Part III---As I stood there in front of the Clerk at the Tax Collector...by Steve Duhl 
Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 04:21 PM
Posted by Administrator
.......as I stood there in front of the Clerk at the Tax Collector, I realized that I had a problem. She said "The only way you are going to be able to register this is if the original buyer registers it in Pennsylvania and then transfers it to you." I didn't even know the seller...I had only met "his brother". I was not optimistic.

I called the brother. He called his brother. His brother texted me the name and address of the original Pennsylvania owner and, amazingly, that guy went to Pennsylvania's motor vehicle people, paid sales tax on a trailer he didn't own, paid for the registration and title for the trailer, signed it and FEDEX's it back to me.

Still, and in spite of my previous good experience... when I saw the Taiwansese scooter-seller only had an Appication For Title, I said "I'll come back on Tusday and we'll go up to the tax office together and fix this." He didn't understand what the problem was and I couldn't explain it: my Mandarin still was not so good.

On Tuesday, at the dorms outside of the St. Lucie International Airport I found out that the seller was leaving for Taiwan the next day (fly to Atlanta then 23 hours to Narita/Tokyo Airport then 1 hour to some town on the South Coast of Taiwan). Had I not dragged him down to the tag office, I would be trying to recreate the solution to the Pennsylvania-trailer problem.......but, this time, 3/4 of the way around the world.

So, I have learned: do your motor vehicle/scooter/boat/trailer transactions right there at the Tax Collector's Office. In fact, hand over the money at the Clerk's window and only once you are sure title is good. Should you run a check to make sure there are no Execution liens? Yeah, you should---especially with a big money item.

Is there any way to guaranty you are getting what you pay for? Probably not. Sellers of used items try to sell "as is" and that means that what you are buying doesn't have to run or work or not fall apart...unless the seller knew something about it that you couldn't have discovered and lied about it. On the other hand, sellers do warrant that they own what they are selling. So, if they can't get you good title, you can sue.

But, if what you are buying is worth enough to make it worthwhile to sue then it was worth enough to spend some time and effort to make sure the seller was able to pass good title.
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