It can take 5 trips to the MI Secretary of State's office to get a title.
I bought a travel trailer from a lady who I knew who was moving. She said she paid cash for the trailer and never filed for a title. So off to MI Secretary of State office I went.
Trip #1 - I explained situation and they told me all I needed was a form to be completed by the State Police after they inspected the trailer. So I had the State Police inspect the trailer, they also did a stolen vehicle check and found no report of it being stolen-all this was free. The Police also told me the lady I bought it from had registered it and was issued a title. Now I can't reach the lady because she moved, and she's not returning my calls.
So, trip #2 to MI SOS office they then tell me the lady had a lien and I need a letter of pay off before I can get the title. They give me a 4 page form to mail-in with a fee of $7 to get the lien holder's name. I mail it, postage .45 cents and I wait. In just under 2 weeks I get the information and contact the lien holder, who was able to fax me a pay off letter in less then 5 minute at no charge.
So back to MI SOS for 3rd time. Now I get ANGRY! I'm told that I NOW need an appraisal of the trailer to assess the value, even though I had a signed receipt that I paid her $1800! Apparently sales tax is collected on the higher of either the amount paid or the assessed value when there's no title. I was told first that I had to take the trailer to a licensed dealer to get an assessment and return it on their letter head, then someone else stepped in and said I could go to nadaguides.com and print it out there. So I'm given yet another form to complete. I go home look it up on NADA guides and get a value of $800 (I'll always check there first before buying again!) I print out the NADA page, fill out the form and make trip #4 back to the MI SOS.
Now happy and confident I can get a title, I'm told the MI SOS must run a stolen vehicle check, so I'll have to come back the next day. I happily pointed out that the MI State Police did a stolen vehicle check (it took him less than 10 minutes) and it was not reported stolen. GEE, THEY HAVE TO DO THEIR OWN CHECK! How stupid! What a waste of resources and my time--which they care nothing about! So, I have to wait.
I go back the next day - TRIP #5! Finally I get a title for $15. It took me 5 trips but only cost about $22.45, not including gas for all those trips. That very night I got a call back from the lady I bought the trailer from. I told her all this, she of course apologized for my trouble, but insisted she did not have a lien or a title!
I've learned a lesson, before I even consider buying any other vehicle I must see the actual title and I'll check NADA guides for it's value. Whew!