Internet Purchase of Automobile

We are having more clients purchase cars off of the internet and although it will be even more common in the future there are certain things that a would be purchaser should be aware of before pulling the trigger.   Today I will talk about what is the most important when it comes to registering a car in MA, verifying that there is a title for you to take possession of at the time of the sale.   Here are two recent examples that we have dealt with.

We had a client buy a car from a dealer in TX.  He saw the car on the internet and negotiated the purchase on line.  He then went to TX to see the car before he paid for it.  The dealer even gave the client TX temp tags while awaiting for the car to be registered in MA.  The client notified us so we could secure the coverage.  The dealer also said that they had a service that would register the car in MA.  So far, so good.  What the client didn’t know is that the dealer was waiting on a new title from the TX DMV with a prior lien removed .  I explained to the client that the car could not be registered in MA without the new TX title.  As you may have guessed it took almost two months for the title to make its way to MA and the car to get registered.  In the meantime the insurance company had run out of patience and was moving to cancel the insurance on the vehicle.  The title arrived in a nick of time.

In the second instance we had a client purchase a car over the internet from a private party in South Carolina.  In this case, the seller could not locate the original title but had a copy that they provided to the client.  Unfortunately for this client the MA RMV will not issue a new MA title on any car unless there is a valid title surrendered in its place.  So this client is waiting for the seller to get a valid SC title so that he can sign it over to our client and we can then register the car.  In the meantime the car is sitting at the client’s house unused.

My intention here is not to persuade anyone from buying a car online.  Rather it is to remind everyone that after you have decided that you want to buy a car make sure that there is a valid title for you to take possession of at the time of the sale.  This is true anytime that you are buying a car whether on line or not.  However, I emphasize it on internet sales because those sales are not necessarily local sales, i.e. TX or SC, and could take longer to rectify.