But if it was $100,000, I'd give them a bill of sale and a We Owe form that says title will be shipped certified mail once the funds clear.

False, cashier check forging IS NOT a rare thing..
 

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I'm not sure if it's the same in Cali or not, but in Florida, when I sell a car, I take the plate off after the deal is closed and then hop straight to the tax collector's office (they do license tags here) and report the sale. That removes my ownership of the vehicle. It's basically the same process that occurs if you trade a car in at a dealership. When they do the title and registration work, they report the sale and clear you off of the car, then register the new one.

I could care less if they pay the taxes or not. Not my circus, not my monkeys. So long's I get paid.
Similar. Once California DMV transfers title, the car is out of your name. Title transfer can't be completed until the new buyer pays tax, title, and registration which is why I recommend accompanying the new owner to AAA or the DMV to make sure it gets done. In every case I've done this, the new owner was happy that we could get this done immediately at a local AAA rather than having to make an appointment with the DMV at a later date. I always let the new owner determine what he puts down for the sale price since the DMV double-dips, charging tax on a used car when the original owner already paid tax when the car was new.

At the same time you can request possession or retirement of the plates. If no preference is expressed, the new owner can keep the old plates or request new ones with no additional fees.

If the plates are personalized, they're retired automatically unless you keep them, or the new owner wants to pay $50 for them.
 

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Sold an RV. Buyer gave me a personal check. My bank held the funds for 10 days. I called The Bank of the West in California and wired the payoff amount.
No Bank of the West outlets in Texas to get the paid off title.
No paper title. Electronic title only thru Texas DMV.
Texas DMV has title transfer application since 9/28. DMV said it would take a couple of months to get the paid off title.
DMV told me I should Not have sold the RV without the title.
Catch22..
Needed the funds from the sale to pay off the title.
Buyer is not happy about the delay.
I assume this could happen with an automobile sale. If the lender is out of State.
Is there a easier way to handle this type of transaction?
 
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