It might surprise you but mobile homes are considered motor vehicles in every state. Although mobile homes have no motor due to the fact that they can move down the road they are classified as a motor vehicle.
If you are looking to purchase a mobile home you should almost always get a title in hand. The title will look just like your car / truck title.
Unless the home comes with land almost all mobile homes will have this type of title. The title will tell you the serial number of the home. It will also tell you the make of the home and the owner. Better yet, it will tell you if there is a lien on the mobile home.
A Mobile home in a mobile home park
If you are purchasing a mobile home in a mobile home park I would make sure you have a title. There typically is no reason a mobile home will not have a title in a mobile home park. Remember this is just like buying a vehicle. If someone doesn’t have a title it is usually not a good sign, especially in a mobile home park.
A couple tips about Mobile Homes in Parks
1st tip: Whenever you move into a mobile home in a mobile home park make sure you do this. You need to check with the park office to be pre-approved. Do not buy a mobile home in a park to live in unless you check into this first. You might quickly get an eviction notice if you move in without being approved first.
2nd Tip: Make Sure You Check In
When buying a mobile home in a mobile home park check with the park that there is no past due lot rent. If you are going to move the home from the park you want to make sure lot rent is current and there is no lease. Otherwise the park may hold the home until this is cleared up.
Some residents sign yearly leases that require the lot rent be paid in full for the year before the home can move. You do not want to purchase a mobile home in a park only to find out there is back lot rent and also a lease that is required to be paid for the next 9 months. Mistakes like that can really add up.
Mobile home on private land that doesn’t need to be moved
Now there are a couple different scenarios when it comes to purchasing a mobile home on private land. If you are buying a mobile home with the land you may just get a deed which mentions the mobile home on it. Check here to see the difference between a mobile home title vs a mobile home deed.
It is OK to buy a mobile home on private land and just get a deed. You would still have ownership of the mobile home. Many times when mobile homes are put on property the original owners may have obtained a bank loan. The owners would get a loan to pay for the mobile home. To finance the mobile home the bank would require that the title be destroyed or their fancy word abolished. Once the bank granted the loan the home owner couldn’t sell the mobile home.
OK But Why Do Banks Do This Process
If you as a home owner still had the title in hand you could sell the home to Bob down the road. Bob could move it to his piece of land. Then the bank would have no asset but the land. In the banks eyes your land alone really isn’t worth anything. This was the banks way of not allowing the mobile home to be moved. The mobile home home is typically treated as a stick built home if there is not title making it able to be financed. Make sense?
Mobile home on private land that needs to be moved
Now comes the trickier part. Can you buy a mobile home from someone on private land that needs to be moved with a title and just a bill of sale? Good question. Many moving permit offices require that you have a physical title in hand to move a mobile home.
So, I would highly recommend that you check with the permits offices in your state first. You don’t want to pull the trigger to buy the mobile home only to find out you can’t move it. I would also do your homework to figure out why the home has no title to begin with.
The last thing you want to do is a buy a mobile home on private land only to have the owner coming knocking on your door a few months from now.
Here are the steps that I would follow:
Step # 1: First, Go to your county courthouse in which the mobile home resides. Go directly to the register of deeds office and give them the address to the property. The clerk should be able to pull paperwork showing a deed or better yet title abolished paperwork. If there is titled abolished paperwork where the title to the mobile home was destroyed you will want to get a copy of that.
That piece of paper will provide some good details and will typically give you the original serial number to the mobile home. If they show no record of anything about the mobile home continue to Step #2. If there is a title abolished paperwork ask the clerk what you need to do to have the title reinstated. They will usually have a paper outlining the steps that you need to take to get this title back. If the person your talking to does not know ask to speak to a manager someone with years of experience will know what you need to do even if they provide you with a phone number of someone you can contact to find further information.
Step # 2 : No paperwork to the Mobile Home
Now if you were not able to find any paperwork at your local courthouse your next step would be to see if you know the original owners. If you do see if they have any paperwork of when they purchased the mobile home. If you don’t know the original owners check to see if you can find the data plate in the mobile home.
Click here to learn where you can find the data plate information. This will tell you about the serial number on that home. Be sure to also check in the kitchen drawers of the mobile home many times past owners will leave papers on the mobile home and sometimes you can find the serial number in that paperwork. If you can’t find the serial number anywhere go to Step # 4.
Step # 3: If You Found The Serial Number To The Mobile Home
If you were lucky enough to find the serial number of the mobile home. Take the serial number to your local Bureau of Motor Vehicle or Secretary of State …It is referred to different offices in different states. Just go to where you would to get your car / truck plates. Explain to them the situation that you are trying to find out who owns this mobile home and give them the serial number. They may be able to help tell you if there is a valid title for the mobile home. Then you can track down the owner and get them to give you the original title.
Step # 4: If You Can’t Find The Serial Number To The Mobile Home
If you can’t find the serial number of the mobile home you might try back at the courthouse to see if they can help in any way. Tell them that you have been looking for the serial number but it doesn’t appear anywhere on the mobile home and you have no papers to it. They may have a process in place to file papers to obtain a new title to the home. Many times that would require a police officer to visit the home to verify that the home is yours, which is pretty common.
Another quick tip:
When buying a mobile home on private land make sure the home can easily be moved off from the land. Do not purchase a home that has a bunch of large trees in the way of the move or power lines. If you find a home that you are set on buying that has trees in the way be sure to get in writing that you can have those trees removed and price it out before signing on the dotted line to purchase the home.
Make sure you cross your T’s and dot your I’s when it comes to mobile home titles. You don’t want to buy a mobile home only to find that there is a different owner to the mobile home, it can be a very expensive mistake! If you don’t want to go through all the hassle of these steps hire an experienced real estate lawyer to help.