Found a used trailer I like out of state, now what?

I have been searching for a new trailer and I found one that fit all my boxes, almost too perfectly. It’s not too far of a drive so we are planning on going to see the trailer this Sunday (And hopefully purchase - as long as it is what I expect).

What are my next steps? What is the best way to buy from a private individual? This is my first large purchase on my own. I have the ability to bring cash, would that be best? Other options?

Once I decide to go through with it, anything else I should know? Title/tags? Trailer is in GA, I am in AL. Alabama does not require titles for horse trailers, but this trailer does have one. Insurance?

What else should I know?

So exciting, congratulations!

If it were me and the seller is okay with it, I’d bring most of the value in a cashiers check. Maybe a bit less than asking on the check and the rest in cash in case you want to haggle down. Have them sign over their title even if you don’t think you’ll need it.

At least in my state, you’d need the title to get the registration and plate. So, that’s all handled when you get home.

I asked the seller and she said that whatever I bring needs to be cleared with the bank before taking the trailer. Since I am coming on sunday (of a bank holiday weekend), would she have to wait to cash the cashiers check until Tuesday? I thought about a cashiers check, but wasn’t sure if she would think that was safe since I suggested it and she said it would need to clear before taking the trailer.

Make sure you also get a signed bill of sale. You can get a template of the internet to fill out and sign at the sale.

1 Like

If she’s familiar with a cashier’s check, she shouldn’t need to worry about it bouncing. I’m not sure on the particulars of how quick she could see it in her account after cashing it on a holiday.
Unless she’s concerned you’re bring a fake check?

1 Like

I don’t know if she is familiar with a cashier’s check and she was just thinking of a personal check? Maybe that is the issue. A cashier’s check is guaranteed by the bank it looks like?

That’s possible too. A cashiers check cannot be written by the bank unless you have the funds to cover it. They issue the check from their account. It’s more secure for the seller.

1 Like

They can also call your bank with you present, and speak to a teller, confirm amounts etc etc. That’s what I did when I sold my small 2H

1 Like

In Georgia, the license plate stays with the seller, so you will need to figure out how temporary tags work in AL in order to drive it home. Some states have a website where you can print one out.

I would plan on paying cash if you need it to happen on a Sunday. There are enough fake cashiers check scams on the internet that the seller may have legitimate concerns about accepting one.

As above, find a generic bill of sale document online, AND have the seller sign over the Georgia title (check it to be sure they own it outright with no lien.)


Make sure they fill out the whole thing, too. So many parts of titles end up being forged because the whole thing wasn’t filled out. Just fill it out!

I have done the buy a trailer in SC, transport to GA a few times. If you can title the trailer in AL do so. It makes it easier to sell later.There is a market out there in stolen trailers, especially in states like SC and AL where a title is optional, and having a title will help you prove it is not stolen.

Contact your insurance company or agent and tell them what you are doing. They can arrange for insurance right away. Don’t wait until you get the trailer back to AL. If the trailer is wrecked while you are driving it home, then you are screwed. Same with a traffic stop where proof of insurance may be asked for. Then there are the Department of Agriculture police. You could get pulled over in GA without a tag by any cop, but the Georgia DOA loves pulling over horse trailers, especially near the state lines. They primarily are looking for current Coggins and health certificates, but even empty it can happen. I know this from personal experience in GA. Bottom line, get your paperwork in order before you pick up the trailer so you have both insurance papers and a temporary paper tag to display.

It is up to the buyer what form of payment they will accept, Personally these days I would not take a cashiers check because of the many ways to counterfeit them.

Finally, make sure all the trailer lights are functioning with your truck after you hook up, just in case you end up driving after dusk for some reason. You don’t want to be without trailer brake lights and turn signals either, as the lack of them can precipitate a traffic stop.


Take the cashier’s check, but not for the full amount, if you still have to dicker on the final agreed purchase price. Take as much cash as you will spend to make up the maximum you will pay for the trailer, after you have seen it. Then you can dicker, and pull out as much cash as you need on top of the cashier’s check, if you can come to some agreement slightly under the original asking price. But you don’t have to travel with ALL that cash.
Good luck.

