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Old 10-04-2018, 03:21 PM   #1
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1978 Argosy 30
Beaufort , South Carolina
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Buying a non-titled Argosy

Hello All!
I could use some assistance with a purchase I am about to make. The camper is a great price but it does not have a title. Not a huge deal as many states do not require campers to be titled. However, I called both Airstream and the DMV and the VIN number is not in the national database. How can I find out if this camper has been stolen? I trust the current owner but I am nervous that this could be a stolen camper from decades ago. How do I verify?!?! Is this a huge NO?
Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-04-2018, 03:51 PM   #2
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This question comes up a lot, do I purchase a vehicle without a title? The short answer is no.
The MSO and Title are the only legal documents that will prove ownership of the vehicle. No title = no legal ownership.
I have made the seller obtain title before I have purchased an old vehicle and if they are legit, then there is no reason for them not to get the title themselves. Most times the seller will say, "I just want to get rid of it", or "yeah everything is fine just apply for the title", be very weary of these sales. Sometimes the vehicle is stolen or salvaged, but the bottom line is without a title, the person selling the vehicle is not the legal owner. The biggest reason for not obtaining title before sale is past due fees that the new owner will have to repay before they can legally operate the vehicle.
Also there is talk of some states not titling RV's or motorcycles, that may be true before 1979, but is not true today, even if you have a pre 1979 vehicle, it is very difficult to impossible to obtain a new title in almost every state now.

Bottom line is;
If the seller is not willing to obtain a title, then there are bigger problems behind the scenes.

Good luck!
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Old 10-04-2018, 04:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vintagemotor View Post
Also there is talk of some states not titling RV's or motorcycles, that may be true before 1979, but is not true today, even if you have a pre 1979 vehicle, it is very difficult to impossible to obtain a new title in almost every state now.
Rhode Island does not have titles for travel trailers. Bought ours used from a private party in Massachusetts and got the title. Brought it to the DMV in RI who did not want the old title and said I would not be getting a new one. A VIN check by the local police was required to get it registered though along with a bill of sale signed by the seller.
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Old 10-04-2018, 05:18 PM   #4
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You can file for lost title, abandoned title or bonded title. Talk to your DMV to see which is right for you. I would not want to pay too much for a trailer with no title as it's value without a title is basically parts only, in states where trailers are titled.
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Old 10-05-2018, 09:21 AM   #5
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I have purchased old cars from a junk yard to fix up and run into this. In N.C. and some other states, you have to purchase a bond for the value of the vehicle that will pay the rightful owner of it is stolen. You have to have a legitimate bill of sale, sign an affidavit, the DMV has to ‘eyeball’ the vehicle and you provide the bond from an insurance company. Mine cost about $300.

A small price in the overall cost of fixing up a junker. Interestingly enough I had to take mine (a 1973 Postal Jeep) to the DMV for them to eyeball. But you are not allowed to drive it without the registration. They sort of wink about it.
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Old 10-05-2018, 09:48 AM   #6
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I would say this is a gut decision on your part. I live in California. I purchased my 65 Globetrotter from someone that renovates Airstreams and ended up with one more than he had space for. I got a bill of sale from him and a copy of the bill of sale from who he purchased it from. I took the trailer to the DMV, they verified the VIN on it, confirmed it had not been registered for XXX years. I don't remember the exact number, but it was more than needed for me to not pay the back fees. They issued a new title and plates with no issues, extra costs or headaches.
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Old 10-05-2018, 11:42 AM   #7
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Non Titled Argosy

Some states, such as Maine, do not title RVs that are over 15 years of age. Having dealt with this when we sold our 1969 Globetrotter it can be a hassle. We ended up having a highway patrolman come by the house, verify the VIN and that we had been paying excise tax and licensing for the trailer. This appeared to work for sales within the United States.
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Old 10-05-2018, 11:47 AM   #8
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A slightly different experience...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott H View Post
I would say this is a gut decision on your part. I live in California. I purchased my 65 Globetrotter from someone that renovates Airstreams and ended up with one more than he had space for. I got a bill of sale from him and a copy of the bill of sale from who he purchased it from. I took the trailer to the DMV, they verified the VIN on it, confirmed it had not been registered for XXX years. I don't remember the exact number, but it was more than needed for me to not pay the back fees. They issued a new title and plates with no issues, extra costs or headaches.
Sounds like you had an exceptionally smooth experience, ours was a bit more involved...

