Bikes with "No Titles"
You are absolutely correct, when you stated it varies state by state.
Some states are so easy it is a joke and then the extreme other side is, you will never get a title; but most are somewhere between those two.
I can speak from experience; I was a dealer and a notary, not anymore though.
When fuzz, responded with the details from VA, that is a real easy system there; I wish they all were that easy.
You can try the Title Services, that will get you a bill of sale or maybe a registration from another state; they work in most states. It will cost, maybe $150- $200 for all the notary work and the title company fees. They advertise in most cycle trader magazines. This is what most people use.
The title laws have changed drastically in the past few years in most states, so be careful. If a seller says he has the title, but didn't put it in his (seller's) name to avoid the taxes, and the title is still in the first seller's name and signed; that is an "open title" run away from that one. I get that a lot, usually from NJ sellers. Just tell him to put it in his name and then you will buy it, then watch his head explode.
For me, now: If it doesn't come with a good transferable title it is a parts bike, Period. And will be priced accordingly.