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The process of selling a motorcycle can be a tedious one, especially if you haven’t done it many times before. You have many things to consider when selling a motorcycle, and the title should be just one.
A motorcycle’s title is an important document. If you don’t have the title to your motorcycle or if you simply lost it, you may be wondering if selling your motorcycle without it is a possibility.
Can I sell my motorcycle with no title? It is illegal in most states to sell a motorcycle without a license. While there are some states that don’t require the seller to provide the title upfront, they are still obligated to eventually provide the title to the buyer. The seller cannot give the buyer a title change without the title.
In the past few years, I have sold and bought twelve motorcycles. I know from personal experience how important it is to obtain a title before buying and also having one when you sell. A title will help you make the transaction go smoothly.
Why You Shouldn’t Sell Without A Title
Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of special documents such as the title to a motorcycle. I’ve had my fair share of lost titles and understand that not always having the title readily available when selling is a common occurrence.
There are many legitimate reasons someone might not be able to title their motorcycle. But the truth is, it’s actually illegal to sell a motorcycle without giving the buyer the title, even if the buyer didn’t ask for it or seemed lax about the situation.
Even though some states don’t require that the seller immediately give the title to the buyer during a transaction; however, the seller is legally required to eventually give the title to the seller.
Mississippi for instance states that even though a seller can legally sell a motorcycle with no title, they must at least apply at the time of transaction for a duplicate title in the intent of the buyer receiving the title. The buyer should receive the title within 10-14 working days.
When you sell a motorcycle without a title, you’ll still get annoying calls from the buyer because they need more information and/or your signature on documents to get a new title under their name. A buyer titling a motorcycle under their own name is more complicated than it is for you to get a replacement title.
You’ll also likely have a hard time selling your motorcycle in the first place without a title. A lot of people are wary of untitled motorcycles because they suspect it is either stolen or it has a lien on it that they don’t know about. This is a valid suspicion. They don’t want to purchase a motorcycle that is insecure or stolen. It would cause them a lot of headaches.
You run the risk that the buyer will sue you for small claims if you sell a motorcycle without a registration. It’s possible for a lawyer to get involved if there were any issues with the title that you were unaware of and it ultimately falls down on you because you sold a motorcycle with title issues (even if you didn’t know about it).
How to get a title replacement
If you are thinking about selling your motorcycle but don’t have a title to it, there are a few simple steps you can take to guarantee your legal safety and have a smooth transaction.
The first step is to try and find your title. Sometimes titles are placed in the most obvious of places that you don’t think to look such as desk drawers or the top of the fridge. Keep in mind that if you purchased the motorcycle using a loan from the bank, the title will be transferred to the bank.
It is very simple to get a new title if your motorcycle’s title has been lost. You’ll need to go to your local DMV and report that the title to your motorcycle has been lost. They will issue you a “Lost or Stolen Title” form that you’ll fill out and pay a small fee (usually about $10-$20) to get the new title.
The form you fill out usually isn’t longer than two pages worth of information (this depends on the state you live in). The Department of Revenue will then review the application and verify that it matches with their records.
If your application matches their records, which means they see that the motorcycle was titled under you, they will generate a brand new one and mail it to your address within approximately two weeks. Once you have received it, the original title lost is deemed null.
As I stated before, it’s a lot easier for you as the original owner to generate a new title than it is for a buyer to generate a title that the seller lost. A buyer simply can’t go in and fill out a lost title form because the Department of Revenue will see that the information doesn’t match up.
This involves a lot more paperwork for the buyer, including your signature. It’s much easier for everyone for you to just get the title of the motorcycle before selling.
What about Barn Finds?
You can sell a motorcycle with no title, but there are a few exceptions. First, if the bank has the title and you have a loan on it. You can still sell a motorcycle that has a loan. All you have to do is notify your bank. The buyer will then go with you to the bank to pay them the remaining balance of the loan and the bank will then either transfer the title to the buyer’s bank or mail them the title.
A barn find is the second exception to selling your motorcycle without a title. The term “barn find” It is a very common phrase in motorcycle circles. It basically means that an older motorcycle has been abandoned, and that the owner is not in sight.
This is where it might be possible to sell the motorcycle without a title. Some states do not require titles on motorcycles older than one year.
You can find a barn for sale if you happen to stumble across it. Before selling it, do a VIN scan. This can be done by either having a police officer visit your home to check the VIN or taking it to your local DMV to have an employee inspect it. They will verify that the motorcycle is not stolen or has no lien.
When you post it for sale, be sure to be extremely detailed about how you found it, that it doesn’t have a title, and that you performed a VIN inspection which came out clean. To ease buyers minds, you can report that you are willing to have the VIN checked again.
A bill of sale is all you need to provide the buyer. And if you’re in a state that didn’t title motorcycles before a certain year (and the motorcycle was made before that mark), all the buyer needs to get a new title is the bill of sale.
How to Get Rid of a Motorcycle Without Having a Title
I’ve heard of situations some people have been in where their motorcycle isn’t worth much and it would take a lot of money to get it running. They want to get rid of it but don’t want to go through the hassle of getting a new title that they lost.
There’s still an option for this. If you’re willing, there are several junk yards that will accept motorcycles and other vehicles as scrap metal. Some of them do require a title to accept the motorcycle, but there are some that only require your last registration as well as your driver’s license to confirm your ownership.
Most motorcycles donated to junk yards are worth a few hundred bucks. Though I don’t love suggesting to give up a motorcycle as scrap metal, some people are left with no choice when it isn’t worth the work required to get it functioning.
What can you do if your motorbike is stolen? You should report your stolen motorcycle to the police and your insurance company. You’ll also want to post pictures of it on social media and check online selling platforms. For more information, click here.
What does the term mean? “title jumping” mean? Title jumping refers to when someone purchases a vehicle and does not register it under their name before selling it. This is done in order to avoid taxes. Although they do have a title to give to the buyer, it is illegal.