Vehicles aren't necessarily common finds at storage auctions, but they are found from time to time. From cars to ATVs, boats and tractors, these vehicles pose a unique challenge to buyers. Unless you plan to simply scrap the vehicle and sell it for parts, you will need a title for it. The title is necessary when registering, insuring or re-selling the vehicle, so your hands are tied until you can resolve the matter of a missing title.
First, know that in order to buy a vehicle at auction, it must be known to be free of lien. The storage facility will check with the DMV to see whether the car is paid off. If it's still in a lien holder's interests, it cannot be auctioned off with the rest of the contents. If it is free of liens, the facility can proceed with the auction.
In Texas, there are some specific processes the storage facility needs to follow before auctioning off a vehicle. In addition to checking for lien holders, the owner must obtain a VTR-265-SSF form. This will be given to you so that you can complete transferring the vehicle to your name. Here is the material that the facility owner should provide you with so that you can give it to the DMV:
- A copy of the tenant's lease showing that the tenant agreed to the foreclosure terms
- The completed and signed VTR-265-SSF form
- Verification of Texas title and registration (the facility will clear this with the DMV in advance)
- Proof that the “Notice of Claim” letter was sent to the vehicle's owner
- Proof of auto insurance if you plan to register the vehicle.
It's also a good idea to bring your receipt from the auction and a newspaper clipping of the auction's ad, just to be on the safe side. Although all of this can be a bit of a hassle, most of the leg-work should already be done for you by the facility owner. If you're concerned, you can check in advance that the owners are aware of this process, but most owners should be.
Also be aware that these requirements vary from one state to the next. If you're not in Texas, you'll need to check the local laws to ensure you obtain the vehicle legally and there are no concerns with obtaining a title. Also be sure to have enough money set aside to cover the costs of titling and registering the vehicle that you win at auction.