1 Like

Since the seller specified that any form other than cash, needs to clear her bank before the trailer leaves, not sure I’d risk the cashiers check without getting the ok from the seller.

Sounds like you are located pretty close to the trailer. Another option is to go see the trailer on Sunday. If you decide it is what you want, just make a deal, write a check, and go back to pick up the trailer later. During that time you can make all the insurance arrangements and such. You could even check the trailer ID to make sure it is actually what the title says. There is no sense in spending time making arrangements in advance for a trailer you may not find acceptable when you lay eyes on it.

There is some risk though. The seller could get a better offer and return your check. As a seller I might ask for a non-refundable cash deposit or earnest money up front, to be forfeited if your check does not clear.

That said, deals between horse people are generally friendly and uncomplicated and honest. I’ve never been burned on an equipment purchase; horse purchases are another subject entirely.

1 Like

I’m surprised no one mentioned having the trailer checked out by someone knowledgeable. People lie. You don’t want to end up with a trailer with a bent axle or other damage not blatantly obvious. If there is a trailer repair place nearby, I’d go on a week day and have a “pre-purchase” done and if it passes hand over cash.


You do not have to buy a tag for a trailer in Alabama unless it is a gooseneck or it is a commercial trailer. I buy one for my horse trailer anyway because that is just more proof that it is my trailer if it gets stolen. I would definitely talk to my insurance agent and get insurance before you haul it home. Especially if you have to drive around or through Atlanta.


Since Sunday makes it impossible to get to a bank or a mechanic’s opinion-- two really important parts of this transaction – don’t do this on a Sunday. It’s worth taking a day off of work and going on a weekday. Bring an experienced friend who can ride in the trailer (find a quiet road!) and feel / listen for vibration and other ride quality issues that would point to mechanical problems. Unequal tire tread wear patterns can tell you a lot about what’s going on.
I don’t see a problem with just carrying the cash. Just be careful but you’re not going to get waylaid by swashbuckling pirates. :laughing:

1 Like

Here is the potential problem with no tag for the OP. She says that she lives close to Georgia. When she hauls to or through Georgia, a tag is required.

That is, a Georgia resident must have a tag on their Georgia-based trailer. But all the Georgia police officer sees, as the trailer is blocking the view of her Alabama truck tag, is a trailer in Georgia with no tag, and she gets pulled over. Not a huge deal, but a nuisance.

I live in SC just across the Georgia line, and I have been stopped several times in Georgia for no trailer tag. Finally I registered and tagged all my SC trailers just to remove the stress of a potential Georgia traffic stop when I am on my way to ride in Georgia, or hauling farm equipment to the dealership in Georgia just across the Savannah River from me in SC.

You have gotten good advice about state-specific things that I can’t help with, but I’ll chime in to share my experience buying an out of state trailer. Trailer was a 9hr drive away so a bit of a distance. The original plan was to pay with cash. I didn’t want to be carrying that much cash for such a long drive, so decided to wait till we got there to withdraw the cash. I drove around the city in a panic and must have stopped at 4 or 5 banks to see if they could help, but it turns out all the banks were closed. I ended up paying for it with PayPal. The seller kept the title until the funds cleared the next business day, and mailed it to me afterwards. I also live in a state where the plate stays with the seller so I had to drive 9hrs back with no plate. It was nerve-wracking but we made it through! I had a bill of sale as proof that I hadn’t stolen the trailer. No idea if that would have held up to scrutiny if a cop pulled us over but luckily I didn’t have to find out!

A once-over by a mechanic is a good idea. I like the idea other posters shared of going out to see it, putting down a deposit, and scheduling pickup at a later date. This sounds ideal if the drive isn’t too far.

If the trailer market is still as hot as it was not too long ago, anything other than showing up and paying for it in full is going to get a “buh bye” from a private seller.