Landlording & Rental Properties

The Abandoned Mobile Home Process: How to Obtain the Title

Expertise: Business Management, Landlording & Rental Properties, Mortgages & Creative Financing
26 Articles Written

Over the past year, I’ve come across many mobile home and land properties on the MLS where the seller warrants that they do not have title to the mobile home and will not help the buyer obtain said title. Most of these sellers are banks that took properties back through foreclosure. Although they foreclosed on the land as well as the home in many cases, many banks are not willing to get the title to the home.

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Assuming that this bank-owned seller was the listed lien holder on the title and somehow lost the title, all it would take is a quick trip to the DMV to get a duplicate title. Many buyers are afraid to buy a mobile home and land property without title to the mobile home, and the seller is left with a smaller buyer pool, thus reducing the price of the property.

Throw in a little time passing without offers, and you may have a motivated seller on your hands.

Is it Worth the Risk?

You may be wondering: Is buying a discounted mobile home and land property without the title worth the risk?

Let’s explore some of the potential risks in more depth:

If the owner of the mobile home is not the land seller, the mobile homeowner could move the home.

I’ve personally fallen into this situation, where I had purchased a piece of land from a seller that happened to have an abandoned mobile home on the property. The seller claimed that nobody had been in the home for over a year. I quickly bought the property, and within a few weeks, the mobile homeowner had moved the home. I bought the property at a low enough price that I could still owner finance the land for a profit or move another home onto the property.

Related: 4 Steps Every Investor Should Take After Closing on a Mobile Home

I chose to owner finance the land. However, I should have tried to contact the mobile homeowner before purchasing. I later found out that this owner had sold the home to an investor who then moved the home off the property. If I had offered the original mobile homeowner $500, I probably could have gotten the title. You should be able to find the mobile homeowner through your DMV or county tax records.

If you come across a bank-owned property with an abandoned mobile home on the land, be sure to check your Register of Deeds for the foreclosure documents and see if the mobile home is included. If the mobile home has been de-titled or is considered part of the real estate, then ignore this discussion, as the owner of the land is automatically the owner of the home as well.

You might not being able to insure the home.

Many insurance companies will allow you to “insure” a home, so long as you have the basic information of the home (make/model, VIN, year, etc.), but as soon as you try to make a claim, they’re going to ask to see the title. So, they’re willing to accept your premiums, but are not going to pay any claims until you have the title. 

You could encounter legal issues.

Renting a mobile home that you don’t have title to could lead to legal issues with the mobile homeowner, such as trespassing, as well as issues with your tenants, who may be forced to leave and could look to sue as well. Everyone’s risk tolerance is different. Personally, I’m not going to deal with another situation where the mobile homeowner is different than the land seller unless I’m able to work out a deal with the mobile homeowner as well.

Related: 3 Common (and Costly) Mistakes Mobile Home Investors Make

However, I’m willing to take the risk on a discounted bank-owned abandoned mobile home on land where the seller foreclosed on the land and home, but isn’t able/willing to provide a title. Knowing that there shouldn’t be a conflict to recover the title with the seller, I would immediately take steps to recover the title quickly to insure the home from catastrophic damage and to begin collecting rent. The best way to get the title is to go through the abandoned mobile home process.

The Abandoned Mobile Home Process

I’m going to discuss this process using South Carolina’s state laws. If you’re in another state, the process is probably going to differ slightly, so be sure to contact your local magistrate.

  • Submit an abandoned mobile home report to the DMV. This costs about $15 and takes the DMV about a week or so. They’ll report the home abandoned, as well as let you know the owner of the home, so long as the home has been titled in that state.
  • If the home wasn’t found in the state’s DMV records, you’ll have to contact other states’ DMVs to see if the home has been titled in their state. When I went through this process on a property, I had to contact 7 neighboring states and confirm that the home wasn’t titled in their systems. Most sent a simple email that stated the home was not titled in their state, a couple had an online VIN check, and one required a form to be mailed in. 
  • Send a certified letter to the last mobile home owner of record.
  • Place a 30-day notice in the local newspaper to anybody claiming ownership of the home. This cost me about $40.
  • Pay a $35 fee to the magistrate, sign and complete an affidavit for an abandoned mobile home, and show proof of the above steps. This will enter your home into the next available abandoned mobile home sale. These are typically held once a month.
  • Attend the sale and make sure that you’re the top bidder. When I went through this process on a mobile home, nobody else bid on the home, and I was immediately awarded a bill of sale. 
  • Go to the DMV and show the bill of sale to finally get the title.

In all, you can probably expect to spend about $100 and 2-3 months to get title to the home.

