Herein is a full account of how I went about purchasing my RV from a private seller out of state, including what paperwork needed to be filled out, how to legally drive it home, and how to go about registering it when it is home. Also included are pictures of my very first fix: patching a hole in the roof.
So as I was saying, last Monday I made three rather important stops in preparation for bringing the Casita home. First I went to the SC DMV to figure out how to legally bring the trailer home from Florida. They told me call the FL DMV, where I learned that I needed to bring the title and bill of sale in to a DMV down there to be issued a temporary permit for the price of $7.50 to drive it back up to SC (SC’s temporary permit costs $5, it varies by state).
After that I stopped in at Geico where I have my truck insured to get a quote for the RV. The cost for insuring it for 6 months using it only part time (I told them 20 days a year since I won’t be living in it right away) came out to about $140. I went ahead and told them to start the policy on Thursday so it’d be covered on the drive home, and they told me if I decided not to buy it for any reason just let them know and they’d cancel it. Later on when I’m living in the RV full-time I’ll be calling them back to change the policy for the correct coverage, or possibly stopping it all together and going with a different insurer.
Lastly I stopped at the storage place since I’d never seen it in person before. It had good fencing and cameras, I was satisfied with the condition of the facility. I asked them if I had to fill out the paperwork ahead of time for my spot but they said no, I’d do that when I brought the trailer.
Tuesday and Wednesday I worked, but I did a few other things as well in preparation. I searched on Google maps for possible places to stay Thursday night on the way back home. I wanted someplace where I wouldn’t have to back up the Casita since I’ve had no trailer driving experience at all and figured it’ll take some practice to be able to back it up. I decided on a WalMart just across the boarder into GA, but also had a couple truck stops mapped out too in case I needed to stop earlier or later.
The owners said they wanted the money as a cashier’s check, so I got that from my bank on Wednesday. Just a note: for a cashier’s check you need to have it printed out with the receiving party’s name on it, I didn’t realize this and had to drive back to my apartment to make sure I spelled the owner’s name right.
Thursday was the big day. I was on the road by 7am and was alternating between excitement and nervousness on the drive down. I arrived about a half-hour early which gave me time to stop at Arby’s for lunch, mmm curly fries.
When buying an RV from a private seller, there are some important things you have to remember to do that you don’t have to worry about when purchasing from a dealer. You first want to go over the title to make sure it looks clear. Check that the RV information and VIN number are correct, that it’s in the seller’s name, and that it has no liens on it. You both also need to make sure that the title is properly filled out and signed over. What all needs to be filled in varies from state to state. In this case, the previous owner needed to fill in the purchase date, write the purchase price, and sign. I just needed to sign. If this had been a motorhome, the odometer reading would also have been required.
Next up was the Bill of Sale. This was not required by law in Florida, but was recommended and I needed to have it to get the temporary permit. What this form is is a statement that the vehicle or trailer in question has passed ownership from one person to the next. There is no set way that it had to look in my case, but it usually includes the make, model, year, and VIN of the vehicle/RV, the date of purchase and price, and the printed and signed names of the owner and the purchaser. Some also have the license plate number of the vehicle/RV, and the address, phone number, and driver’s license number of both the owner and the purchaser.
After these two things were filled out, I offered to go with the owners to their bank to deposit the cashier’s check as a measure of good faith that it was legitimate, but they said it wouldn’t be necessary. So instead we went down to the FL DMV with the title and bill of sale to get my temporary permit.
It was my understanding from talking with them on the phone that the permit was going to cost $7.50 and that I’d be paying the sales tax once I went to register the RV up in SC, but apparently that wasn’t the case. They wanted me to pay the sales tax down in FL for the permit, which I wasn’t keen on doing because I thought I’d be paying again once I got up to SC. This is a good example of things not always going according to plan. When faced with this dilemma, the owners offered to let me use their plate to get the Casita up to SC instead, which was very generous of them. I asked the lady at the DMV if this was allowable and she said it was, so that’s what we did with the understanding that once I had it registered up in SC that I’d mail the plate back down to the previous owners.
