You and the buyer have agreed on the price. She’s got the cash. You sign over the title certificate. It was a good car, but you’re getting a better one. All done – right? Six months later you get the notice. Your old car has been abandoned and towed. They want you to pay. And, don’t forget the parking tickets. What went wrong?
More than likely, you forgot to complete and file the Seller’s Report of Sale. When you sell a car, you must not only complete the required information on the title certificate (such as the odometer reading and contact information) and sign off on the title, but, here in Washington, you must also file the required Seller’s Report of Sale. You need to have the license plate number, date of sale, sale price, name and address of the buyer, and you should have the vehicle identification number to complete the report. You can easily file the report online by going to: https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/rosprod/. You can also report the sale in person at one of the vehicle licensing offices (where you buy license tabs). Be sure to keep a copy of what you file in case of a question in the future. If you file the report online you will be able to print a copy of the confirmation.
You can use the bill of sale form provided by the State of Washington (http://www.dol.wa.gov/forms/420065.pdf) to gather the important information that will be needed to complete the sale. This form does not transfer the title or serve as the Seller’s required report of sale.
Aside from the legal requirements when you sell the car, be sure you have the money in hand before you make the transfer. Be careful about checks, even cashier’s checks. And, don’t fall for the trap of taking a check for a larger amount and giving the buyer change (yes, this really happens). You may not know for several days or so that the check is no good. Cash is usually good (unless it’s counterfeit). Be smart and meet somewhere safe to handle the transaction. Your bank or the vehicle licensing office might make good places to meet.
What has been your experience when you have sold a car? Share your tips and pointers.