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Old 07-20-2012, 11:10 AM   #1
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Purchasing A Used Airstream

Hi All,

Any info please, on purchasing a used Airstream out-of-state. Is it like purchasing a car? Is a title just signed over to you? Or is there other paperwork involved? Besides the inspection, how should this process be properly handled concerning registration and taxes?

It seems this would be a scary ordeal, handing over a large sum of money, without knowing you own what you think you bought. Please help me with a process to include the inspection.


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Old 07-20-2012, 11:37 AM   #2
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The legal part of the transfer is usually the same as purchasing a car. SOME states didn't title travel trailers in the distant past, and lots of people seem to take a very sloppy approach to titles when they're selling ("Bill of sale only" offers are common even in title states, because they've no idea where the title is.)

What other paperwork is involved depends on what state the trailer is titled in, and what state you live in. I'd recommend checking with the agency that manages vehicle titles and registration in your home state, they'll hopefully provide you with the forms you'll need and what requirements must be met. It might be as easy as finding the agency's website.

To give you the example for Texas, if you have a valid title from another state that's duly signed over to you, you have to surrender that plus sales taxes and registration & title fees to the State of Texas and they'll issue you Texas title as long as nothing fishy turns up in the process. It's easier if you have a bill of sale to go along with the title, though if they do it like they do cars for newer ones, they'll charge you the higher of the bill-of-sale value or the blue book value. When I bought the Argosy in 2011 they accepted the bill-of-sale value, but then a book value on a '75 would probably have been lower anyway!

The biggest thing to me would be not to buy anything sight-unseen. A used trailer might be in excellent as-described condition, there may be problems the seller genuinely doesn't know about, or they may be selling you a pig in a poke. There's no substitute for a trustworthy inspection of the trailer.

— David

Il Carriaggio — 1975 Argosy 24 | Il Progetto — 1976 Argosy 28 Center Bath | WBCCI# 15566

He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. — Sir Winston Churchill
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:56 AM   #3
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In Ohio, I had to have a VIN number verification prior to title transfer. I bought the trailer in Virginia.

I did learn a lesson. I really should be verifying the VIN before I hand over the check! What if there was a problem? I could be out a ton of money. I don't know if that is on any "inspection list", but it should be.
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:05 PM   #4
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It almost alway depends on the laws of your home state. Check with the department of motor vehicles in your state for what paperwork you will need from the seller.

I have bought several trailers from out of state, and Texas requires the title, a bill of sale, a cat scale certificate of weight, and VIN number inspection. They also require various statements from the buyer as you title and license it in Texas.

Your state may be altogether different, so do check with them.
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:48 PM   #5
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It might be worth checking the state you are getting the trailer from also to see if it should have a title with it already. If the state it's in doesn't require a title and yours does it will be tougher to deal with.
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Old 07-21-2012, 08:32 AM   #6
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We have decided to make South Dakota our home state. They make it very clear as to what it takes to register vehicles there. With the info provided here, which is most informative and useful, I feel comfortable moving forward no matter which we go, new or used.

Great community. Thanks

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