Securing the Deal: The Importance of Title and Ownership Transfer
Written by : Ray Pierce
Last Updated: 11/28/2023

A quick overview of the topics covered in this article.

Securing the Deal: The Importance of Title and Ownership Transfer

Person looking confused when reading their title

When selling a car, it’s important to not only have physical possession of your car’s title but also understand if it’s transferrable. There are very strict rules about making sure a title has proper signatures and information filled out, otherwise many car buying companies will not be able to accept the title and your car.

In this guide, we’ll go over all of the common mistakes to watch out for to ensure your title is ready to be transferred to a new owner in the event of a sale.

What is a Title?

A certificate of title is a legal document given from the state’s DMV showing proof of ownership. This document is printed in color which varies by state and has important information on it such as the year, make, model, VIN #, purchaser, seller, etc.

Key Information on a Title:

  • Year, Make, Model
  • VIN #
  • Registered wner’s Name
  • Title Number
  • Title Issued Date
  • Lien Holder

Do I Need to Have Physical Possession of My Title?

Yes, you need physical possession of your title in order to sell your car. Many companies will not schedule a pick-up until they can confirm you have the physical title. In some cases, photos of the title need to be sent to the cash for cars company before they can create an assignment in their system. You may have the title somewhere, but our car buying experts suggest you physically locate the title. Oftentimes, customers tell us they have the title, but when it comes time to send us a photo or a tow truck arrives, they scramble to search for it and can’t find it. Leaving both the company and customer with unnecessary stress.

Can I Sell My Car Without a Title?

Yes, it is possible to sell your car without a title, however, please know that you will get a much lower price for it. The reason for this is that the buyer of a car without a title cannot resell the car and in fact will need to crush the vehicle. This leaves very little money left on the table and so the buyer of a vehicle without a title cannot offer you much for your car.

What If My Title Is Signed Already?

If your title is already signed over, meaning the seller section is already completed, the title is no good and can’t be used to sell your car. This typically happens when the previous seller sells you the car and you never went to the DMV to get the title flipped into your name.
Selling a car with it being signed over is illegal and called ‘title skipping’. The law requires you to officially have the title printed in your name through the state or DMV. You will have to go to the DMV and have the title completed and printed under your name prior to you able to sell it.

How Do I Prepare My Title When Selling My Car?

When getting ready to sell your car, the first step is to locate your title. Once you found your title, make sure that the seller section is not filled out. If it is blank, you will need to sign your name where it says “Seller Signature” or “Signature of Registered Owner”, etc. This will vary by state so please refer to our “how to sign your title” guide on the specific location page. There are also various rules around if there is more than 1 owner, so please be sure to check that out. You will also need to print your name and in some states 2 signatures may be required.

Common Mistakes When Preparing a Title

  1. Using a pencil to sign or print your name. This is not allowed as only blue or black ink is acceptable.
  2. No Cross Outs or Scribbling on the title. You cannot cross out or scribble anywhere on the title.
  3. No White Out. You cannot use white out on a title, that automatically voids it.
  4. Signing or printing in the wrong area. This is 1 of the most common issues we see with titles, make sure you double and triple check to make sure you’re signing and printing your name in the right section.
  5. Not signing a title at all. If you don’t sign your title, it is rendered useless to us and will have to mail back your title to get your signature.
  6. Missing a signature. If there are 2 owners listed on the title separated by an “AND” – we need both signatures. 1 signature will not suffice.

While these are the most common, there are a few lesser known issues. In some cases, these can be resolved with getting a POA, however, many times you will need to go to the DMV and request a duplicate title to fix the issue.

What Happens to My Title After Selling My Car?

After you sell your car, the company that purchased your vehicle will begin transferring your title into their company’s name. This transfer legally absolves you from the vehicle and now the buyer is the owner of the vehicle. Most companies typically have a title department that manages this process. As long as you are doing business with a reputable company, once the car is gone, you no longer need to worry about the car and/or title. This process helps prevent issues related to tickets, liability and theft.

Now that you’ve read about the importance of your title and ownership transfer, make sure you locate your title and store it in a safe place. This allows for an easy and smooth transaction when you decide to sell your car in the future. If you have any questions around your title or ownership, please give us a call today and we’ll do our best to help answer your questions.

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Written by : Ray Pierce

Ray Pierce founded Zippy Cash for Cars in 2001 and has been in the automotive industry buying cars ever since. Starting off with 2 employees, Ray is proud to now have over 50 employees buying cars coast to coast.