Legal Question in Consumer Law in North Carolina

I live in South Carolina, person I may sue lives in North Carolina

My husband and I recently sold our used car to a private party. My husband knows the guy's girlfriend and so he agreed to a 500 down payment and two more installments for a total purchase price of $2000. Upon full payment, we would surrender the title to him. We typed up a bill of sale stating the following:


Seller Name: xxxxxxxxxx

Seller Address: xxxxxxxx

Buyer Name & Address: xxxxxxxxx

In consideration of $2000.00 in 3 installments:

$500.00 paid today

$1,000.00 due 5/13/13

$500.00 due 5/26/13

the seller does hereby sell, transfer and convey the following motor vehicle to the buyer:

Make: Hyundai

Model: Elantra GLS

Year: 2003

VIN: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Color: Grey

Mileage: 164,300

The seller hereby acknowledges the collection of funds and certifies that the information provided herein is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge.

The seller warrants they are the legal owner of said vehicle.

The buyer understands that there is no guarantee or warranty, expressed or implied, for this vehicle or any items included with the transfer of this vehicle. The vehicle is sold in "AS IS" condition.

Buyer agrees to register the vehicle in his name with the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles within one week.

Seller signature: XXXXXXXX (my name as registered, title owner) Date: 5/7/13

Buyer signature: XXXXX 5/7/13

Witness signature: XXXXXX 5/7/13

The buyer took the car but then the next day, late at night, decided he wanted to "return the car," drove to our house, left it in our driveway and texted my husband saying it was there and he did not want it claiming it was more than he expected in fees to title and register it. (NOT MY FAULT!) The first check he gave us has also bounced (he stopped payment), resulting in a fee on our end.

We went back and forth via text today and when we said it was legally binding, he said he had sought counsel and was told he is not contractually obligated because of "one part" of the agreement. I'm not sure what he meant. My husband was the only one who met with him and I signed at home, then he brought the contract to the buyer and he signed it in NC. I never met him. The car is titled and registered in my name. Did I have to be there to sign in front of him?

Can I sue given this bill of sale? Also, he now is backtracking saying he will give us $1500 because he "doesn't like courts" but that he are illegally removing the tag. He basically wants our tag to stay on. I've explored this all over, and I understand that the tag is registered to the owner not the vehicle and I must either turn it in to the DMV in my state or transfer it to another vehicle I purchase (with fees of course via DMV).

Can anyone advise me here? I kind of want to take him to court now but I don't know if there is something obviously wrong that would make me lose and end up with added court fees.


Asked on 5/09/13, 8:28 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Kenneth Love Ken Love Law

IF and only IF the language you stated here is the language in your contract, I do not see anything that would lead to the contract being invalidated. That being said, even if there were one term as he said that was invalid, typically Courts try to view the contract as being valid without that one term if possible.

You can sue the buyer in small claims court in the county in which they reside. Just be cause you get a judgment, doesn't mean you will actually collect. It might be best to negotiate for an amount that would satisfy both parties, unless you can get another buyer lined up.

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Answered on 5/09/13, 8:57 pm

Lynn Coleman Attorney-Mediator

Mr. Love is correct. I caution you about suing someone who obviously does not want the car any more, and who may be impossible to collect from. You have the car back, you still have the tag, why not sell it to someone else and avoid all of the trouble?

I can't tell if you took a lien on the vehicle title as part of the original sale. If not, then he could have made the first payment, gained clear title, not paid you the rest, and left you holding the bag for the $1,500.00.

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Answered on 5/09/13, 9:36 pm

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