• Dimitri Petit-Frere

Common Mobile Home Title Issues

Mobile Home Title Issues

Often when investing, buying, or otherwise sell my mobile home, you will encounter challenges in regards to the mobile home’s title(s) and ensuring the title is transferring correctly. Common title challenges occur due to a lost title, the actual owner not being present, or the incorrect owner listed on the title. Mobile home title issues can be resolved with the right expertise.

In this article, we highlight the most common title issues and the best way to proceed forward.

4 Common Mobile Home Title Issues & How to Proceed

1. Correct Owner, No Title.

Paperwork is not an easy thing to keep track of! If the current seller is the legal owner of record, then there is a simple and easy process to obtain a duplicate title. Call your local mobile home titling agency to inquire about specific steps moving forward. Typically the owner of a record needs only to provide proof that he or she is the owner and pay a small fee.

Note: A owner of a record is the name of the person who is the registered owner of the home and who has the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of ownership. Our team can help you navigate through the confusion.

2. Incorrect Owner, No Title.

There are cases where sometimes a new buyer closes on a mobile home, and they do not immediately transfer the title into their legal ownership. This happens for many reasons; however, legally the buyer is not the true owner until the title is registered into his/her name or an entity he or she controls. In these cases, it is not good if the title(s) are then lost or go missing. 

Options on how to proceed:

a. Is the owner available?

If YES: If the owner is available, you must contact them immediately. Many times they will agree to obtain a duplicate copy of the mobile home title(s) if you pay for this small cost. The legal owners (prior sellers) will do this in order to transfer the home out of their name so they are not liable for taxes or accidents on a property that they didn’t think they still owned.

If NO: If the owner is not available, they must be tracked down in order to proceed. A private eye or skip tracer may be helpful in tracking down the current owner and getting the title properly documented.

Pro Tip: Occasionally, buyers and sellers have “transferred ownership” via a separate piece of paper known as a “Bill of Sale”. A Bill of Sale acts as a meeting of the minds and as a receipt typically given when selling personal property. While this process may be sufficient for the buyer, seller, and even park manager, it is not sufficient enough to transfer legal ownership from one person to another. The original owner is still the legal owner and can come back any time to take possession of his or her home.

b. The owner passed away.

If the owner has passed away and there is no title available you need to first consider:

Do you have the owner’s power of attorney for handling this property or a death certificate and immediate family? If yes, then you will likely be able to obtain a duplicate title by filing the correct forms with your state. 

If you do not, then you may want to ask your state the best course of action moving forward to obtain legal ownership of this mobile home. Without having the power of attorney or death certificate, obtaining a clean title may or may not be possible.

Pro Tip: Always verify with your state that yearly taxes have been paid and are current. If a seller has not transferred a title into his or her name, then he or she may not be up to date paying taxes.

3. Incorrect Owner, Correct Title.

This scenario is the most common hurdle. Commonly in situations like this, your seller will be in physical possession of the current original mobile home title; however, it may or may not be signed and dated by the buyer(s) and the seller(s).

If the true owner of the title has already signed on the seller’s line, then simply have your seller sign as a buyer and quickly transfer the title into the current seller’s name. Once the seller is the actual owner, they can now transfer their clean title to you without worry. Call your state to verify that this double transfer can be completed in one day.

If the true owner has not signed on the seller’s line, then this must be completed before the title can be legally transferred into the purchaser’s name. Track down the legal owner to have his or her signature placed on the seller’s line.

Avoid forging documents. If you can’t find the legal owner listed on the title, it may be tempting for you or your seller to forge the legal owner’s signature on the title. Some people can rationalize that this is a victimless crime, however, it is still a crime and illegal.

If your seller has a title that is signed by the owner but the buyer’s signature lines are blank, it can be tempting to skip over your current seller and transfer the title from the legal owner straight to you. While this can technically be done, most states consider it illegal, as you are skipping the chain-of-title and not placing the home into your current seller’s name first. While you may not get caught doing this; proceed at your own risk.

Pro Tip: Note most states charge a late fee for delaying the transfer of a mobile home title from a buyer to a seller if not completed within “X” number of days. This late fee will be paid when the title is eventually transferred into the new buyer’s name.

4. Correct Title, but Liens Listed.

If there are active liens on the title, the owner will most likely not be in physical possession of the home’s title(s). It is common practice for the lien holder(s) to physically hold the title(s) until they are paid off in full. Once paid in full, a new title is issued showing zero active liens. The lienholder can alternatively sign a “Release of Lien” located on the title or provided on a separate form given to the owner. Both of these methods show the home is free and clear from debt.

If you run into a situation where a mobile home seller is in possession of their title with active liens, it is important to understand if this is an error or if there is still money owed on the mobile home. To verify no further money is owed on the lien, ensure you are present with the seller as they call up the bank or loan servicer to confirm a principal balance pay off. Knowing whether paid off or a balance owed, you can decide to move forward accordingly.

Pro Tip: Always do your homework and call your state to verify the mobile home’s VIN or serial numbers. Also, confirm if there are any active liens showing on the title with the state. Some states will have this information at their fingertips, and other states will not be as technologically advanced.

Always remember that the title of a mobile home is the legal representation of ownership. This important legal document should be properly documented at all times and kept in a safe and secure place. Mobile home title issues can easily be resolved.

If you are a California resident, please use this link to see all the forms available for your mobile home and any titling issues that may arise.

California Department of Housing and Community Development

If you have any comments or follow-up questions that were not answered above please do not hesitate to comment below or reach out to us directly at mhmatadors@gmail.com or connect with us on Facebook @mhmatadors.

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