Can a dealer sell me a car without a title but register it for me and then give me the title when it comes in?

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Can a dealer sell me a car without a title but register it for me and then give me the title when it comes in?

I want to buy a car from a dealer for $2,700. The dealer said that he is waiting for the title to come in, however, he can get it registered since he is a dealer. He can then give me the title when it comes in. Is this a scam or a good deal for me?

Asked on February 12, 2011 under General Practice, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The issue is, does the dealer own the car and simply is lacking some paperwork, which he needs a new copy of; or does the dealer not yet own the car? If the latter, then the dealer can *not* sell you the car--no one can sell you something which they don't own. The most the dealer can do is contract with you that if and when he owns a certain car, he will sell it to you, which is not quite the same thing as actually selling the car.

In this case, it may be either a scam or at least ill-advised. If there is a problem with obtaining title, you will be in the position of having to give the car back to whomever does own it and then suing the dealer for the return of your money. While it's potentially *such* a good deal that it's worth taking a risk on, be aware that it is a risk, and the risk is on you--and also bear in mind that deals that seeem too good too be true often are.


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