We bought an Excella from a couple who had lost the California title, then moved to Nevada where it was registered without a title. While we would never, normally, purchase anything without having a title in hand, circumstances not worth rehashing led to us paying for an Airstream without a title...

So, after paying in full we went to the California DMV with the previous owner, who did have a 2006 California registration renewal notice in hand, but since over ten years had elapsed between the non-renewal of California registration and the request for a lost title, California had purged the registration records from their system. They did create a new record in their system, and let us pay the sales tax and registration fees. However, before the DMV would issue new plates and a title they requested a letter from the Nevada DMV stating that it had not been titled in Nevada, which had to be done via postal mail.

Once that letter was in hand we returned to the DMV and competed the process. They inspected the trailer, gave us the plates, and informed us that a title would be in the mail. A few weeks later we received the original copies of all documentation we submitted with a hand written note saying "Bond for Value" on top.

We are now in the process of submitting a Surety Bond to the DMV, after which it appears we will receive a "Bonded Title". Based on our research, it appears most if not all states have the same process in place, where someone without a title can be issued a provisional "Bonded" title. The Bond doesn't cost much, but it appears we won't receive a real title until 3 years elapses, which is also the case in other states. It's not a huge deal, but definitely a huge disappointment.

So, even in the most convoluted of scenarios it is likely possible to receive a title, but just know that it may require a bit of hoop jumping, and several trips to your local DMV office.
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Old 10-05-2018, 02:38 PM   #9
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I would call the DMV in your home home state for the information. That is a state by state issue. I purchased an Airstream without a title in Oklahoma and it took an act of congress to get the title. Other states are real lenient.

Good Luck
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Old 10-05-2018, 04:20 PM   #10
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A little dif. from travel trailers but I have pur. utility trailers etc. both used and new without a title, just register as home built. Great advantage when pur. new, not paying any taxes fees etc. Just title and plate fees, only doc. needed make up vin#. Have done this for over 50 yrs. w/out any hassle or inspections.
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Old 10-05-2018, 07:03 PM   #11
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Stolen?

MickeyC is actually correct, the likelihood of obtaining a title depends on your state. My comment about bonded titles was based on information at the Surety Solutions website, and may not apply to your situation...

As for the original query, how to verify if an Argosy is stolen, you might consider contacting your state's Highway Patrol, they should at least be able to verify that it has not been reported as stolen in your state.
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Old 10-05-2018, 09:21 PM   #12
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1978 Argosy 30
Beaufort , South Carolina
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Thank you to all who replied so quickly. The Argosy we were looking at seemed like such a steal we went ahead and risked it. Hopefully this doesnít bite us in the butt. We had a police officer come run the VIN and it was clean. Applying for the title on Tuesday. Hereís hoping all goes well. Thanks again!! Love being part of such a helpful and responsive group.
Best,
LSorrells
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Old 11-04-2018, 05:18 PM   #13
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Congratulations!!!!


As others have said it has everything to do with your state and the state it was purchased in.


I bought my '78 in California sans title and after owning it for a year went on a whirlwind tour around the state to get one. Doing a little internet research on the paperwork I had gave me a possible address in Oroville, CA so I headed up that way. I found the previous owner living in a much worse trailer on her land right under the dam that almost gave way last year. I was greeted by her pit bull but dogs don't really worry me, it's the humans you have to look out for.


Well, it turned out she was nice as could be but her ex-husband who was also on the title had passed away a few years back. The DMV wouldn't take just her signature on the paperwork without a death certificate so I headed over to the next county and got one. Well, turns out that the one I could get wasn't good enough for them so I had to take her over there. Finally they signed off on the paperwork so I could get a new title but they wouldn't take a charge card.


Anyway, I did eventually get it done. Paid the fines and fees from back registration and it's officially mine now. It's back in Michigan now and I just got a letter from California saying the registration is overdue. Time to head to the Secretary of State here and get it transferred I guess.


I'll bet your process won't be as involved, but as others have said it's just a small expense compared to what you're likely in for now


Have Fun,


John
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