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Author Topic: On buying a motorcycle with no title: My experience with Cragislist and PenDOT  (Read 32268 times)

First of all, I'll apologize for the long-winded story that follows. This is the story of how I came to own my CB450. For those who just want the moral of the story, here's a few things I learned from the process.

1. Every motorcycle sold in PA has a title, wheter it came with the bike or not.
2. If you don't have the title, you DO NOT own the bike.
3. If you have the bike but not the title, you CAN get a title, it just takes lots of time, money, and patience.
4. Research local laws regarding title/registration procedures BEFORE any cash leaves your hand. Better yet, make sure you have a title in your hand before you break out the benjamins.

SO anyway, I'd been looking for the "right" bike for a while when I came across a Craigslist posting for a clean, low-milage '73 Honda CB450 in ridable condition. The ad mentioned the lack of a title, but also assured that it was simple to obtain one from Broadway or International Title Service. So I called the number and made an appointment to go check out the bike. The following saturday I drove 70 miles to the guys house, and he shows me the bike, I like it, and we make a deal. He drops the bike off at my house later that day and tells me he'll mail the neccessary forms so I can get a title for it. A week or so goes by with no contact from the seller, so I started researching title and registration laws on the ITS and DMV websites. I come to find out you need a notarized bill of sale from the last REGISTERED owner to obtain a title from a title service like ITS or Broadway. SO I call the guy I bought the bike from and tell him I need a Notarized bill of sale from him, and he says, "why? I never owned the bike, it wouldn't do you any good to have a bill of sale from me". At this point all kinds of negative thoughts start racing through my brain. Did I just buy a stolen bike? Did I just spend good money on a 495 pound paperweight? After I calmed down a little I called my local tag agencey and asked them what I should do. They said that I could possibly track down the last registered owner if he bought/registered the bike in PA by doing a search on the VIN number. So I wrote down the VIN on a piece of paper and hauled ass to the notary before they closed. A VIN search costs $20 in PA, wheter it turns up any results or not. Luckily for me, the search yeilded a previous registered owner in PA, and also showd that the bike was not stolen and had no leins. So now my focus switched to tracking down the previous ACTUAL owner. I used information to get a phone number, but when I called the line was apparently disconnected. The operator tells me there are 2 listings for that name, a Senior and a Junior. the "junior" was listed at age 66, the senior really was a senior at age 93. I gave the "sr."'s number a try and a female voice answered, telling me the sr. was eating supper and couln't come to the phone. When I explained the situation, she told me the Sr was her father, and the Jr, the one who previously owned my bike, passed away 5 years ago. Another seemingly dead end, no pun intended. However, she referred me to the executer of his estate, a cousin, who may have the paperwork for the bike. I tried calling him only to get a voice mailbox, so I left a message explaining the whole situation. 2 days later he calls me back with good news. He has the title, and he'd be happy to send it to me. Now in order to transfer the title of a vehicle in case of death, you need the title, a copy of the death certificate, and form MV-39. The cousin/executor knew all that, having a background in law, so he very helpfully took time out of his schedule to get to a notary and have the title opened so it could be transferred to me. He then mailed it to my house, and from there I was able to get the bike registered. Finally.

So what did I learn from this ordeal? for one thing, I learned I must have some Irish blood in me because I got damn lucky to track down the right people, and those people were extroadinarily helpful through the entire process. But mainly, I learned if you're gonna buy a bike, MAKE SURE it has a clean title in the name of the person you're buying it from.

So that's the story, maybe some of you will find the information here helpful. If not, I hope you enjoyed hearing all about my blind ambition and stupidity. I encourage anyone who is thinking about buying a motorcycle without a title to think seriously about what they want to do with the bike, as you may not be as lucky as I was and will be forced to get bonded title ($$$$), or just customize the f*ck out of it and title it as a custom-assembled vehicle (even more $$).
Some people will tell you that slow is good Ė but Iím here to tell you that fast is better.  Iíve always believed this, in spite of the trouble itís caused me.  Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube.  That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba...

Offline go mama!

