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Discussion Starter #1
I just bought my first bike. A rider friend came along with me.

Long story short, the seller said he had owned the bike for about 5-6k miles. Total mileage on the odometer is about 11k.

My friend takes a test ride and it's all fine. We negotiate on a price and we're good to go. Title signed and money exchanged.

Something doesn't feel right so we look through the title and the bill of sale (CA) again. The name on the title and the name on the bill of sale are different. The title is under the name of Bob and it's dated August 25th with an odometer reading of 10k. The name on the bill of sale, which I know the guy just wrote because I handed him a blank form, is under the name of John. Everything on the bill of sale is signed and dated today.

That obviously means he lied about owning the bike for 5-6k miles. It's also a little alarming that the names are not the same. The title was also obviously not signed by him, but by another person, probably the previous owner. Every info on the bike match what's on the title, such as VIN, engine number, and license plate number. Our guess is that John bought the bike from Bob on 8/26 but never transferred it to his own name, and flipped it to us.My friend drove the bike back from John's house to mine, which is about a 20 mile ride. He said he didn't notice anything but it would be wise to take the bike to a shop and have a thorough inspection. I'm going to the DMV in a couple days to transfer the title to my name. I don't think the bike is stolen because John did have a signed title on him.

Is there anything else I should be concerned about?
 

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John probably never registered it. John will also have to sign the title most likely. In my state you can forgo the bill of sale but the downfall is you will pay sales tax on book value not what you actually paid for the bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I did some more research and apparently it's called "title jumping", with the primary motive being avoiding paying the sales tax. I don't know how renewing the registration works but the bike's registration is good through May 2015. This means that the DMV has no record of John ever owning this bike. Just wondering how this will work out at the DMV with me trying to put it in my name...
 

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The seller probably bought the bike from his buddy and never swapped out the title, then went to sell it and said, "Hey, by the way, did you ever find the title for my bike? I'm gonna put it up for sale on Craigslist." Friends do this all the time, especially if it involves someone taking over someone else's payments.

Another common scenario is, the seller bought the bike a month ago and fixed it up to sell, and never put it in his name because that is an expense that would come straight out of his pocket. He would also have to wait for the title in the mail before he sold it, which can take weeks. In this case, he probably did lie to you, but will probably just say that he meant to say 500 miles rather than 5000 miles anyway, so you probably won't get anywhere with him if this is the case.

Just curious, are you happy with the bike otherwise? Does it just have you a bit leery because it doesn't line up?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm happy with the bike otherwise. The main concern I have is if I'll even be able to get this titled in my name. I technically did not buy from the registered owner, even if I do have the signed title. The story not lining up is a secondary concern, but still a concern.
 

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As long as you have a legitimately signed title, you can transfer it over. The state doesn't care who pays the sales tax and fees, as long as they are paid.

There would only be an issue if the title is forged and the motorcycle is stolen.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I feel like if the title is forged, the guy would have used the same name throughout and at least stick with the same story. There's also no need to have it already signed and dated to a time one month prior. I can see the watermark when I hold the title against some backlight, so I'm not worried about a forged title. I also did a VIN check through dmvdesk and it came back clean.

The front page of the title was signed and dated but those fields don't indicate sales date, but rather the date it was signed to release interest in the vehicle. The back page was left completely empty and that's where you fill in the sale date. If the first owner reported the sale to the DMV back in August, I may have to pay late fees and also pick up on that part of the sales tax, which would suck. I guess we'll see what happens.

This brings up another concern for me - if the bike was crashed (possibly to the level of totaling) by the first owner but never reported, the flipper bought it from the first owner then fixed it up, and sold it to me. I guess taking it to a shop for an inspection is in order.
 

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It happens quite often that someone will buy a motorcycle as an impulse buy and never get around to actually titling it before deciding it's a bad idea for them.

As long as the title is clear, it should be ok. I don't think the sales tax increases as time went by. Some states may charge back registration fees if it is a state where the plates stay with the motorcycle.
 

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Dods, I don't think it's a matter of the sales tax increasing as much as it could be a matter of a fine for not having the title registered in so many days (some states only give you 30 days to register a vehicle after you buy it)
 

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I see. There is no limitation here on time. You can hold the title indefinitely, but you can't use the vehicle on public roads until the transfer and registration is done.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I just checked the CA DMV website. Late fee for going past the date is $45. Not that big of a deal. And since the title was originally signed on Aug 26, I still have a couple days until I get to that point. The only concern now is if the DMV has a record of that first sale (first owner may have reported the sale to release his liability) and if that will affect anything. Going to the DMV tomorrow. I will post with updates.
 

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if the bike is OK ... you can get the deed and title sorted out.
it just costs you a little extra money.

suggest that you focus on riding the bike safely. thats whats important.
dont get too hung up on paperwork problems ... the riding is what counts.
have FUN and be safe :)

dT
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Got it titled. DMV wanted another odometer reading since the one on the title was a month old and who knows how many miles a person can put up in a month. Easier than expected.
 
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