My year of buying and selling cars on Craigslist

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by LASERBLUE135, Dec 23, 2015.

  1. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    I know this doesn't really fit "Subaru" discussion, but this is where I'm sticking it.

    *Please see rule #9
    I have to share this. At this time of the year, we look at the YEAR IN REVIEW or make NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS. I’m not sure it will help, but I’m guessing and certainly hoping there is someone out that that will read this and find it leading to success. NOTE: I’m not a mechanic. I’ve never changed the oil on my car. Not one time in my life. But I have a general understanding about what noises are not good, etc. You do NOT have to be a mechanic to do this.
    That was the advice from someone who thought the idea of investing in cars was a dumb idea. That person is WRONG. Here’s a little back story about me. I’m a Craigslist putzer. A bit of a junkie. Now I’m not the guy who buys everything on CL or who is constantly selling or posting. No, I simply give CL a look every day and see what is out there as far as car parts for my ride. Over the years I’ve stumbled upon deals on wheels, tires, carbon fiber bits, and other goodies at insanely cheap prices (about 10% of the retail price!). Basically I was just putzing.
    BUYING: Well in July of this year I got a new job. I had a whole week off, with no income. I wanted to figure out something to do over the week to make some money. I decided I would buy a car and sell it for a profit. As most new things go, you aren’t going to be the best on your first attempt. I decided on a 1998 Lexus for my first flip. The asking price was a bit over $1,000. My parents had driven Lexus cars when I was in high school and I remember being extremely excited whenever I had a chance to drive one. I thought, ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A LEXUS!!! This is going to be easy money. Well, I learn my first rule of CL buying. Cars ALWAYS look better in the pictures. And lesson #2, sellers ALWAYS leave some important details out. When I showed up the car was in rough shape, as you would imagine. But the seller had service records and it was in the family for many years, and there was some value to it. It ran OK, and it WAS A LEXUS! At the end of the test drive I decided that I would make an offer. I was going to ask, what I thought at the time, would be an absurdly lowball offer of $800. He said yes before I even finished my sentence. Rule #3, absurd lowball offers are ok! I learned later that a $500 offer would have likely bought this car for around $600.
    RULES FOR CL BUYING:
    #1, Cars ALWAYS look better in the pictures
    #2, Sellers ALWAYS leave some important details out
    #3, Absurd lowball offers are ok
    #4, Don’t wait. I’ve seen great deals gone within 7 minutes of posting
    #5, If I car hasn’t sold in a few days (look at the posting date) it’s not worth near the asking price. If they can’t sell it, why would you expect to sell it?
    #6, Important! Deals are out there because of many reasons: People don’t know the value of what they have, they just want to get the thing sold, they are moving/need money and have to sell. If it seems too good to be true… Who knows? Send a text message.
    #7, Buy with your head, not your heart. And be ready to walk away. I pass on about every other car I look at. I want the FIRST person who sees my car to buy it, at a significant profit. If I don’t think that will be the case. I walk away.
    #8, If the car needs something that you can’t provide immediately walk away. I have only fixed ONE thing on the cars that I bought. I sold 15 cars this year, and fixed ONE item, ONE time.
    *** #9, THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL! BE CAREFUL!!! Always tell someone where you’re going. Bring another person. Don’t flash cash. Have an escape route. I once found myself in an uncomfortable situation. I told the person that I loved the car and had to go to the bank to get the money. I simply drove away. BE PREPARE, BE CAREFUL!!!