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You just earned some major Go! Points. Thank you!!!
"Im tellin ya, you should watch yourself though... Go! will break your heart." VonYinzer
"I looked at her wrong once and she broke my arm." Groovy

Offline VonYinzer

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  • Oh, I got a helmet...
Oh man.
PA.
Fun.
 :P
Nothing personal, but you're an asshole.

Yeah it's been exhausting, but now that it's all titled, plated, and legit it's totally been worth it. I only paid $800 for the bike and spent about 150 in various legal fees and a few odds and ends parts-wise, so I still have less than a grand wrapped up in it. But will I ever buy another bike without a title? Not unless it's strictly going to be a parts bike.
Some people will tell you that slow is good Ė but Iím here to tell you that fast is better.  Iíve always believed this, in spite of the trouble itís caused me.  Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube.  That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba...

Offline VonYinzer

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  • Posts: 16769
  • Oh, I got a helmet...
Makes me feal great about my suzuki... hell it was free. Even with the added expense of trackin this title down, itll be worth it.
Nothing personal, but you're an asshole.

Offline Big Rich

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  • Heaven is so far away.
Thanks for the trip through PA's legal system!

I bought a parts bike for my Suzuki (no title, tires, forks, or seat but everything else) and want to get a title for it in the worst way. I tell all my local friends looking for bikes: without that title, it's almost worthless.

Glad it worked out for you though!

Offline GroovyAardvark

  • Posts: 399
    • 1974 Kawasaki bucket racer build
A good story with a happy result big r! I am glad.

I bought my kawasaki G4 with that had a title, but it was not in the sellers name and it was from UTAH.  It was the original title from 1973. It looked like a pirate map.

He had all the papers and everything, including the previous (titled) owners name, address, phone number and even his signiture on an application for a duplicate title dated a year ago.  I figure what the hell and buy the bike knowing I may have to work to get a title in my name.

So, step one. I do my research....Okay I need the titled owner to sign a piece of paper for me essentially. I figure hell, I will call him mail him the paper and he can mail it back. Total cost? $6....

I call the previous owner. He is a lawyer. I get his voicemail and leave a very polite and detailed measage. "I bought a bike you owned in 1973, I am sure you have fun memories of it, and I am sure you remember the guy you sold it to in PA last year seeing as you gave him paperwork etc etc I would love if you could sign a piece of paper for me and I would be willing to compensate you for your inconvience etc etc'

I get a voicemail in return 2 days later. "I have never owned a motorcycle in my life, I don't know what you are talking about. Good day to you sir"

Which is funny, because I knew he was lying as his name, address, phone number it all matched. It was the same guy. Even his signiture from 1973 looked the same as his one from 2009.

So, where as you got lucky with a very helpful exector of the estate who was willing to go out of his way to help you. I got a jerk who couldn't be bothered making a squiggle with a pen EVEN if I paid him to do it...

My case in point....Boned.

In the end I did get the title but that was by some rather shady avenues.



Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death. -  Hunter S. Thompson

1974 100cc Kawasaki bucket racer build

Offline SrgtBear

  • Posts: 699
  • The arsenic has oddly shaped feet...
I got a similar situation.  This guy sold me the bike.  Said he was selling it for his friend.  His friend's name is on the title and it is signed.  But there is no bill of sale.  I'm thinking I am going to have to track down the previous owner on the title and get some type of bill of sale or is the signed title sufficient?  PS.  This is also a PA (PennDOT) scenario.

Any suggestions?
Ted

Kawasaki Kaiju (怪獣) - 79 KZ650 - In Progress - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=39748.0
75 Yamaha XS500B Cafe - Completed - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=14392.0
74 Honda XL 125 - Original - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=25706.0

Offline GroovyAardvark

  • Posts: 399
    • 1974 Kawasaki bucket racer build
Is the title PA or out of state?

do you have contact details for the titled owner?

Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death. -  Hunter S. Thompson

1974 100cc Kawasaki bucket racer build

Offline SrgtBear

  • Posts: 699
  • The arsenic has oddly shaped feet...
Is the title PA or out of state?

do you have contact details for the titled owner?



