Friday, August 19, 2011

Car Buying Lessons

This past week we bought ourselves a larger car to accommodate the new addition who will be joining our family next month. While this was not our first car buying experience, nor our first time buying a used car from a private party, we learned more things from this experience than from previous ones.

First, we learned that the least expensive and most efficient way to get money out of our online account for a large cash transaction was to wire money to a local bank and then get a cashier's check. We first tried to get the equivalent of a cashier's check - a treasurer's check - from our online-only bank, but it was going to take a week and a half for them to ship it to us! Expedited shipping would have set us back $50, which seemed a little steep. Especially when wiring the money to a local bank only cost $12. (Not including the fee to actually process the check). The online-only bank (meaning that there are no buildings with live tellers, only a 24-hr customer service line - with extremely friendly and helpful people, by the way) gives us a higher interest rate, but after this we've decided to definitely hold on to a free checking account at a local bank, just in case.

Second, we learned that buying a used car with a lien on it is a little different than buying a used car that the seller owns free and clear. When we bought the Acura, we handed them an envelope of cash (less than $3k), and they handed us a bill of sale and the title. Easy. This time, not only was the amount of $$ higher, but there was still a lien on the vehicle. Fortunately we did not learn this lesson the hard way. While still trying to figure out how to get the money out of our online account, we walked through an imaginary scenario in which the sellers took our money and bought themselves a nice entertainment system for their living room instead of paying off the lien. It turned into a nasty courtroom battle in which we weren't sure we'd get the car or not. It definitely ruined the sellers more than it ruined us, but it was a headache we could avoid. So we had the cashier's check made out to the lienholder. Fortunately the seller had no problem with this. It turned out that the lienholder was another local bank, so I met the seller there and handed the cashier's check right to the teller. I was expecting to receive an official looking document that said something to the effect of, "upon receipt of X dollars, lienholder has no further interest in vehicle" since that's what the advice I found online said I would get. All I got was a photocopy of the receipt that showed "account payoff" and a balance of $0. Good enough I guess!

Third, we learned that should a mistake be made in signing over the title, one has to go to the courthouse to get an Affidavit of Correction, then both buyer and seller must sign it in the presence of a notary (though buyer and seller don't have to sign at the same time, as long as both signatures are notarized). This one, you can guess, we are learning firsthand: the seller accidentally signed the 'buyer' line on the title. (here's the killer: he was talking about the hoops required to jump through if such a thing were to happen as he was doing it!! I kid you not! He said, "Now lemme make sure I sign the right place, because I've been through the rigmarole before when you don't..." and then he handed it to me and I almost fell out of my chair.) The guy is unable to leave his place of business during business hours, so I had the pleasure of driving to the courthouse myself to get the affidavit, and then we realized that I wouldn't be able to take the signed title home with me anyway because he couldn't get away til after 5:30 to see the notary (this was all happening before lunch). (We bought the car in Decatur, another city about 30mins away from us. A city we very rarely drive to). So I left the title and affidavit with him and he's supposed to get it notarized and in the mail to us this weekend. Hopefully we'll learn that he's a trustworthy fellow and we'll be able to title our car soon

So, lessons learned. But even with all this, we are so thankful to have found this wonderful car and have been able to save up for it so we could buy it in cash. Dave Ramsey has definitely changed the way we do things!!

graphic signature

No comments: