SOLVED - A California DMV question - title jumping / transfer conundrum w/ uncooperative orig seller

Discussion in 'West – California, the desert southwest and whatev' started by MeefZah, Nov 7, 2020.

  1. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    Normally I'm the go-to guy for DMV stuff. This one had me stumped, and that really sucks because I'm in the problem.

    I buy a used bike from Seller A. Bike has a clear CA title. Seller A, who by all other accounts, is super "by the book", accidentally leaves the title open (seriously, by accident, she got distracted filling it out). She completes release of liability with my name.

    I take the bike and title and ride for a few months without transferring it into my name. I decide to sell it. I have the open title as signed over by Seller A, blank on the back. No profit is to be made; bike is to be sold for what I paid for it.

    Buyer B buys the bike. He takes the title. He fills in the back of the title with his information and goes to the DMV to register it, both of us thinking that possession of the title signed to him trumps any release of liability. Buyer B pays the tax and transfer fees ($700) and then the DMV tells him he can't proceed with the registration until my info is cleared from the system as I still show up as the "release of liability" buyer from Seller A.

    Buyer B explains situation and DMV clerk unofficially tells him that Seller A should complete a affidavit stating that her sale to me didn't go through, that the sale was made between Seller A and Buyer B instead, and they will release the "release of liability" and put the bike in his name. Easy!

    Seller A initially agrees to this but when the time comes to sign, she doesn't answer her phone and disappears. When Buyer B finally tracks her down, she refuses to sign off, stating that she will not be a party to fraud because it is wrong.

    So Buyer B and I decide that the proper way around this is for me to complete a second release of liability to him, essentially showing a new sale, which I do online. Now there's the release to me and then a release dated after that one from me to him. This, however, is still not good with the DMV and they won't let him title it, and actually this may have compounded the issue further. DMV also isn't helpful in advising on what to do and their online FAQ don't have this scenario listed.

    So now I have Buyer B's money, he has my motorcycle, and neither one of us can do shit. He can't just give me the title back because it's got his name on the back of it now so it's useless to me, and the machine is useless to him without reg and title. I guess I could tell him to fuck right off, but that's not right.

    So I refund him the sale amount plus the $700 he spent at the DMV, and I take the bike back. He's super bummed because he wanted it, I'm super bummed because I can't buy the bike I wanted with the money from the sale, and I'm out $700 more money plus I gotta cancel the trip to get my new bike. On the plus side I do love this bike, so keeping it isn't really killing me.

    I now have the title signed over to Buyer B, and two releases of liability with the most recent one in his name. How to get this bike legally into my name now? The only thing that makes sense is to have Seller A complete the form basically reporting a adulterated / mutilated title and request another one, then sign off and give that title to me, and I just eat shit for a second time by paying the second set off DMV fees and title the bike in my name. Except... Seller A is now not answering me or Buyer B so she's ghosting us and is clearly being uncooperative, presumably as some sort of lesson to me about trying to scam the system or something. Because she's a shining beacon of righteousness in an otherwise grim world. Well, her and the DMV that charges $700 to register a fucking $10,000 motorcycle.

    Any ideas here? I've thought about just riding the fucking bike and saying "the hell with this title and registration bullshit"... but it's worthless and I can't renew the tags without that goddamn piece of paper.

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    EDIT - Tucker had the answer, multiple bills of sale. See subsequent posts. Thanks.

    In summary: present title, present 3 bills of sale - 1 from each "transfer" (DMV form 135, signature of sellers weirdly not required), present assignment of new owner (DMV form 101), pay new transfer fee and tax, title gets mailed to you and reg gets given to you on the spot

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    #1
  2. villageidiot

    villageidiot Long timer Supporter

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    Maybe try a title service, with both you and your buyer there, you ought to be able to straighten something out.

    I’ve bought bikes like you describe and have had to send a registered letter to the last reported owner to get them to fill out a form (the form escapes me) and if it comes back cancelled/not able to reach them, then the dead end is done and they reg the bike to you.

    I think the problem OBVIOUSLY lies in your fault for not registering the bike. And that a release of liability puts it “in your name” BUT a second release of liability from you to your buyer should do that as well. I think.

    maybe try a different DMV, or a title service that knows the ways to handle it that isn’t a standard dmv employee
    #2
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  3. pfdskipper

    pfdskipper Westside Trash Supporter

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  4. MJS

    MJS Long timer

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    You might be able to complete a Statement of Facts and submit to DMV with your transfer paperwork. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...FjAAegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw3CQxp3wPIIn3huPVsPdBPw

    VI is right, this is all because you failed to complete the original transfer. California gives you 10 days or so to make that happen. Perhaps this is the fraud she is referring to. If you have to get anything from Seller A you might impress upon her that you will be paying for your mistake. Not only with the $700 you refunded your Buyer but also with the penalties and fees you will have to pay DMV to get the title in your name.

    If all else fails you can try an out of state option.

    Buyer B takes the bike to AZ and registers the bike in his name. Gets new AZ title and then transfer the title back to CA in a year.

    OR (I like this option better but more work for you)

    You get Bill of Sale from Buyer B and go get AZ title. Then sell bike to Buyer B or someone else.

