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  • State Regulations in Colorado

    Selling Your Car

    When someone finally manages to read and call the scribbled number on the "for sale" sign taped in the back window of your car and makes an offer, you officially have a buyer―or at least a potential buyer since you may not accept the price offered. Regardless, once you do accept a deal and are ready to part with a vehicle, there are certain documents that the State of Colorado requires you to bestow upon the buyer:

    • Colorado Certificate of Title―The document should be in your name (if there is more than one owner listed, all parties must sign off on the form). Fill in the information requested in the seller's box on the back of the title, sign, and print your name. Also, write in the address and name of the buyer.
    • If the vehicle being sold is 10 years old or less, a valid odometer reading is required.
    • If the buyer resides in an emissions region, it is the seller's responsibility to provide a current inspection certificate.
    • A bill of sale listing the buyer's name, agreed upon purchase amount, vehicle identification number (VIN), and the year and make of the vehicle.

    Note: The seller will keep the license plates. The buyer is responsible for obtaining a temporary permit.

    Buying From a Private Party

    When you buy a vehicle from a private party you need to make sure you receive everything that the state of Colorado requires a seller to provide. The seller is responsible for:

    • Handing over the Certificate of Title with the name of the seller(s) signed and printed. If you are purchasing a car or truck that has been around for some time, the title might require notarization of the signatures. The state has a Statement of Transfer form that allows the notary process to be skipped. Also, make sure that the "buyer's box" on the title has your name and address listed in it as the new owner.
    • Providing a bill of sale listing the buyer's name, agreed upon purchase amount, vehicle identification number (VIN), and the year and make of the vehicle. This document might need to be notarized if it does not contain a signed perjury statement.
    • Supplying an odometer reading if the vehicle is less than 10 years old. This can just be written into the box provided on the back of the title.
    • Producing a passing emissions inspection certificate, if you are living in an emissions region.

    Buying or Selling a Vehicle Without a Title

    Generally you cannot buy or sell a vehicle without a title, because the title proves ownership and is necessary to retitle and register the vehicle in the new owner's name.

    A couple of exceptions do exist, but only when buying vehicles from Canada, where the registration document serves as proof of ownership. The other exception is when you buy from a dealership and receive a certificate of origin, which you can use to register the vehicle until the title is processed.

    Thus, if you are selling a vehicle in Colorado and have lost or misplaced your certificate of title, first apply to the registration office in your county for a duplicate before proceeding with the sale.

    If you buy a vehicle without a title or want to sell a vehicle and can't get a duplicate a title because you never had one in the first place, you need to establish ownership via a surety bond.

    The seller is not required to provide the buyer with a registration certificate.

    Buying From a Dealer

    Depending on whose statistics you read, the average price of a new car these days is in the $20,000 to $25,000 range. Sporty imports and monster SUVs tend to run considerably higher, while certain domestic economy and compact models appear on the lower end of the scale. But what all these numbers mean at the end of the day is that the price of a new car ranks just below a house on the list of major purchases.

    Buying a car, or heading onto the grounds of a dealership, also sits high on the list (up there with skydiving and standardized tests) of intimidating things prone to cause anxiety-ridden panic. The key to making an educated decision and knowing how to handle the overall buying situation is research.

    Guides and Other Resources

    There is plenty of information out there via magazines, talk radio, buying guides, and the Internet that will enable you to develop into a confident and skilled buyer equipped to make smart choices in the negotiating and financing stages.

    The Federal Trade Commission's informative online guide covers the car-buying process in depth and with creativity.

    The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) also provides a comprehensive list of important buying tips for consumers looking to purchase a vehicle from a dealership. Some of the tips will also come in handy when you consider a purchase from a private party.

    In addition to offering the buying guide, the DMV has an informative section on leasing vs. buying a vehicle. This FAQ offers insight into an often confusing and difficult decision-making process.

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