    SELLING: I usually sell my cars within ONE DAY of the CL posting. I sell my cars at prices so low that sometimes they get flipped AGAIN by the people that buy them from me. And I still make a significant profit. I bought 15 cars this year SINCE JULY, so really in 6 months. The cheapest was $500 and the most expensive was $5,100. I look to make at least $1,000 profit on each car. Total spent was $30,490 and total sales were $49,100. After you take out title, insurance, tabs, maintenance, etc. I made a profit of over $16,000 in 6 months this year. That doesn’t factor in gas to travel to get the cars and it doesn’t include the big hit…INCOME TAX. But that’s not bad for just putzing. I enjoy what I’m doing. I find it fun. Of course it does get a bit frustrating dealing with sellers and especially buyers. But, I’ve found the process to be very easy and pretty stress free. I paid off two student loans in full, and am working on paying off the final student loan by the end of 2016.
    All 15 cars were Japanese makes and models. 11 of the 15 cost less than $2,000 and the other 4 were all WRX’s. The lowest profit (just purchase price minus sales price, NOT factoring in title fees etc) was $300 one time. $400 two other times. I broke $1000 11 out of 15 times.
    Lets go back to that Lexus. I paid $800 and listed it for sale at $2000. I got a little interest, but no buyers in 2 days and lowered the price to $1800. The first person drove it, decided they would buy it at my “bottom dollar” price of $1500. Have a bottom dollar in your mind ahead of time. I was fully expecting to not take a penny less than $1500. They counted out $1500 on the hood of the car, and went to open the door and it wouldn’t open! The driver door decided at that moment to lock itself. I was already counting a quick $700 profit at nearly 100% return on investment and that was all gone in the blink of an eye. They lowered the offer to $1200 and were ready to walk away if I didn’t say yes immediately. I took the deal. KNOW WHEN TO TAKE THE DEAL. Before I had a good running Lexus to sell. Now I had a car that you had to crawl through the passenger door to drive. Had they walked away that would have been something that I would have either had to fix, or come up with a really good sales pitch.
    There are other good rules for selling. The basics start with taking good pictures. I post about 8 photos per car, but can ad more or less depending on how good the pictures are. If the engine doesn’t look good in the photo I skip putting it in the ad. Be honest in your ad about what might need maintenance. Advertise your price verses other cars in the market. I like to mention what the dealer value is, as its normally much much higher than the private value. State that you will not hold the car for any reason and first with cash takes it. Stress the best features like brand new tires, extra clean interior, or full maintenance records. State the negatives, but don’t stress them. “Needs a bit of TLC”, or if the rear window doesn’t go down you might say “The rear windows don’t work, but I would never use them anyways”.
    RULES FOR CL SELLING:
    #1, Keep very good records!!!!!! I can not stress this enough! Make a copy, or take a photo with your phone, of driver’s licenses and title paperwork. I got a letter from the City of Jordan asking me to deal with a gas station drive off for a car I sold a week earlier. I made one phone call with the name of the buyer, date sold, and gave the buyer’s phone number and that cleaned up that issue right then and there.
    #2, The radius of cars to the Metro matters. A car in Ham Lake will be MUCH harder to sell than in Minneapolis. I live near the center of the Metro, so I have a better chance of selling. I buy a lot of my cars for cheap out the outskirts of the Metro because people have a hard time selling them.
    #3, Know your BOTTOM LINE. Try to be firm. If your bottom line is realistic, your buyer will likely agree to it. However, see rule #4.
    #4, Know when to take the cash in front of you. Don’t lose a sale over $100. If something comes up that you weren’t aware of during the test drive, understand that could be a factor in your negotiations and you might have to alter your bottom line.
    #5, Stress the positives, and take time to make the best ad you possibly can. DON’T give too many details or make it too long. Most buyers don’t read the whole ad anyways!
    If you’ve gotten this far, I hope you got something out of this. I’ve found insanely good deals on CL. I have sold a car for nearly 3 times what I paid for it. Even if you factor in my time, gas, fees, and everything else that’s a great return on investment. The state of MN says you can only sell 5 cars per year. There are 100% legal ways around that, but I won’t be giving them here. Just think about it for a second. You might be thinking I'm asking people to get in the way of my market, but the Twin Cities has plenty of market to go around. Have a wonderful holiday season and a great 2016.
     
