Land reminds you to visit branch together to transfer title
JUNE 9, 2008
Selling a car through the classifieds or from your front yard are simple ways of disposing of an unwanted vehicle. But Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land reminds residents that handling the deal incorrectly could end with regrets, no sale or even lawsuits.
"Buyers and sellers should work together to avoid headaches down the road," Land said. "Buyers need to make sure the vehicle title is valid and free of liens. Sellers want to know they're no longer liable for the vehicle. All parties can ensure a smooth transaction by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law."
Land recommends that both the seller and buyer in private vehicle sales go together to a Secretary of State office within 15 days of the sale to have the seller's title transferred into the purchaser's name.
That way, each party knows the title transfer has been done properly to avoid possible future legal problems. Michigan law makes owners responsible for any property damage or injuries caused by their vehicles so ensuring the transfer happens correctly should be a priority for the seller.
If a joint visit isn't possible, then the seller must keep a record of the sale. The record may be a photocopy of both sides of the assigned title or a document that includes the name, address, driver's license number, and signature of the buyer, and also the vehicle's year, make, vehicle identification number, purchase price, and date of sale. The sale record must be kept for at least 18 months.
All owners listed on the front of the title must sign off before it can be transferred. Additionally, the seller should fill out the odometer statement and check whether the vehicle's mileage is accurate or if it exceeds mechanical limits. If a lien against the vehicle is noted, the seller should get sign off from the lienholder or include a lien termination statement.
When giving a vehicle to a charity, donors should keep a record of the transaction just as if they sold the vehicle. As a general rule, the charity must have the vehicle's title put in its name unless it holds a used-vehicle dealer license.
At the office, the buyer will be charged $15 for the transfer plus a 6 percent use tax calculated from the purchase price or fair retail value. A $15 late fee is charged if the transfer is processed more than 15 days after the sale.
To access Secretary of State services online or find more information about vehicle titles and registration, visit www.Michigan.gov/sos or call (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).
Titling and Registering a Vehicle