Once we got back, it was time to hitch up the Casita and start on my first of many adventures. Besides having to flip the ball on the standard hitch around so that it had a 2” rise instead of a 2” drop, it went well. All the lights worked and my brake controller knew what it was doing even if I didn’t. I said my goodbyes to the previous owners who were so happy to see it go to someone who was going to enjoy it. They told me to let them know through e-mail when I made it home and to keep in touch if I had any questions. All and all I’d been there about two and a half hours, I left around 4:30pm.
The first few miles were pretty funny. I was driving extremely slow and was afraid of every turn, I probably annoyed everyone who had the misfortune of driving behind me. I had so much on my mind that I forgot to fill up the gas tank in the truck before hitching up so I had to get gas before I left Palm Harbor, which was also a bit of an adventure since I was afraid of having to back up and gas stations in the city usually aren’t as large.
But it went well. The farther I drove the less I worried about something horrible happening. The Casita really does tow very well with my Dakota, I had no issues with breaking or with swaying. When semis passed me on the interstate I could feel it, but I never felt like I was in danger of losing control. Unlike the previous weekend when my roommate and I had driven down to look at it, there was little wind which helped a lot I think.
I made it to the WalMart in St. Marys, GA at about 10pm. I took a bit of video of my first night in the Casita, it’s very dark and hard to see but I’ll post it up anyway. The next morning I awoke to sunny and muggy conditions. The bright sunlight revealed a missing rivet located on the roof near the microwave, apparently a common place to be missing one. It looked like it had been patched before, but the patch was cracking. I called my roommate and asked her what the weather forecast for the day was: a chance of showers and thunderstorms, becoming more likely in the afternoon. Poop. Well, at least I was camped at a WalMart. I went inside and bought a tall step ladder, some duct tape, and a pair of scissors. It’d do the trick for now.
The rain held off until I made it back to Bluffton, where I chickened out and went with one of the other storage facilities I had looked at instead, the price was higher but it was a much larger place and wouldn’t require backing up into a spot.
After dropping the trailer off I started the process of registering the RV by going to the Auditor to get the value assessed for property taxes, they also needed to know where the trailer was going to be kept, so I gave them the address of the storage facility. They looked up the value in their computer system and assessed it at, get this, $1,230. Apparently no one told them that molded fiberglass trailers last longer and hold their value better than stick built ones, but I’m not complaining. My property taxes amounted to $26, I paid up at the treasurer (located in the same building) and they gave me a receipt to take over to the DMV to pay the sales tax, title and registration fee, and get the actual license plate. As a note, not all states charge a property tax on vehicles and RVs, SC is just special like that. When I lived in Wisconsin, there was no property tax and the whole registration process was done entirely at the DMV. Just do a little searching ahead of time to see what all you need to do in your state.
By this point it was 3:45pm on Friday, and as I drove over to the DMV the rain started, big time. There was a very long wait and it was only open until 5pm, so I decided to call that off and head back Monday morning when there would be less people around. I drove back home through a thunderstorm and stopped back at the Casita to check for leaks and found nothing, yay!
So today it was back to the DMV to finish the registration. They needed the title, bill of sale, and property tax receipt. The total cost for registration and title was $25, there is a certain size at which the cost is more, but with a GVWR of 3,500 that was all I needed to pay. I asked about the sales tax and learned that when buying from a private party I didn’t need to pay it at the DMV. I guess that means that paying for it down in FL was the correct course of action, oops. This doesn’t mean that I get out of paying sales tax on it, it just means that when I go through my 2012 taxes early next year I’ll have to report it as an out of state purchase that wasn’t taxed and pay the taxes then. They gave me the registration slip, the license plate, and the stickers to put on my license plate, and if it’s anything like buying the truck was I’ll be getting a new SC title for it in the mail in a few weeks.
And that concludes the first phase of ownership of my Casita. The next step, which I started over the weekend, was taking pictures of areas on the exterior that I think might require a bit of fixing that I want to take care of before I go camping in it. It’s possible that post will show up as early as Thursday.
Oh, and no the Casita doesn’t have a name yet, but it will in the future, once I’ve thought of one I like. Any comments or questions? Ask below!
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