  2. W02RX
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    W02RX Well-Known Member

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    .
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2015
  3. euro
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    euro Well-Known Member

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    seems obvious for anyone who's bought/sold a car on craigslist ever, but then again the guy i bought my RX-7 from wasn't exactly a rocket scientist.
     
  4. ShortytheFirefighter
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    ShortytheFirefighter Pokemans. I has none. Staff Member

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    Did I miss the part where you applied for and got your dealer license for the state of MN?
     
  5. Nhibbs
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    Nhibbs Well-Known Member

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    I started doing this in the last year as well but much more casually and I never paid more than $500 for a vehicle and they all needed a bit of work done (some a lot more than others).
    I sold two cars in MN and then moved down to Atlanta in May and tried doing the same thing down here but the laws down here make it very hard to make a good profit because every time you transfer a title to your name you pay 7% of the "Fair market value" which was 10x what I paid for the car in the case of a $300 2001 honda civic I bought down here. So I had to pay $250 in just title transfer tax so I decided not to do this anymore unless it is a crazy good deal.
     
  6. Nhibbs
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    Nhibbs Well-Known Member

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    I think this part is the missing link: "The state of MN says you can only sell 5 cars per year. There are 100% legal ways around that, but I won’t be giving them here."
    I have no idea what those loopholes are or if they are legal.
     
  7. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    Looked into it. Didn't need it. Don't need it.
     
  8. Nhibbs
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    Nhibbs Well-Known Member

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    To be clear, do you transfer the title and register the car and pay insurance on it when you "flip" them?
    I always did all of that and I am pretty sure its definitely absolutely totally not legal to "flip" cars without doing all of that if you don't have a dealer license...
     
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  9. pillboy
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    pillboy Well-Known Member

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    I'd buy from Mike Brewer and Edd China any day of the week before this guy.
     
  10. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    Yes. I take the title to the DMV. Register it and title it and insure it. I work at a police station and the head of the local DMV visits my office every day. Obama himself could buy my cars as well as the head of the MN DMV. Any of you worried that I'm not being regulated enough can relax. Anyone can do what I do, which is the point of my post. Have a Merry Christmas.
     
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  11. Nhibbs
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    Nhibbs Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough. The term "Flippers" tend to have a bad connotation because a lot of them don't transfer titles and a lot are very shady.
    I am still not clear on the legality of selling more than 6+ cars per year but I know MN is much much more friendly to private sales than most states (I didn't realize GA was so rediculous until I tried doing this here). The license plate follows the owner here too so it doesn't matter if the registration is up to date, you pay no matter what.
    Personally I feel better about the whole thing when I have put some sweat equity into the vehicle being "flipped" to at least know it is safe to drive for the foreseeable future. But $16k of extra income in 6 months is pretty impressive.
     
  12. Chux
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    Chux Well-Known Member

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    I've looked into this fairly closely, as I flip a couple cars a year (although I buy them needing work, and repair them). And will probably do more once I have a decent place to work on/store them


    The DVS website with the layman's terms of a dealer's license says anyone who sells more than 5 cars a year. https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/Pages/motor-vehicle-dealers.aspx

    But the actual statutes (168.27) never say a number. They do, however, say "(b) No person shall engage in the business of selling used motor vehicles". Obviously that is vague, but I think if you're making enough to report income taxes, which you implied you do, you don't really have any leverage to say your not in the "business".

    It's a cool story, and some good tips for someone doing it occasionally, but you left out the truly difficult parts. What's the cut off for a dealer's license? And how do you report income taxes?


    So, you should have an intricate understanding of those truly difficult parts....so would you share some of the details? At what point do you have to worry about having a dealer's license (the above-listed statute clearly states that violation is a misdemeanor)? How do you claim income taxes?
     
  13. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    Tax is simple. If you haven't owned the car for a year, it's a standard "short term capital gain". I own these cars from 3-12 days so that definitely qualifies. I pay regular income tax rates on the profit. That tax for me is 15-25% depending on how much money I make over the year. And I wouldn't call it a business. I would call it more of a hobby.
     
