Author Topic: How to handle the actual money transaction when buying/selling a car privately?  (Read 9466 times)

pinkfloyd4ever

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This is my first time selling a car privately so Iím a little weary of the actual money transaction. My biggest concern is with selling, specifically that I actually get all the money agreed upon. Do you meet at your bank and insist that the buyer pay 100% of it in cash? That seems the safest but itís also a little risky to ask him/her to carry around $10,000 cash.

Also, how can I ensure that Iím not going to get mugged, left without a car & out $10,000 when Iím buying? Just meet at the bank during daylight hours?

How have some of you more experienced done it?

Mr.Tako

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Cashier's check from a real (well known) bank.  Don't take a personal check.  I had a friend who accepted a check for his car once....and of course it was a fake check.

terran

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All the cars I've bought or sold have been in the $3000-5000 range, so never as much as $10,000. It's always been at my house or there house and in cash. Seller counts the cash, signs the title and people are on their way. I think doing the initial meeting and a test drive in a public place is a good idea, but hopefully they don't sketch you out and you feel comfortable with them coming to your house. The last car I sold was to a college kid with his dad and uncle along, and they all seemed like good people, so I wasn't worried. For a larger amount I might consider having them bring a bank check and meet me at my bank so I could cash it and know it cleared.

therethere

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This made me nervous when I bought my car on craigslist too. For selling the car I made sure they handed me a certified check. The guy that bought my car was from a legit company so I also had his business name and address.

When I bought a car, I took 8k out in cash. I was extremely nervous carrying that much money home from the bank! I brought 2 men with me and a third party knew the address and contact info of the people we were buying it off of. They counted up the cash, signed over the title, and then it was over.

I read the safest way is to work with certified checks and handover the title directly at your bank. There's security, they can verify the funds, its a neutral place that makes the most sense to me.

I would say the biggest hassle is dealing with people who still have a lien on the car. That to me seems more risky than walking around with cash for a few blocks. If you're buying a car ensure the seller actually has the title IN THEIR HAND (means the lien is paid off). If its not, they will want to send in your money to pay off the lien, the title would be sent to them, then you'd have to meet again to sign it over. This sounds too sticky for me to get into. So its one of questions I ask directly upfront prior to even meeting the person. Ask directly multiple times. Sometimes people are so desperate to sell their car they lie and say they have it in hand. Then when you actually bring the cash to buy the car their story changes and they just wasted everyone's time.

v8rx7guy

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I always give the buy the option to buy with cash or cashier's check from a well-known bank.  I have actually found demanding cash can ruin a deal because first it makes the buyer defensive and second it can be a mental thing that they feel more inclined to back out when they see what a giant stack of benjamins they're about to hand over!  You should be getting the person's name and address for reporting the sale, so be sure to ask for their valid state ID to write down their full name, address, drivers license number, etc.  The police can easily track someone down by this info in the highly unlikely situation where you are handed a fake cahsier's check.  I like to do my deals at the bank and they can verify funds almost immediately too.

Good Luck!  It's not as bad as you think.  The most expensive car I have sold is $22K yikes!

Cathy

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Cashier's check from a real (well known) bank.  Don't take a personal check.  I had a friend who accepted a check for his car once....and of course it was a fake check.

If somebody is willing to give you a fraudulent personal check, they can also give you a fraudulent cashier's check. The fact that a document purports to be a cashier's check does not mean that it is actually a cashier's check. A quick search reveals many cases where somebody used a bogus cashier's check to "purchase" a car. In one case heard by the Colorado Supreme Court, West v. Roberts, 143 P 3d 1037 (2006), the seller of the car was basically completely screwed because, after the seller gave up the car in exchange for the bogus cashier's check, the fraudster sold the car to another person. The Colorado courts found that, in Colorado, the original owner could not get the car back from the innocent third party:

               Kenneth James West relinquished his car in exchange for a cashier's check that appeared valid, but which thereafter proved to be a worthless counterfeit. When he later located the car in the possession of a subsequent purchaser, Tammy Roberts, West sued to recover the car...

