LemonBrew does not currently offer any services for mobile homes. However, even if there are circumstances where we aren't able to offer assistance, we aim to be well versed in all aspects of the real estate transaction while educating all.
6 Tips to Know About Mobile Home Title
Whether you’re thinking about buying a mobile home or want to sell the one you currently have, you’ll need to understand what a mobile home title is first. After all, there’s typically no legal way to transfer ownership of a mobile home—also known as a manufactured home—without having the certificate of title to show proof of ownership. So why is this document so important, and what happens if you don’t have it? Here are the top facts to know about mobile home titles before you buy or sell this type of property.
If you’ve never seen a mobile home’s title, you might wonder what’s so great about it that you can’t buy or sell without it. Doesn’t it just list the name of the owner? Well, it does that, but it also includes a lot more important information.
In fact, a mobile home title should include the following facts about the property:
- The name of the owner
- The names of any lien holders
- The vehicle identification number/serial number of the mobile home
- The make of the home
- The model
- The year it was built
So if you’re missing the certificate of title of the manufactured home you own or want to buy, you’re missing documentation that has a lot of helpful facts.
Just as with a title on a house or car, a mobile home title can tell you if the current owner has any liens on the property. This means he or she still owes property taxes or fines on it. You don’t want to end up buying a mobile home with liens on it that you don’t know about, as you could then be liable for those costs. This is why requesting to see the certificate of title is so critical for buyers.
Granted, in most cases, if there are liens on the property, the owner won’t have possession of the title anyway. The lienholder usually holds onto it until the debts are paid. So if the seller of the home can show you a title that doesn’t have any liens, it should be in the clear. However, it’s best to check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to be sure. If there used to be liens that the seller paid off, he or she should have a letter that says the liens have been released, which also means the mobile home’s title is clear.
But in rare cases, the seller might be in possession of a title that shows one or more liens. In this case, there are a few options. The best one is typically for you to plan to buy the mobile home once the previous owner pays the liens and can show a lien release letter. You might also decide to pay less for the mobile home in exchange for you paying off the liens once the manufactured home is yours.
Now you know that it’s a big deal to have a mobile home title. But did you know you might need more than one? Depending on where you live, you might need a title for every width you have in the home.
That means a single-wide mobile home needs just one title, but a double-wide needs two. And as you might guess, a triple-wide mobile home needs three titles in most states. So, make sure you have the right number of titles before transferring ownership of this type of personal property!
Speaking of state-specific rules, some states handle mobile home titles differently. In some areas, once you get a title, you don’t have to go through any other special steps before you’re able to transfer ownership during a mobile home sale. You simply need to be prepared with the following documents:
- Signed and notarized bill of sale
- Signed application for title
- Money for title fee
But some states have a few extra guidelines you need to follow when it comes to titles for manufactured homes. For instance, in Illinois, the title needs all the basic information listed above—in addition to having a thorough description of the property. And if it won’t be placed in a mobile home park, the new owner has to contact the county recorder to file mobile home registration. This document must show the contact information of everyone in the household, the square footage of the mobile home, the year it was manufactured, and its new location.
In Mississippi, mobile homes can be titled as motor vehicles. When you apply for a title in this state, you have to include the current owner’s contact information and driver’s license number, the contact information of any lien holders, a description of the mobile home, an odometer disclosure statement, serial number, and more.
In New Jersey, getting a manufactured home title is similar to getting a title for a car, except you don’t have to go to the DMV for an inspection and registration along with the title. And in New York, you don’t need a certificate of title if the mobile home was manufactured in 1994 or earlier.
Additionally, in many states, if the manufactured home is attached to a permanent foundation, it’s no longer considered personal property. At that point, it’s considered real property and needs to be recorded as such with the county clerk or assessor. This means the homeowner has to pay annual property taxes on it, and the property is treated differently by the lender than a mobile home that’s not affixed to land would be. So, before you buy or sell a mobile home, it’s helpful to check on your state’s specific rules for the titling process.
Clearly, in most states, you’ll have trouble selling a mobile home if you can’t find the original title. Luckily, it’s easy to get another copy. You can just call the DMV or a local titling agency for a duplicate title. As long as you’re prepared to prove you own the manufactured home—and can pay a small fee—you can get the title so you can sell your property.
A somewhat common issue with mobile homes is that the buyer doesn’t always rush to transfer the title into their own name. In some cases, years can pass before they end up making the change—and that may be only when it’s time to sell the mobile home!
So what can you do if you’re about to sell your manufactured home and realize your name still isn’t on the title? You’re going to have to transfer ownership into your name before you can legally sell the home.
If the title has the seller’s name—the person you bought the mobile home from years ago—signed already, and you just have to sign the buyer’s section, you can do so. Then contact the DMV to file it. Note that you might have to pay a late fee since most states require you to present the signed title within a few weeks of the sale. But once this is done, you can request a transfer of title from your name to your buyer’s name.
What if the person who sold you the mobile home never signed on the seller’s line of the title? You’ll need to contact him or her to ask for a signature. Keep in mind that the person on the title is liable for any taxes that may be due on the mobile home, so the person who sold it to you should be glad to sign so you can finally transfer the new title to your name! Once that’s done, you can then transfer it to your seller’s name.
If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home, a real estate agent can help you find what you’re looking for. Hiring an agent that has experience with mobile homes will ensure you’re not alone in dealing with everything from the home search, lender, and title process to the real estate transactions that come with paying the purchase price and sales tax on closing day.