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Logistics of buying from private seller

I found a car on craigslist I think I want to buy. I talked to the seller on the phone. He’s an hour away from me. (In our area, that’s considered a lot.) Problem: I want to bring it to my mechanic to check it out. But the seller, understandably, finds it inconvenient to drive up here. How can we put my payment in some sort of escrow so that he has the peace of mind that I’m not stealing his car? If I give him a cashier’s check, on the understanding that we’ll cancel the deal if the mechanic finds defects, I won’t have peace of mind.

This is what I do:

Agree on a price, give the seller a personal check (around $500) and sign a sales agreement (see below). The agreement gives me a day or two to have a pre-purchase inspection. If it fails, I return the car and the seller returns my check. If it passes, I give the seller a certified check for the full amount and he returns my personal check. I’ve bought over 10 cars in the past 10 years using this method.



A personal check deposit in the amount of $_______________ is hereby acknowledged by ___________________, (?Seller?) received from ______________________________ (?Buyer?), for the sale of the automobile described below. Buyer has until _________ to perform a pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle at buyer?s cost. If the vehicle does not meet buyer?s approval seller agrees to immediately refund buyer?s deposit. If the pre-purchase inspection meets with buyer?s approval, buyer agrees to provide seller with a certified check in the amount of $ and seller agrees to return buyer?s deposit check.

Automobile Description
Odometer reading:

Seller is the true and lawful owner of the above-described automobile, which is free and clear of all liens and encumbrances. Seller has full power, right and lawful authority to dispose of this vehicle. The odometer has not been disconnected or altered while in possession of the Seller.

The above-described vehicle is sold ?AS IS? and ?WITH ALL FAULTS?. Buyer hereby acknowledges, and Seller hereby expressly disclaims any and all warranties, either expressed or implied, including any implied warranties of merchantability, and neither assumes nor authorizes any other person to assume for it any liability in connection with the sale of this vehicle. Seller is not the original owner of the vehicle, does not have a complete history on the vehicle and does not warrantee the vehicle?s condition, mileage, suitability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Buyer accepts full liability for the vehicle, damages, and any third party liability incurred from the vehicle use from the date of sale. Buyer takes ownership of the vehicle and assumes all responsibility for its transport at the time full payment is made to Seller.

Any representations or statements that may have been made regarding the automobile have no bearing on the sale unless specifically included in writing in this Agreement.

The laws of the State of Colorado shall govern the terms and conditions of this Purchase Agreement and Bill of Sale.

(Seller) (Buyer)

Date							Date

Address: Address:

PayPal could work. It was partly built for the kind of transaction where each party needs to make sure the other isn’t going to stiff them. I have used paypal but never bothered to look at how it works.

PayPal might work, but the fees can be high if this is an expensive car. Perhaps you can find a mechanic nearby to the seller’s location.

What “level” of car are you buying??

I don’t know why you can’t use someone local. Leave your car with him while you check it out or he can go with. No one is taking personal checks anymore, and cashiers checks are questionable now with so many scams. They look real and after two weeks when the bank finds out they are fake, the car is long gone and so is your money.