The trial court found that the UCC ... entitled Roberts, as a good faith purchaser for value, to retain ownership of the car. On appeal, the district court, acting as an appellate court, upheld the trial court's decision.... [W]e affirm the district court and hold that Tammy Roberts, as a good faith purchaser for value, obtained good title to the car.
West, 143 P 3d at 1038.

A safer way to conduct a large-dollar transaction is to use an escrow service, similar to the services frequently used for the purchase and sale of land.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 06:01:14 PM by Cathy »

TrMama

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Are e-transfers a thing in the US? The last car I sold, the buyer paid part with cash and the rest via e-transfer. We just exchanged email addresses, he sent me the money and then we sat in the driveway for 5 min waiting for the transfer to finish. As soon as I had the confirmation, I handed him the keys.

Threshkin

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Cash. Cash Cash.

Do not trust any form of check.  Cashier's checks are no more secure than any other check.

Do not go alone, on either side of the transaction.

If you are still uncomfortable, meet at a bank, your's or the other party's.  The lobby of a police station works as well.

For very large transactions, use a wire transfer.  They may be free to send at your bank and should always be free to receive (if not, you need a new bank)  IMO $10K is not large but your opinion may differ.

Make two receipts, one for each party.  Insist that details from both parties driver's licenses are on the receipts.  Photo copies are best.  Agree to this in advance of meeting for the transaction.  If the other party objects, back away back away.

cars+FIRE

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Cash. Cash Cash.

Do not trust any form of check.  Cashier's checks are no more secure than any other check.

Do not go alone, on either side of the transaction.

If you are still uncomfortable, meet at a bank, your's or the other party's.  The lobby of a police station works as well.

For very large transactions, use a wire transfer.  They may be free to send at your bank and should always be free to receive (if not, you need a new bank)  IMO $10K is not large but your opinion may differ.

Make two receipts, one for each party.  Insist that details from both parties driver's licenses are on the receipts.  Photo copies are best.  Agree to this in advance of meeting for the transaction.  If the other party objects, back away back away.

Agree.  Cash or a transaction at the bank are the only two ways to do this safely.  I typically also only sell cars below $10k in value (and therefore via cash) but the one time I did sell a car in the ~$20k range, it worked out that we both used the same bank so it was just an account to account transfer, handled at a local branch.  Very painless.

clifp

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I've sold a couple of cars via Craigslist in the 10K range. I took cash both times, but I was willing to take a cashier check.  I didn't realize that cashier checks could be forged. But of course money can be counterfeited so nothing is truly safe.  Maybe bitcoin :-)

Even with a cashiers check, I would definitely demand to see a couple of forms of ID. Personal checks are definitely out, but overall the chance of being ripped off are pretty low.

Paul der Krake

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The problem with using a bank lobby is that it basically forces both parties to meet during business hours, Monday to Friday. Unless the seller has one of the few banks with locations open on Saturday.

You can also meet at the buyer's bank and witness his bank issue the cashier's check. Not only it's the only way if you only have an online checking account with no local presence, but it also gets rid of the fraudulent check issue. You are still bound to the buyer's bank hours, however.

BDWW

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Are e-transfers a thing in the US? The last car I sold, the buyer paid part with cash and the rest via e-transfer. We just exchanged email addresses, he sent me the money and then we sat in the driveway for 5 min waiting for the transfer to finish. As soon as I had the confirmation, I handed him the keys.

There's always bitcoin, 20 minutes get you 2 layers of confirmation.

v8rx7guy

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Someone could also hand you counterfeit cash... so how much more secure is that?

Clean Shaven

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Cashier's checks can be forged also. IMHO best option is to complete all paperwork at buyer's bank, have buyer have teller issue bank check on confirmed funds directly to seller. This assures that the check is not forged and funds are present.

Also, when I've done this, the bank has always been willing to make some photocopies of the sale documents, so both parties have a set. Convenient.

sol

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Are e-transfers a thing in the US?