Title PA.  No contact info on owner, but I contacted the guy who sold it to me trying to get the title owner's phone number.  The guy who sold it to me is legit.  Owns a shelby cobra and a bunch of vintage TVR's but he was a dick on the phone and said he was busy and he'll have to try to dig up his information.  So I sent him an email waiting for a response...
Ted

Kawasaki Kaiju (怪獣) - 79 KZ650 - In Progress - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=39748.0
75 Yamaha XS500B Cafe - Completed - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=14392.0
74 Honda XL 125 - Original - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=25706.0

Offline GroovyAardvark

  • Posts: 399
    • 1974 Kawasaki bucket racer build
Well you have to wait for this guy to give you contact info.

Then you have to give some sexual favors to get the guy to a title place and sign the title over to you in person. - This is going to be bloody hard to do.

If that is not possible, you will have to try for a dodgy..
Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death. -  Hunter S. Thompson

1974 100cc Kawasaki bucket racer build

Offline SrgtBear

  • Posts: 699
  • The arsenic has oddly shaped feet...
Well you have to wait for this guy to give you contact info.

Then you have to give some sexual favors to get the guy to a title place and sign the title over to you in person. - This is going to be bloody hard to do.

If that is not possible, you will have to try for a dodgy..


that or i can get it notarized if i know somebody....right?
Ted

Kawasaki Kaiju (怪獣) - 79 KZ650 - In Progress - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=39748.0
75 Yamaha XS500B Cafe - Completed - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=14392.0
74 Honda XL 125 - Original - http://www.dotheton.com/forum/index.php?topic=25706.0

Offline GroovyAardvark

  • Posts: 399
    • 1974 Kawasaki bucket racer build
My general theory is that anything is possible, but at any given point they can just pull the rug from under you if its not a 100% perfect legit transfer wrapped in a bow for them.
Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death. -  Hunter S. Thompson

1974 100cc Kawasaki bucket racer build

Offline xholaday40x

  • Posts: 63
Were did you go to find the last owner of the motorcycle
heres a link to my build--- 
http://www.hondatwins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&p=129641

Offline Yendor

  • Posts: 17
I did the APPLY for a Title process in NJ.

It is an Eleven (11) Step process that starts with Title Searches in NJ then 5 surrounding States (CT, NY, PA, DE, MD)and if they all come up Neg they "CAN" but don't always request you expand your search. (Avg $15.00 Each Title Search)

I got lucky and knew the bike came from NC so I added them to the list and they produced a previous owner of record.

One Certified Return Recipt letter to the owner of record notifying thme of my intent to apply for a Title in NJ and on to the next step. ( NJ actuall y provieds a FORM LETTER for this purpose) (less than $5.00 here)

Place an Ad in a Local Newspaper legal Notices section of your intent to appply for a Title with VIN etc. (3) insertation over a Min 2 week span. Get a notorized affidavit from newspaper confirimng the ad and it's content. Approx $65.00

Send a copy of the Notorized Affidavit from Newspaper to Local Chief of Police. another approx less than $5.00

Get notorized letters from (3) friends who will vouch your physically have possesion of vehicle and verify they have seen it. Free if you know a Notary otherwise ?

Fill out several forms including one that says the vehicle is not for resale.

Provide Front Back and (2) side views in picture form. Digital Cameras Cheap

Provide Pencil Tracing &/or photo of stamp VIN on Frame.

Provide a Notorized Bill of Sale from whomever you purchased the bike from.

Send all of this and a check for $65.00 (Don't forget 7% Sales Tax on whatever is on the Bill of Sale

Then Wait - & Wait - & - Wait some more and presto a Title finally shows up and I'm the offical owner of record.

As the guy who started this posting thread said in his 1st post Lots of Time - and a little money. and even more patience. !
Current Project Red '72 CB 350 - K4 to ride with my son
Finished Green '72 CB 350 - K4 built with my son
1st bike '69 SL 350 (bought home in buckets)
TX 750 forget the year only had 6 months
'73 Harley Sporster XL 1000