Mobile Home Title
The title is issued by the state where the mobile home is located. The header contains pertinent information such as vehicle identification numbers, serial numbers, make, year, build, owner's names, lien holders' information, and owner's names. A mobile home title is almost equivalent to your vehicle title. Therefore, a mobile home title should be kept safe.
Depending on the state, a mobile house title can be transferred to your local department or town clerk, motor vehicle administration, or other appropriate agency. California and Texas residents might prefer to mail their documents in. These states only have one or two mobile homes titling department branches.
Missing mobile home titles could indicate other serious problems. It is essential to verify that all yearly taxes are current and paid. A seller who has not transferred a title to their name may not be present on taxes.
Usual Mobile Home Title Problems
The title has been lost or is not available:
Sometimes the seller doesn't even know where the title is. Perhaps it was damaged in a fire or loss due to a natural disaster. You can't sell the title if you don't have the title.
If the seller is the legal owner, there are simple steps to obtain a duplicate title. For more information, contact your local mobile home title agency. The owner of the record usually only needs to prove that they are the owner and pay an additional fee.
The seller is not the owner of the title:
Sometimes, a new buyer does not immediately transfer ownership of a mobile home after closing on it. There are many reasons this happens. Legally, the buyer is not the title owner until it is registered in their name or the name of an entity they control.
There will be occasions where buyers and sellers "transfer ownership" using a separate piece known as a bill for sale. An account of purchase is used to facilitate a meeting between the minds. It also serves as a receipt that is usually given for personal property sales. This process is sufficient to meet the needs of the seller, buyer, and park manager. However, it does not transfer legal ownership. The original owner remains the legal owner. They can return at any time to take ownership of their home.
This problem can only be solved if the owner is available. You must immediately contact the owner if they are not available. They will often agree to provide a duplicate of your mobile home title(s) for a small fee. They will agree to this if they have good reasons. Otherwise, they could be held responsible for any taxes or injuries that may occur on a property they don't believe they own.
Before proceeding, track down the owner. If necessary, you might consider hiring a skip tracer or private eye.
What if the owner dies? Check first to determine if the owner has a power of attorney or if they have immediate family. You will most likely obtain a duplicate title if you file the proper forms with your state. If not, you can ask your state for the best way to get legal ownership. A clear title is possible, but not always.
Although the title is valid, the seller is not the owner:
This is the most common obstacle you'll encounter as a mobile home investor. This scenario will see your seller in possession of the original mobile home title. It may or may not be signed by the seller and buyer. This could happen if the seller receives the title and mobile home from their parent but has not legally completed the transfer.
If the transfer of a mobile-home title from a buyer or seller is not completed within X days, most states will charge a late fee. The late fee will be charged when the label is finally transferred to the new buyer.
If the valid owner of the title has already signed on to the seller's lines, you can simply have your buyer sign as buyer and transfer the title in their name. You can share your clear identification with the seller once they have become the owner. To verify that the double transfer can be done in one day, call your state.
It can be tempting for a seller to have a title signed by the owner, but the buyer's signature lines do not match. In this case, you might want to transfer the title to your legal owner. Most states consider it illegal to skip the chain of title. You do this at your own risk.
The actual owner must sign online before the title can legally be transferred to the buyer's name. Find the legal owner and have their signature added to the seller's file.
Never forge documents. It is tempting to generate the signature of the legal owner if you cannot find them. It may seem like a non-victimless crime to some people. However, it is still illegal and a crime.
Although the title is correct, there are still liens:
The title owner will likely not be physically in possession of it if there are still active liens on it. Most lien holders will hold onto the title until it is paid in full. The state will issue a new label with no active liens at this point. Alternatively, the lien holder can sign a "Release Of Lien" form on the title. These two methods can be used to show that the home is debt-free.
Do your research. Call your state to confirm the mobile home's serial numbers or VIN and check for active liens. This information will be available in some states. Unfortunately, some states aren't so technologically advanced.
Mobile home sellers may still be able to retain their title even though they have active liens. This is an error. Are they still liable for the mobile home's mortgage?
As they contact the bank or loan servicer for confirmation of payment, stay with them. Once you have the lien amount, you can move on.
Do whatever it takes to help a seller. Then, you'll be able to compete with both investors and buyers. Often, motivated sellers and determined investors can work together to find legal win-win solutions that achieve the goals of both parties.