  14. Jerf
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    Jerf Well-Known Member

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    Im confused, if you own these cars for 3-12 days and you title them and insure them, how are you reselling the car without the title being in your hand as the title will still show the original sellers name on it? Also if this is all true I would really hate to be your insurance agent....
     
  15. tangledupinblu
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    tangledupinblu Event Coordinator Staff Member

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    LOL
     
  16. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    I feel we have moved a little bit into the hand holding phase of questions. You should all know how to buy and sell a car and how to insure it. You can insure a car online in less than 2 minutes using a thing called the internet. I can add and drop a car with about 3 total mouse clicks. You can sell a car any time after you buy it. I have sold a car in 2 or 3 days. You can do this with a "bill of sale". It takes about 6 days to receive a title in the mail, so sometimes, I would need to deliver the title after the car has sold. I hope you are out of excuses. If you need a few extra bucks this is a fast and easy way to do it.
     
  17. ShortytheFirefighter
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    ShortytheFirefighter Pokemans. I has none. Staff Member

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    I'd still like an answer as to how you're skirting the dealer license requirements, because if you're wanting to brag about potentially illegal activities on our site, we can move to the "delete the thread and ban the OP" phase.
     
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  18. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    Are you serious? Do you want to ban everyone who breaks the speed limit?

    This thread was done as a Christmas gift to the members of MNSubaru. I get NOTHING out of it. I am breaking NO laws. This thread would only cost me money! Do you get that? Does that make sense? Do whatever you want. I'm simply disgusted at your post.

    Bottom line, I did this in 2015. It was amazing!!! You can do it if you want to. It's 100% legal. You, your spouse, your children, you best friends, and all your family members could do this and make thousands of dollars in extra income with very little skill, very little work, and very little risk. You're welcome.
     
  19. ShortytheFirefighter
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    ShortytheFirefighter Pokemans. I has none. Staff Member

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    You've been asked directly and repeatedly how you're getting around the dealer license requirements that clearly state if you're selling more than 5 cars in a year, then you need a dealer license, and you've ducked the question each time, or given some vague and silly answer like "I work at a police station" that doesn't actually answer the question.
     
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  20. Nhibbs
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    Nhibbs Well-Known Member

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    Dealer licenses are kinda spendy and you need special insurance which is a few thousand per year I think. I also find it hard to believe this is all completely legal. There must be some liability or grey area where you could potentially get in trouble.
     
  21. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    So ban me for that. That makes sense, above alllllll the other person information I've given. Also, the actual LAW doesn't even state that! YOU are doing the right thing? and I'M doing the wrong thing? I'm done. I've done my part. I openly discuss what I do with the HEAD OFFICIAL OF THE DMV!
     
  22. Nhibbs
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    Nhibbs Well-Known Member

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    If anyone could really 100% legally flip this volume of cars then why would anyone pay for a dealer license and the associated insurance etc?
    I feel like this is kinda like medical marijuana in Colorado or California. It's technically legal on a state level but if you catch someone's attention the Feds can lock you up.
     
  23. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    Dealer licenses are cheap, but you need lots of things that most people don't have. Like a building. You need a license to set up a lemonade stand. What I do is MORE LEGAL anyway you look at it than kids selling lemonade on the corner.
     
  24. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    I am 100% legal. Not 99.9%. There is no area that I operate in that is illegal. Some might attempt to "interpret" what I do as illegal. Like calling it a business versus a hobby. I understand that. But by the letter of the law I'm legal.
     
  25. phi11
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    phi11 Well-Known Member

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    Thats exactly what someone would say, who is illegal. Lol
     
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  26. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    The fact that I went into such detail, that I truly tried to be as helpful as possible. And got this much heat is very alarming to me. My end game is to be helpful. What is your endgame guys? To try and figure out some reason why people shouldn't do this? Why would you do that? Its bizarre, and wrong.
     