    Used to be you could walk into an AZ dmv and walk out with a plate and title. AZ is now sending title by mail.
    #4
  5. victor441

    victor441 Long timer

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    Yikes! I was presented with a similar situation buying a CA bike a few years ago, seller had not transferred title to his name and wanted me to pretend I bought in from the guy he got it from earlier that year. I wasn't comfortable with that and feared a possible quagmire like yours. Told him we would have to do the deal by the book so we both went to the local DMV and a helpful clerk got us squared away with the right forms.
    Anyway locally the DMV offices have varying reputations as to how helpful they will be, especially with a messy title or registration situation, if you ask around maybe a different office would be worth a try.
    #5
  6. MojoRooster

    MojoRooster Adventurer

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    I think you need to go to the dmv and explain that you didn't want to register it in your name to avoid paying sales tax and now your ready to come clean, hand them your credit card and bend over:D
    #6
  7. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Buyer B is pretty wild eyed to buy an expensive bike when it isnt registered to the guy he's buying from.
    Seller A is being a first class twit and would lose nothing by helping you out. And left the title open in the first place so played a part in it all.

    It's a shame either way. Telling the DMV the whole story is most likely the only way,your an upstanding guy and member of community.
    It's not like something was stolen or someone was killed,it's only registration FFS.
    #7
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  8. lvscrvs

    lvscrvs Long timer Supporter

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    #8
  9. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    First off..there is nothing wrong with California DMV except the cost. You can't expect to walk in with a mess and have them sort it for you. The counter clerk 'process's' your paperwork they don't assemble it for you. Step one is you need the 'screen' the clerk see's when they pull up the data base on your vehicle. This is where the High Street DMV services shine....they see the data and assemble the required paperwork backwards. This data in known as a 'registration print out' or KSR. Only a licensed person, LEO or registered owner can get this KSR. Without the KSR you are using the info at your disposal and one would trust it is accurate. Now you need to assemble a chain of events that reflect the 'screen data'...simple enough. Most forms are printable from online. Considering the fees are paid you will likely only need to pay one more transfer fee and the killer..perhaps some sales tax. I have done hundreds (yes hundreds) of such transaction. Initial step will be to compile the chain of events on a sheet of paper...leave out all the personal stuff, back story, money, feeling, name calling, regrets. Now assemble an unbroken chain from registered owner on front of title to final person you want on the title. I've done them with multiple people in between and multiple dealers...some mystery and some not present or uncooperative. You need a bill of sale from registered owner to you, you can make your own. You need bill of sale from you to whomever is next in line, you can make your own. On and on an unbroken chain from registered owner to final owner. This chain will reflect the data screen/KSR/current registered owner on DMV base. Have all your ducks in a row with no gaps. It's not rocket surgery and really quite straightforward...don't complicate it....and PLEASE just the facts...NO back story....just facts. If you would care to take the time and assemble a list that matches the facts I can tell you which form to use. IF YOU GET HOLD OF THE KSR it's a for certain....you may now have this in your pile of paperwork. If you don't have KSR we are building on the info you currently have and will assume it is correct as per dmv screen.
    #9
  10. MattLikeyBikey

    MattLikeyBikey Been here awhile

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    DMV wants their pound of flesh and you can't shirk it by not registering the bike and flipping it. Register the bike then sell it to them. Can probably get it all done through AAA at one time.
    #10
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  11. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    Any piece of paper or the 256 "Statement of facts" referenced above? I've already got a concise and polite written summary based on post 1's info ready to go for the counter person tomorrow, since I figured I'd be telling the story to a few different people.

    I have no issue paying what's owed, my question is more what to do if seller A doesn't want help out in the event I need a 227 title replacement.
    #11
  12. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    Yes, I'm beyond that now. It's a question of what forms / what to do since the title is now wrong, there's multiple r-o-l, and the original seller is uncooperative. I understand the process under normal circumstances, these are abnormal circumstances though.
    #12
  13. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    Also to clarify, at this point my goal is to get the title and reg in my name and then I'll just most likely keep the bike. I don't want to further complicate this by adding a buyer to the mess.
    #13
  14. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Do not tell the story! Under no circumstances. JUST the facts. Bill of sales unbroken chain. I wouldn't bother with SOF....you COULD GO IN armed with 'power of attorneys' from each person for this vehicle only. Then if there is a hiccup you can sign there and then by POA. This is getting in to specialist category. If you want a one trip visit you need to look critically at your paperwork to ascertain it is a clear and concise match for what DMV have. All THEY have to work with is their data base and your paperwork must reflect just that.
    #14
  15. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    You don't need cooperation from the original seller.. just make yourself a bill of sale (you didn't steal the car)...take her out of the equation...bill of sale from her to you. bill of sale from you to guy on back of title.....now it is their vehicle. Want it back from them? Bill of sale from them to you. UNBROKEN CHAIN TO MATCH DATA BASE
    #15
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  16. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    Throw me a bone, here, LOL. Assuming you work for DMV. Thank you for replying.

    Are you saying I should have a bill of sale for each transaction? Sale to me, sale to Buyer B, cancelled sale back to me? Or just the ability to articulate these transactions occurred?

    I don't think a POA is going to happen, again, Seller A is not cooperative. If she won't sign the 227 she definitely won't sign a POA. Buyer B, yes, he would.

    The paperwork I have is the title, Buyer 's aborted/ suspended reg applications, and then the knowledge of the sequence of events that I can provide orally or in writing to the DMV.

    What else should I bring?
    #16
  17. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    We posted same time. Thanks!
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  18. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Nah. Its simple rules. Selling a bike when it isnt in your name,and the release form was sent in already. Rule'z is rule'z.
    #18
  19. kmag

    kmag Adventurer

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    I agree with the registration service suggestion. If you are in the LA area I can recommend a place.
    #19
  20. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly Supporter

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    Opposite end of the state, but thanks.
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