Buying a Car in Florida from a Private Seller

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


, - August 28, 2018

Just like its fellow states, Florida has a unique set of rules for buying and selling a car privately.

Buying a Car from a Private Seller in the Sunshine State

As a car buyer, you should always take the appropriate steps to protect yourself, especially when it involves buying a used car from a private seller. Unlike some states, Florida isn’t a Lemon Law state, so you may not have any legal recourse if you feel you’ve been taken advantage of in a sale.

The lack of a Lemon Law is all the more reason to thoroughly inspect any vehicle you’re thinking of buying. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) recommends checking vehicles for recalls and visiting their website to verify odometer readings. It’s always a good idea to have any used vehicle inspected by a trusted and certified mechanic, and to make sure that the seller’s information matches the title of the vehicle.

Florida is unique in that they allow electronic title holding. However, in a sale, the seller must present you with a paper title, so that both of you can fill out the appropriate sections for a transfer. For the safety of all parties, the DHSMV recommends buyers and sellers go to a Florida motor vehicle service center to complete the sales transaction. As a buyer, remember to bring money to pay for the tax, title, and license fees at the time of ownership transfer.

A Few Tips for Selling a Car in Florida

According to the Florida DHSMV, there are a few rules to follow before you can sell a vehicle privately. In the state of Florida, you’re prohibited from parking a car for sale on any property other than your own, and if you sell three or more cars in any 12-month period, you’re required to get the appropriate state license.

As with most states, if there’s a lien on the vehicle being sold, it must be paid off before the title can transfer to the buyer. Also, if the vehicle is being sold in Florida, but wasn’t previously titled in the state, a complete vehicle identification number (VIN) check must be completed by the seller, and verified by either:

  1. A Florida DHSMV compliance officer
  2. A licensed Florida motor vehicle dealer
  3. Florida notary public
  4. A law enforcement officer

Don’t forget to remove the license plate before the sale as well. In Florida, it stays with the seller, not the car. One final tip: as a car seller, you should protect yourself by filing the appropriate paperwork with the state in order to remove your registration from the vehicle. This helps avoid liability for any actions tied to the vehicle after the sale.

The Bottom Line

Buying a car from a private seller in Florida is much like doing so in other states. Just make sure you know the laws, and take the appropriate steps to protect yourself during the process. If you need to finance a vehicle from a private seller, you’ll need to obtain a loan through a direct lender. Unfortunately, getting a direct loan can be difficult for some people.

If you’re having trouble getting financed for a private sale, don’t lose hope. You may be surprised to learn that a private seller isn’t your only option if you’re struggling with credit issues. There are a lot of dealerships that have the lending resources to work with you in Florida, and CarsDirect knows how to help you find them. Simply fill out our online auto loan request form, and we’ll start the process of matching you with a local dealer today!

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Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.


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