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what if they decide to not sign it over?
Then you'll have learned what numerous people on this board alone keep saying, "Don't buy a car from ANYONE if the title is not DIRECTLY in that persons name".
Multiple sign overs, at a bare minimum, will require huge penalties for late/lack of official transfer. Car could easily have been stolen from the Titled owner for all you know. And yes no matter what state you are in a Lost Title search WILL require posting the VIN nationally and pinging the last registered owner. And yes it can lead to a visit by Johnny Law and special bracelets, least case loss of the vehicle.
Titles are the ONLY proof of ownership you have for that vehicle. The only signature for signover that matters is the one on the front unless it's from a registered Auto dealer ( altho it won't leave the dealers lot without your name on the title for processing ).
Man up and start the process in WA via electronic communication, hope for the best but don't be shocked if it goes badly.
That's what I'm scared of...I've already spent thousands on this car because i had the title waiting till i got back in town from work to Register. I live in Idaho and not Washington. I bought the car from Oregon lol
I did this years ago, and learned my lesson. I was third down the line on a title, from Nebraska through Missouri to Kansas. Had to track down the guy who signed as "buyer". Thankfully, he was willing to come into a title place and sign it over to me without any trouble. I had to pay about $350 in penalties etc. to Missouri to get a legit title for him to sign over (risky, but had a title place do it and hold on to the title), just so I could register it in Illinois. Basically I paid his penalties for never titling the car. Never again.
Sadly people will not listen to these suggestions or learned lessons. Case in point, Number680 in the FS area right now ( all I have to do is...one out of a thousand said so ). And since when did anything at the DMV go logically or smoothly for that matter?