  27. Krazylegz1485
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    Krazylegz1485 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you so much for the Christmas present!
     
  28. Subie Lovers
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    Subie Lovers Well-Known Member

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    Bunch of Radical Islamist... They don't give a flying Fu K about Xmas... They just want to shiite on yours...

     
  29. TMF
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    TMF Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad my original post could bring about this thread. Merry Christmas everyone!
     
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  30. Subie Lovers
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    Subie Lovers Well-Known Member

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    You should change your name to RFM
     
  31. Nhibbs
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    Nhibbs Well-Known Member

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    Wut?
     
  32. pillboy
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    pillboy Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering the same thing.
     
  33. blackozone
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    blackozone Well-Known Member

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    Not to add fuel to the fire, but here's the concern everyone has:
    https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/fo...s/Dealer-ThoseRequiredtoHaveDealerLicense.pdf
    Specifically, Pg. 1:
    Now this lends some interpretation, as we need to define a "wholesale or retail" sale to proceed with understanding if this kind of activity is legal. The average person is going to be apprehensive and stop at the "five motor vehicles" part. Getting butthurt and overly defensive isn't doing you favors, it just makes you look shady. People are looking for clarity and transparency here, and you're not helping yourself.

    Let's look closer at Minnesota Statute 168.27, Subd. 1 (9) and Minnesota Statute 168.27, Subd. 8 (2):
    https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=168.27
    So here again, the law isn't 100% in defining the situation you're in. On one hand, it would seem that a person can do this sort of thing under the allowance of MN law, and I would certainly see it this way if I wanted to do this same thing. However, if I think of this from the side of a state prosecuting attorney, I believe there would be a significant case as well. Ultimately, this is another example of the law being left open to interpretation for lawyers to debate (MN law is full of vague definitions, especially in motor vehicle laws). Basically, this seems to be not illegal until proven so. While I wouldn't say that you're committing a crime (I'm not a DA), I believe this law is set up in such a way that if you were charged, the courts would be within the law to prosecute. At the least, you'd have a bit of work ahead to prove your innocence (and I think it would be the case, but at cost to you for attorneys). Sadly, an attorney would need to be consulted to confirm if this is illegal or not, and it probably depends on the trend of judges in your area on how they view these cases.
     
  34. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    And while I understand and appreciate that argument, as was stated earlier it is absolutely against the law to set up a lemonade stand. We normally don't attempt to prosecute kids who sell lemonade, but sometimes you see it in the news. It's again completely illegal to go 1 mph over the speed limit. But, we generally don't go crazy and threaten to ban people who make mention that they go over the speed limit from time to time. These are illegal things to do. No grey area.

    I, on the other hand, have done the legwork. I have researched the law and have discussed with the proper authorities. Some could absolutely interpret the law another way, but that's just a mere possibility... All of that and I posted this with the intention that 2016 will be upon us in a few days and someone might just be interested in making some easy extra money this year.

    So that's my problem. Unless you swear to never break any laws ever, and are going to frown at kids selling lemonade, don't frown on any grey areas.
     
  35. euro
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    euro Well-Known Member

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    would read again
     
  36. Jerf
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    Jerf Well-Known Member

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    Laughable at the least; 6 days for our loving State of MN to reissue and mail you a title. And selling a car without having the title, I don't know what group you are selling these cars too but I would hope no one would buy a car from someone pretending to casually sell their personal car and not have the title when they decide to buy it. The reason the State wants you to be licensed is for accountability and revenue reasons, and of course instead of small gains you now have to consider business income taxes. Also your first post mentions knowing how to do this 100% legally but you won't discuss on here and then on the second hand you say you personally talked with the head of the DMV about what you do. Can you explain how I get free car washes at Holiday?
     
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  37. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    http://www.thepennyhoarder.com/making-money-with-used-cars/

    Not exactly how I do it, but a good read for anyone in need of easy money.

