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Buying or Selling a Motorcycle

Copyright 2014, R. Fleischer

Do not ship the vehicle or let it go until & unless it is 100% fully paid for; and, any check or money order has fully cleared...say, 2+ weeks. Best to avoid depositing checks and possible problems, and simply cash the buyers check at the buyers own bank (need not be at his personal branch of that bank), if that is possible. DO NOT deposit or cash the check at YOUR bank, unless you are willing to take the chance on the buyers check (even if a cashiers check or money order...both of which can be forged).   Consummate the sale with CASH (bonafide) if you can, NOT a cashiers check, NOT a money order. You could handle it all at the BUYERS bank, both of you there in person, & same forDMV. Be aware that YOUR bank cannot be immediately sure his check or money order is valid, but HIS bank can.

Take a picture of the vehicle you are selling & take a picture of THE BUYER & THEIR VEHICLE with their vehicle's license plate in the photo.  If they brought a rental truck or a trailer, take photos of the license plates.

Have a wife or girlfriend, & a buddy, & others, present... where the potential Buyer sees the bike you are selling. They make good witnesses in case of any problems, & they also tend to make the Buyer feel that you are really selling a bike YOU really own, & give a more friendly atmosphere, etc.   I even take a photo of the buyer.....and tell him/her that I am doing it so you can tell fellow owners/folks of that brand/model to say hello...or, make up your own story.

AVOID test drives without sale first. It can be stolen; in an accident (YOUR liability), have an agreement signed.   Best way to handle a test drive is, perhaps, YOU take THEM for a ride!..........or; perhaps accept all cash, returnable if no sale and no scratches, wrecks, etc.   
Offer to return the cash, void the sale, within half hour of the buyer taking a test drive. DO NOT sign off paperwork until fully paid.  If you or a friend has another bike there, follow the potential buyer.

Have proper title & registration, etc. Provide service records, bills, receipts, if you have them. Those are often big selling points.


Do all that you can to obtain history of the bike, service history especially. Find out if the bike has been totaled & then repaired, which may be a bit difficult, as many titles do not show it, although some do. A totaled and then repaired bike should sell for much less than the equivalent of not-totaled. There can be some problems titling and certainly registering a 'totaled' bike in some States.  You may want to have a smart phone, etc., with you, to look up the vehicle by VIN number, on the internet, for any wrecks, or anything you can find out.  Learn to do this ahead of seeing the vehicle.

Be prepared to do all you can to keep the Seller happy with you & possibly your test ride. Don't drop the bike! Don't be gone longer on the test ride than agreed-upon. Give the Seller your cell phone number and have his/hers.  Offer to have the seller write down your drivers license information, and take note of your license plate number on the vehicle you arrive on.....this will promote confidence that you are truly legitimate and a nice person.
Know that a wad of CASH, for an All-Cash Deal, is very likely going to get you the very best PRICE!  The seller not only will be more likely to reduce their price, but there is no problem with the seller not wanting to be scammed by money orders, checks, banks, etc.  Having CASH is POWERFUL.   BARGAINING is a good idea most of the time.  There ARE exceptions.

Two copies of a (preferably printed) Bill of Sale. You both sign both. One copy goes to the buyer, the other to the seller. The bill of sale should specify the condition, such as "as-is".   I prefer to not only have the registration, title, etc., signed off, but an actual printed, signed by both parties, Bill of Sale and Declaration (of whatever).

The more detailed the condition noted, the better it is for the buyer, but there are advantages and disadvantages for the seller for really good details.

When transferring a title/ownership, the title should have filled in at least the buyers name & address, and sellers signature and MAYBE the date of sale, and certainly the indicated odometer reading. Seller should consider making pictures of the two sides of a title JUST before handing the title to the buyer.  I'd even do this at the bank if that is where the sale is completed.

Best to go to DMV and handle the filling in of title paperwork, etc....and do the transfer at DMV. If seller and buyer do not both go to the DMV, then, whether the buyer does later or not, the seller NEEDS TO mail the information to the DMV showing the date of sale and new owner. This eliminates liability for what the buyer might do with the motorcycle. Many titles have a sale section attached, that you can separately mail it to DMV.
Make a copy of what you send to the DMV, and when/where/time/date mailed.



Initial release: 04/04/2014
09/09/2014:  clean up for smaller devices.
01/25/2016:  Clean up, update meta codes, larger fonts.

Copyright 2014, R. Fleischer

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Last check/edit: Thursday, May 19, 2016