They weren't, when I last bought or sold a car, so I always dealt in cash on the barrel head.

But now?  Now electronic transfers are essentially instantaneous.  My last rental tenant paid her security deposit with her phone while we sat in a starbucks, and it was in my account by the time I drove home and checked.  I suspect e-transfers will make these kinds of transactions much more simple in the future, assuming you're willing to exchange email addresses.


Louisville

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Always do the transaction sitting at the BMV (or DMV, or whatever your state calls their car titling and licensing authority) sitting in front of a clerk. That way there is no problem with the title transfer, left over taxes, notary stamps, etc., etc. No surprises.
Always insist on cash. Period. And get the cash, too, while you're sitting in front of the BMV clerk.
Take someone with you. You need a ride home anyway because you've bought the car with you so the buyer can drive away with it.
If you have a buyer that won't agree to any of these things, tell them (politely) to fuck off. Another buyer will be along soon. Also, buyer from another state? Fuck off, that involves another state government and you can't sit in front of two BMV clerks at the same time. You'll find another, in state, buyer shortly.
This advice formulated over about dozen private car sales transactions, being on both sides, and experiencing a number of mishaps.

snappytom

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Cash is King.  Last purchase we made was from a local guy who was very upfront and reasonable.  Offered to have him meet at a local Chase branch where we would have the bank hand him a check in his name, or cash.  He preferred cash brought to him at his house.  Turns out he was a bank teller at one time and said when counting large sums to always look at the pictures on the bills to verify the value.  He has seen many people try to alter the numbers on bills in large stacks since that is what most people look at when counting.

snogirl

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I meet at my bank and ask for cash.
Sold many cars and toys this way.
Works every time!
Give title and bill of sale & write as is.
If they do not want to do this, I do not sell them whatever it is I'm selling.
If they want to give me a bank check, I meet at their bank, cash check & get one in my name.
Go to my bank.

spruce

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I've done it at my house and at a bank, depending. I've never bought/sold for more than $4,000, so it's never on the scale you're talking about. But I have bought/sold off craigslist 5 times and never had an issue with sketchy people or fraud.

In NC you need a notary to sign the title transfer, so a bank makes it really easy to do it all in one place.

pinkfloyd4ever

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Thanks for the input everyone! I'll ask them to meet at my bank when I buy & meet at theirs when I sell.

captainawesome

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I'd say cash is king, but I've dealt in certified checks and cashiers checks as well when I have sold cars.  It makes it easier when dealing with Cash, but getting anything over 5k is a little sketch for me personally.  I have done a cash/check combo as well from a buyer, in which I held onto the title until the buyer's check cleared.  Escrow is a good way to have that done for you, and ensures everyone gets what they are after.

Jack

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The problem with using a bank lobby is that it basically forces both parties to meet during business hours, Monday to Friday. Unless the seller has one of the few banks with locations open on Saturday.

You can also meet at the buyer's bank and witness his bank issue the cashier's check. Not only it's the only way if you only have an online checking account with no local presence, but it also gets rid of the fraudulent check issue. You are still bound to the buyer's bank hours, however.

The last time I bought a car was on a Saturday morning, and by the time I finished inspecting, test-driving and talking to the seller about it we realized the bank had closed. I was annoyed at the realization I'd have to come back on Monday or something, but the seller accepted a personal check.

(It probably helped that it was only a $3.6K transaction, that I found out about the sale through a niche method rather than something public like Craigslist, and that he could tell my interest was genuine as a "car guy" and not some sketchy character looking to make a quick buck flipping it or something.)

Kaikou

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made plans to meet at my bank. Had the teller count out the cash to the seller. Had them notarize our signatures on the title. Drove him his bank a couple blocks away to deposit the money.

We also went to the license plate place and had lunch together (THIS IS NOT THE NORM!!)

If someone is not willing to meet at the bank, I'm not going to buy sorry.

Gevans17

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cashier's check and always do it at a title transfer office. that way I know the vehicle is out of my name.