Buying An RV Without A Title [Explained]

Buying an RV without a title could be trouble waiting to happen.

The certificate of title in the United States is a legal form or a document. It’s often called a “title” or a “pink slip”. This certificate provides any person or business proof of ownership of the RV. But should you buy an RV without a title? This article explains everything you will need to know.

What is an RV Title?

Owning an RV has become more and more popular over the past decade. The question always arises, “What is an RV Title?” An RV title is documentation that proves ownership of your vehicle. Whether you are purchasing or selling your RV, transferring it to another family member, or leasing it out, you will need to get an RV title before taking any other steps. When you purchase a new RV, the dealer will provide you with the required paperwork to complete the transaction.

An RV title is a document that includes the owner’s name and contact information, vehicle identification number, odometer reading, number of owners and the year and make of the vehicle.

You should be wary of buying an RV without the title as there is no proof that you actually own the RV that you are buying.

The rules on what you need an RV title for vary from state to state so check with the DMV for the state you are in. Some states like Ohio require you to have the RV title with you for driving in the state.

Should I Buy An RV Without A Title?

There are many reasons why an RV doesn’t have a title, I’ll explain these below. You will need to consider your situation and whether you trust the seller. 

If you are buying an RV off Craigslist and it doesn’t come with a title and you don’t know the seller then I would recommend that you carry on looking for an RV with a title. If the seller is a trusted family member or friend then you may be more willing to risk it.

If you buy an RV without a title then there is no legal proof that you are the owner, no matter how good the deal is, you should avoid buying an RV without a title.

Buying An RV

Why would an RV have No Title?

There are many reasons why an RV might not have a title, not all of them are because it’s stolen.

The RV is Old or Lost Its Paperwork

This is one of the most common reasons why an RV title may be missing. The RV could be old (in some cases vintage) and the title document has gotten lost over the years.

Also the paperwork could have been damaged or destroyed  by an accident, or even forgotten about over the years.

You bought the RV from a Private Seller

RVs bought from private sellers mean that the seller and the buyer have the responsibility of the paperwork for the RV. If you are both new to buying and selling vehicles than the important title document can be forgotten about.

On the other hand RVs bought from dealerships and direct from the manufacturer have systems in place to ensure all paperwork and legal documents are completed and filed correctly.

If you are buying an RV from a private seller then make sure that you do your research and ensure that all the paperwork is completed.

The RV was built from scratch

If the RV was built from scratch by the owner then it won’t have a title. If you have built your own RV or trailer then you can still get a title for it, these are called scrap titles.

The scrap title will prove that you are the owner of the RV that didn’t previously exist. A scrap title will also allow you get a VIN number for your RV or trailer.

The RV moved States

State laws differ to what RVs need titles, specifically trailers. In some states travel trailers under 3,000 pounds don’t legally need a title. If the trailer moves state and you buy it in a state that needs a title then there won’t be one.

Not so legal reasons an RV doesn’t have a title

Unfortunately there are some not so genuine reasons as to why an RV has no title. It could have been stolen.

If you buy a stolen RV then the police can confiscate it and will return it to the owner documented on the title. You won’t be entitled to any compensation.

Buying An RV Without Title

Why Would You Buy An RV That Doesn’t Have A Title?

If you’ve read the information above, you might be asking why would anyone buy an RV without a title! Well there are a few reasons:

DMV said they will grant you a title

You might know that you can get a title approved once you’ve bought it. If you check with the DMV before you purchase the RV and are assured that you will be granted a title then you might have just found yourself a great deal.

The RV has been built by the seller

If you know that the RV has been built from scratch by the seller and that’s the reason why it doesn’t have a title then you know it’s a valid reason. You can apply for a title when it’s in your ownership.

You trust the seller

If you know the seller and know that the title for the RV has been lost or there is a genuine reason why there is no title, then you should be able to apply for a new title once you’ve bought the RV.

If none of the above reasons apply to your situation then it is wise to continue looking for an RV that does have a title.

Buying An RV Without A Title – FAQs

How do you buy an RV from a private seller?

You can get a great deal when buying an RV from a private seller, but it’s important to do your research first.

Ask as many questions that you can think of, prepare a list of important questions before you go to look at it.

Get a professional to inspect the RV, unless you know the mechanics yourself.

Check for the title and VIN number with your local DMV.

Once you have all the information then you can negotiate the price, if the inspection shows some concerns then you should be able to get a reduced price.

Get your paperwork after purchase, make sure that you have received a bill of sale and the title for the RV once you have sent the money.

Should you pay cash for an RV?

Yes, if you can afford to pay cash for your RV then pay in cash. Financing RVs is expensive and if you can afford not to then it will save you a lot of money.

Final Thoughts

Unless you know that there is a genuine reason why the seller does not have the title for the RV you are buying then you should avoid it. Buying an RV without a title might look like a great deal on the surface but it could end up costing you a lot more in the long run.

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