The Ins and Outs of Buying a Mobile Home With No Title

Buying a Mobile Home With No Title

Mobile homes fall under either personal property or real property, depending on the type of foundation it is on and if you have applied for a specific category. Either way, this means that a title is required to confirm that you are the legal owner and that you have the rights to it. More often than not, double-wide manufactured homes require two titles while triple-wide homes require three.

However, many individuals purchase a mobile home without this important document and start to wonder “I bought a mobile home with no title, what do I do now?”. If that sounds like the kind of situation you are in, this guide is for you.

Below, we talk about what happens if you buy a mobile home with no title, how to get a lost title for a mobile home, if it is legal to sell a mobile home without a title, and more.

What Does it Mean When a Mobile Home Has No Title?

When a mobile home has no title, the transfer of ownership can get complicated. It may even prevent you from buying the home legally, which could put you and your investment at risk.

Understanding the role of a mobile home title

Since mobile homes could potentially be moved, they are generally treated as motor vehicles in legal documents. Because of this, the title needs to be issued by the motor vehicle department in the state where the mobile home is situated. The title will include much crucial information such as:

  • Serial number
  • Home vehicle identification number
  • Make and model of the home vehicle
  • Year it was built
  • Name of the existing owner as well as the name of the previous owner
  • Description of the property
  • Specific conditions that restrict the use or sale of the home vehicle
  • The lien holder’s information
  • And More

The key role of a mobile home title is to keep all the information that is required to transfer ownership. It protects you as the buyer from anyone trying to claim ownership of your mobile home later on. Moreover, because it has information on any liens on the mobile home, you are informed beforehand if there are any taxes or fines owed on the property. 

Finding Out Why A Mobile Home Title May Be Missing

Perhaps the most common reason why a mobile home title may be missing is due to accidents, natural disasters, and other events that resulted in the loss of important documents. In other cases, the title may have gotten lost due to past ownership issues that have never been legally resolved.

To obtain a lost title for mobile homes listed under another owner’s name, the current owner will need the previous homeowner to obtain a duplicate title and properly assign it to the current owner. If a duplicate title is not available, the current owner can obtain a court order awarding them ownership. This court order will take the place of an assigned title and have all the necessary information that the original title would have.

What Issues Might I Encounter With A Mobile Home Title?

Common Mobile Home Title Issues

Purchasing property is not always as straightforward as we would want it to be. There are bound to be a few hiccups along the way and challenges to overcome, even when it comes to obtaining your mobile home’s title.

Common Mobile Home Title Issues

The most common mobile home title issue is a missing title. Without one, the transaction is not legally binding. To fix this, the seller can obtain a duplicate title at a Secretary of State office, or the buyer can obtain a court order.

Another common issue is that the seller is not the listed owner of the mobile home. This can be resolved by finding the listed owner, having them sign over the property to the seller, and then having the seller transfer their clear title to the buyer. Late transfer of ownership will usually incur fees, which your seller should settle before turning it over to the buyer.

The third most common issue is there would be liens on the title. In this case, the lien holders would typically have the physical title until they are paid in full by the seller. Once the seller pays all the debt, only then can the lien holder sign a release and deem the title clean.

How A Bill Of Sale Fits In With Mobile Home Title Issues

A bill of sale comes into play when a title is missing and the seller is not the listed owner on record. It mostly acts as a receipt and displays a mutual agreement for a “transferred ownership”.

It’s important to note that this document does not transfer legal ownership, it merely shows proof that the buyer and seller have agreed to the transaction. The person listed on the title as the actual owner (or their heir) still has the freedom to take possession of the property.

How Can I Sell A Mobile Home Without A Title?

If you are on the seller’s end of the situation, you may be wondering if it is legal to sell a mobile home without a title. The short answer is no, it is illegal to sell a mobile home without a title. Pushing through with the transaction will put the buyer and possibly you as the seller at legal risk.

To sell a mobile home without a title the legally binding way, here are the crucial steps to take:

Essential First Steps To Sell A Mobile Home Without The Title

Step 1: Determine if you are listed as the owner of the mobile home on the original title.

Essential First Steps To Sell A Mobile Home Without The Title

Step 2: If you are listed as the owner of the mobile home, simply apply for a duplicate title. This document will reflect all the latest information on the original title and can be used to process the transfer of ownership to the seller.

Step 3: If you are not listed as the owner, you must find the listed owner, and have them transfer the title to you before you proceed with transferring the title to your buyer. Without the listed owner, you may also obtain a court order for this process.

Transferring The Title When Selling A Mobile Home: How it Works

The process of getting your title transferred could vary by state. First determine if the state your mobile home is registered in identifies it as a real property or a motor vehicle, then check the relevant department. Once you’re at the Department of Housing or the Department of Motor Vehicles, there are 4 main steps to get your title transferred to your buyer.

Step 1: Determine The Terms

If it is a straightforward purchase, the terms will include the price and turnover timeline. 

Step 2: Gather The Relevant Documents

The process can differ by state so it is best to double-check with your local department. More often than not, the required documents include:

  • Tax Certificate for proof that the property taxes have been paid.
  • Title Application that has been filled up and signed by relevant parties.
  • Bill of Sale for proof of the agreement.
  • Lien Release, only if the title has liens on it.
  • Warranty Deed if your state recognizes mobile homes as real property.

Step 3: Sign The Documents

Affixing your signature on all the documents confirms that you are fully aware of the terms and are agreeable to all the information stated on the forms. It is also best to have these notarized.

Step 4: File The Title Transfer

Once the mobile home is with the buyer and the money is with the seller, the parties may now file the transfer. It is recommended to make copies for your records for safekeeping.

How Can I Handle An Abandoned Mobile Home With No Title?

How Can I Handle An Abandoned Mobile Home With No Title?

In some cases wherein the buyer may want to purchase an abandoned mobile home without any means to contact the original owner, they can then file for a court order. Once the buyer obtains the court order, they can submit it to the relevant department in their state together with an application for title and the title fee.

Understanding The Laws Around Abandoned Mobile Homes

While the laws may differ per state, there are a few common guidelines, such as:

  • The home must be left unattended for at least several months to be considered abandoned (actual duration differs by state).
  • If the home is situated on rented land or a mobile home park, the landlords must notify the tenant with a grace period for removal. If the tenant does not reciprocate within the grace period, the landlord is in control of the property.
  • Once the landlord is in control, they are free to sell the mobile home to clear and, dispose of it, or even repair the home.
  • In other cases, the landowners can contact the tenant to collect storage charges, or else they lose rights for repossession.

What Should I Know Before Purchasing A Mobile Home Without A Title?

Purchasing a mobile home without a title can put you at great financial and legal risk. Not only is it against the law to purchase property under the table, but you are also vulnerable to the possibility of the title holder coming back for their property. If that is to happen, you will have no relevant documentation that you own the property and may have difficulty keeping the mobile home.

You’re All Set!

Before you find yourself saying “I bought a mobile home with no title”, it is important to fully understand what you are agreeing to and the consequences investing in something without legally binding documents can have.

Now that you know how to obtain a legal title for mobile homes with missing documents, we highly recommend going through the process to protect your property.

If you are a mobile home owner who wants to sell your mobile home but keep the land, or purchase land for a mobile home, there are different processes to obtain the necessary titles. 

Our team at Mobile Home Sell can assist with all your mobile home needs and frequently asked questions. We have helped several clients purchase their first manufactured home, sort out the legalities and paperwork, and have also helped clients sell their mobile homes in Michigan.

You May Also Like….

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Call me Back