When buying or selling a new or used car in Maryland, you need to do your homework well. You need to be equipped with enough information to help you decide the best car for you. Research on the various buyers guides, magazines and motor vehicle blogs to determine the car that is in line with your taste, lifestyle and budget. You also need to research on the insurance costs, vehicle values and crash test results. Once you buy the car, you will need to register and title it in your name. Be sure you have all the paperwork needed in order to register your car with the Maryland DMV.

The Transaction

To transfer vehicle ownership from the seller to the new owner, there are certain documents that have to change hands.

Title

The title is the most important document of vehicle sale. If it is missing, ask the seller to apply for a duplicate copy and assign it to you during the time of sale. To do so, the seller needs to complete Form VR-018 (Application for Duplicate Certificate of Title) and submit it to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Otherwise, you and the seller will need to visit a vehicle licensing office to register and title a vehicle whose title is missing. You will be required to complete and submit an Affidavit in Lieu of Title form. Be sure to take with you proof of vehicle ownership. For information on vehicle selling or purchasing, contact the Maryland MVA customer representative at (800) 492-4575 or (410) 768-7000 What Information should the seller include on the title?

  • Record the buyer's name and address.
  • Record the agreed price of the vehicle and the date.
  • Record the current odometer reading.
  • Sign and print your name.

What to do if you are the buyer?

  • Verify the seller’s name and address.
  • Verify the purchase price and odometer reading.
  • Complete Form VR-005 (Application for Certificate of Title) and submit it to the Maryland MVA office.
  • Sign and print your name.

Bill of Sale

If you plan to sell your vehicle to a private party rather than a dealership, first you need to prepare the bill of sale and sign it over to the buyer. The bill of sale acts as proof of vehicle sale and can be used as a sales receipt. You need to give the buyer the original bill of sale and remain with a copy. This document must be signed by you and the buyer.

Notes to the Seller

You will need to remove the license plates from the vehicle that you have sold. You can then use them on your new vehicle that you own or return them to the DMV. You will also need to notify the Maryland DMV and insurance company of the sale that you have made. After notifying your insurance provider, they will cancel your insurance policy.

Notes to the Buyer

You can’t drive your newly purchased vehicle without a title. You will need a temporary permit which is available from the DMV and valid for 30 days. To apply for this kind of permit, you will need to take the Bill of sale, seller’s title and driver’s license to the Maryland DMV office. Your new vehicle will also need to be inspected. You can use the temporary permit obtained from the DMV to drive it to the inspection centers.

Savvy Buying Tips

  • Before purchasing a vehicle, have it inspected by a qualified mechanic.
  • If you are purchasing a used car from a dealer, request the name and address of the previous owner.
  • Bear in mind that highly priced vehicles do not translate to safety or reliability of the vehicle.
  • Order the vehicle history report of the car you are purchasing. This report contains detailed information about the vehicle accident history, damage and repair history, odometer readings and VIN.
  • If you are purchasing in installments, be sure that you can afford the monthly installments.
  • Make sure the VIN on the vehicle you are purchasing matches the one on the title.
  • Insist on agreement contact made in writing.
  • The best deals for new cars usually occur between the months of July through October. This is the period when dealers are desperately trying to create new space for new models. You can also get a good deal during late December, when salesmen are desperately trying to reach their target of the year.
  • Make sure all contracts are in written.