How to Buy a Car That Money Is Owed On

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car keys in ignition (Photo: @lulusugarbabe via Twenty20)
Sometimes you find a used car you really like to only discover that there is money still owed on it. Don’t let this deter you from purchasing it. It is still possible to get the car if you really like it - it just takes a little extra effort. You have several options that can clear the car and title so you can buy it.

Have the seller pay the money owed

If the car you’re interested in still has a loan on it, you can ask the seller to pay it off so you can get a clear title. If the seller does not have the money to pay it the lien holder, you can work with the bank to pay it off and transfer the title to you. If there are remaining funds, the balance would go to the seller. A seller may discount the price slightly in this situation, but this is not always the case.

Get a loan to pay it yourself

If you want to get your own car loan to pay off the amount owed, you can contact a bank and apply for one. When approved, your bank will work with the lienholder or other financial institution so that you can take possession of the car. Most likely, the bank will only lend you the retail value of the car.
If the seller is asking more than that, you may not be able to secure a loan for the full amount. If this is the case, the seller will have to decide if he wants to sell it for less or you will have to decide if you want to pay the difference out of your own pocket. Sometimes, you can negotiate to meet in the middle.

Contract with an automobile dealer broker

You might want to consider hiring an automobile dealer broker to conduct the transaction for you. For a fee, the seller would allow the broker to sell the car to you and the broker would handle all the paperwork, financial transactions, and obtaining a title.
You would still have to pay cash or secure a loan, but the broker would help you with the details. Before you contact the broker, make sure you have agreed on a price so there is not any misunderstandings later. This should include an agreement on who will pay the broker fees.
Finding a car you want to buy that has money still owed on it is not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, it happens every day. Luckily, there are many ways to resolve the situation. Whether paying off the money yourself, securing a loan or using a broker to help you process the sale, it is still possible to buy the car you want.