Understanding The Titles Process

One of the things that sets RateGenius apart from other lending platforms is that we take care of the entire refinance process. One of the most complicated, critical, and lesser-known parts of the refinance process is titling.

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Although it is the last piece of the refinance puzzle, titling — the written proof of lienholdership — is important. Some even say it’s complicated and mysterious. The truth is, it’s all of those things.

Understanding the titling laws in all 50 states, and processing those with each individual customer situation, can sometimes get tricky.

Luckily, we handle all of the title work for every single one of our customers to ensure that your refinance is officially and legally complete. Our title experts work with every state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and every lender to do just that.

Still, customers understandably have questions about the titling process. So, to ease uncertainty, make your experience more smooth, and generally increase your knowledge on the topic, we’ve compiled a list of the most common title questions we typically encounter.

Most Frequently Asked Questions About Titles

“Are vehicle titles and registrations the same?”

Although registrations and titles are both issued by government agencies, they serve two different purposes and are governed by each state’s rules and procedures.

  • Titles are legal documents declaring either a person or a lien holder as the legal owner of a vehicle. When purchasing a new car, dealerships will typically handle the titling process for you. However, when refinancing, the lien holder changes, requiring the title document to reflect that change.
  • Registrations are essentially documentation by your state’s tax office validating that your vehicle has been cataloged in their system and determined as roadworthy.

Each state has different requirements, for each. However, most states require all vehicles to pay a tax or other fees, pass an inspection, have car insurance, and have a licensed driver declare him or herself as the main owner, typically with a title. Registered vehicles are issued a license plate and other documentation, depending on the state.

“When RateGenius works on updating my title, will they update my registration too?”

RateGenius only facilitates the update of your vehicle’s title, not registration. The title is the only document that must be updated when refinancing; registrations typically do not require updates unless they soon expire, you move out-of-state, or you no longer wish to have another driver connected to the vehicle.

However, at the time of titling, it is important that your registration is current, as registration issues can delay the title process.

“What does it mean if I live in a title-holding state?”

When you live in a title-holding state, the title will be issued to the registered owner/operator of the car, regardless of lien holder. Though your lien holder will receive a separate document verifying their connection to the loan, you will be in possession of the title itself.

There are only nine title-holding states: Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin. In the other 41 states, titles are issued to the lien holder of your vehicle until the loan is fully paid off.

“How long will it take to get my updated title?”

Unless you live in a title-holding state, your title will be sent to your lien holder.

However, if you live in a title-holding state, the timeline is dependent on your state’s population. Completion times for larger states like California and New York typically take 6-10 weeks after your refinance begins. For smaller states, the title process typically takes between 4-6 weeks.

Vehicle Titling Tips

Ensure that your registration is in good standing before applying for auto loan refinancing.

In order to complete any title process, registration must be in good standing. The most common reasons why a registration would not be in good standing are:

  • Toll violations
  • Parking tickets
  • Unpaid taxes

Having registration issues can severely delay the title process, thus delaying the final completion of your refinance loan. In the event that your registration is not in good standing, your state’s DMV collects the amount due on behalf of the municipality where the fines are owed.

Understand that most government agencies have strict rules and processes.

As do most large organizations, your state’s government agencies (e.g. tax office, DMV) tend to follow policies and procedures exactly, with few exceptions. Therefore, just like everyone else, RateGenius has to play by their rules.

Although typically straightforward and simple, sometimes there are special circumstances which make the process a bit more complex.

We handle all of the leg work with your state on your behalf, ensuring that the process is as easy as possible for you. But, we still have to do things their way — often relaying information or requesting items per the state’s requirements.

We appreciate your patience with us as we work to make your refinance or lease buyout as easy as possible. If you have any further questions, contact us.

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