> Transferring Ownership
You've found a buyer for your car and you have agreed on a price, now it's time to complete the sale. Closing the deal and transferring ownership is fairly straightforward, but you will need to do a bit of legwork in advance to ensure things go smoothly.
Start with the DMV
Since requirements and acceptable documents can vary from state to state, consult our list of State Motor Vehicle Websites to find the website for your state's DMV and then review the process to transfer ownership on its site.
For more details on the documentation for transferring ownership, read Paperwork to Close the Deal.
If You Owe Money on Your Car
If you are still in a lease, you'll need to start with your leasing company to find out what your options are. They vary by company; be sure to get specifics in writing.
Once you have the title, you can proceed with the sale. If your buyer is paying by check, be sure to confirm with the bank issuing the check that the funds are available to help reduce your chances of being a victim of fraud. If your lender isn't local, another option is to use an escrow service to complete the transaction. Only use a service you are familiar with and have researched thoroughly, however, as some of these companies are running scams.
For more tips on preventing fraud while closing the deal, read Fraud: Protect Yourself.
If the Buyer Is Out of Town
In most states, it is possible to transfer ownership with a long-distance buyer. If you choose to do so, be sure to document everything carefully, get any agreements notarized by both parties, and confirm the payment is secure before signing the title or giving the keys to a third party.
Closing the Deal
Make sure the payment for the car has been secured and then sign over the title and other documentation to complete the sale. Depending on your state, you may or may not need to remove the license plates, so have a screwdriver handy to complete that task if necessary. Once the sale is complete and your buyer has left with your car, contact your insurance company to have the vehicle removed from the policy.
Tara Baukus Mello is a freelance automotive writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications including Woman's Day and The New York Times.