    And it takes 6 to 7 days to get a title, without fail.

    And occasionally I do sell a car before I get the title. I wouldn't buy one like that, but it happens. I have run into an issue where I bought a car that had a DUPLICATE title issued. The title I got was the old title and was no longer good anymore. I had to have the seller find the new title. I also got a title that said there were no leans, but the DMV found a lean when I tried to title the car, so again I had to go back to the seller for a lean release card, which they luckily had. Either of these situations could have ended badly for me, which is why this is low risk and not no risk. If possible always go with the seller to the DMV. I have found this is very rarely an option as most people work during the day and are most available in the evening.

    No help with the free car washes. Sorry.
     
  38. ShortytheFirefighter
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    ShortytheFirefighter Pokemans. I has none. Staff Member

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    If you're not smart enough to see the difference between someone talking about speeding on a public forum, and potential fraud then I'm not sure how to hold your hand for this discussion. I'm not seeing how 15 car sales in 5 months can be counted as "occasional", and by your own statements, you're doing this as a revenue generating source. Also, your motives for this thread are a bit conflicted, to say the least. You keep saying that this thread was just meant to be a "gift", but it looks like you really just wanted to come on here and tell people that they were wrong, and that you can make money doing this. You have been asked repeatedly and directly how you're avoiding the dealer requirement, and you keep dodging the questions.
     
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  39. Jerf
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    Jerf Well-Known Member

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    He slightly answered the question by posting a link to a page that discusses having friends transfer the title to avoid running so many through his own name.
     
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  40. Chux
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    Chux Well-Known Member

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    Then please share. That's all we're asking. The law seems to be pretty black and white, 5 cars in a 12 month period is legit. 6 or more without a dealer's license is a misdemeanor (I've read the statute many times, and missed the part that blackozone quoted here specifically defining "occasional sales" as "not more than five"). You keep saying you have some insider information on the contrary, but refuse to share. You wrote a textbook on some of the basics of buying and selling a car (some I agree with, some I don't....but overall I think it's helpful), and you don't seem to hesitate writing paragraph after paragraph saying that you know you're legal, and you could sell to Obama, and speed limits, and lemonade stands, but you resist writing a few sentences to just directly answer the question.

    You keep saying stuff like this, which makes it sound like you know it's a little illegal. Which is one thing if you're doing it yourself....another thing entirely if you're going to write a how-to on it.



    Every title I've gotten has taken months, except the one where I paid for the expedited processing, and it still took 10 business days.

    Also, I'm pretty sure the government (IRS, DVS, local council, etc) would happily consider $16k of pure profit in 6 months for one person to be a business.

    While I'm nit-picking....."Lean" is what a tree does before it falls over. "Lien" is what a bank does to a title.
     
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  41. Jerf
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    Jerf Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  42. ShortytheFirefighter
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    ShortytheFirefighter Pokemans. I has none. Staff Member

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    I'm not a lawyer, but that sounds just a wee bit fraudulent to me.
     
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  43. LASERBLUE135
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    LASERBLUE135 Well-Known Member

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    "sounds fraudulent" is the problem here. Lets try and stay black and white. If something "sounds" "seams" "could be" then its not helpful. You could partner up with someone, as stated in the article and you would be fine within the letter of the law. That's not how I do it, and that is personal. I'm not going to tell you how I do it. Its similar for sure.

    And I never said you have to do umpteen cars. You can do up to 5 cars and still make $3k - $10k. That's not bad at all. For some people that's big money. You can get around the 5 car minimum and make more, like I do. Either way, its legit. I really think we've covered all the basis of the laws.
     
  44. ShortytheFirefighter
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    ShortytheFirefighter Pokemans. I has none. Staff Member

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    Apparently you don't get sarcasm either.

    Pity.

    So, how many partners do you have?
     
  45. Chux
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    Chux Well-Known Member

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    HOW?!
     

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