Have you found or purchased a property that’s worth going through this process?

Let me know your experiences in the comments!

Aaron Kinney has been investing in mobile home and land properties since 2011. He writes about this occasionally at MobileHomeEbook.com and helps ...
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    Frankie Woods Investor from Albuquerque, NM
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for the article! Though I have not yet ventured into the world of mobile homes, I have a good friend in Texas who is all about it. I will be sure to point him to this article. Keep up the good work!
    Aaron Kinney Real Estate Investor from Lexington, South Carolina
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for the kind words, Frankie. I recommend that you check out this asset class and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
    Andy
    Replied over 5 years ago
    hey Aaron Great article. I just bought a small mobile home park in SC and I’m shopping for more. I’d like to connect with you. Thanks, Andy 615-456-5391
    Aaron Kinney Real Estate Investor from Lexington, South Carolina
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hey Andy, I sent you an email. Let me know if you are ever around the Columbia, SC area and we can get lunch sometime.
    Sean T. Rental Property Investor from MA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for the article!
    Aaron Kinney Real Estate Investor from Lexington, South Carolina
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks Sean.
    Charles Morgan Investor from El Paso/Socorro, Texas
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I bought one in 2007 for $18,000. The mobile had been added onto so much that removing it would been more costly than demolishing. The bank sold it to me as land with buildings. Rented it out for 6 years before my son moved into it. I still don’t have a title so I will look into the abandoned part if we can find the VIN.
    Charles Morgan Investor from El Paso/Socorro, Texas
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I bought one in 2007 for $18,000. The mobile had been added onto so much that removing it would been more costly than demolishing. The bank sold it to me as land with buildings. Rented it out for 6 years before my son moved into it. I still don’t have a title so I will look into the abandoned part if we can find the VIN.
    Aaron Kinney Real Estate Investor from Lexington, South Carolina
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hey Charles, I would definitely recommend trying to get the title. The county should have a record of the VIN # that you can typically find online through a property tax search or call someone at the county who can help you. You could also try looking for the VIN # inside of the home.
    Joel Strassner from Milton, Pa
    Replied over 5 years ago
    just getting started after 4 mo of learning different facets of investing, this adds another to my list. THANKS
    Aaron Kinney Real Estate Investor from Lexington, South Carolina
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hey Joel, If you value monthly cashflow above everything else, then it’s hard to beat mobile home investing. I recommend reading some cheap mobile home investing books on Amazon and see if you’re still interested. Let me know if I can help.
    Bill Neves Flipper/Rehabber from Vancouver, WA
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Thanks for the article. Good stuff. Every one I’ve purchased had title. So haven’t had to do this yet.
    Dani Swope Investor from Dahlonega, Georgia
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Hey Aaron & Mobile Home Forum, So far we have only purchased traditional dwellings. A parcel of land in our community has been sold to a developer. Has anyone ever negotiated with a large corporate home builder to purchase an abandoned mobile home?
    Gerome
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Who receives the proceeds from the public auction? The land owner? original owner of the mobile home? or the county? Who facilitates the auction? Great Article THANKS!!!
    Aaron Kinney Real Estate Investor from Lexington, South Carolina
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Hey Gerome, In SC, the landowner receives the proceeds from the public auction because the home has been abandoned on the landowner’s land and should be paying lot rent. The local county magistrate facilitates the auction.
    Annette Allen Investor from Enterprise, Alabama
    Replied over 4 years ago
    very informative. I never even thought of these issues with a trailor home /lot for sale. I see alot of them. I am going to deff add this to my ventures to look into. I have seen some great lots- but never thought about the trailor being potentially seperate.
    Lauren
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Thanks for the article, the problem we are facing in GA is that the only affidavit they provide is for tow truck companies and the mobile home cannot be towed. I tried to speak with someone in the county’s magistrate court and they told me they had no idea what to do. I am beyond lost and I just want this moved off my property. Any ideas?
    Aaron Kinney Real Estate Investor from Lexington, South Carolina
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Hey Lauren, Most people are not familiar with the abandoned mobile home title process so if you want to go this route, just keep asking more people at the DMV or local magistrate about it. Eventually, you’ll find somebody. If it’s an old abandoned home that you just want removed, my recommendation would be to post an ad on Craigslist and say that you have a free mobile home. First one to remove it gets it. Some people are willing to do this for the scrap value of the home.
    Lupe
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    i purchase an abandoned mobile home from the manager of a community , paid her half of the total purchase and the other half when she got the title. it have been almost a year and she is still working on getting the title . the current owner owes back taxes. What can i do?
    Aaron Kinney Real Estate Investor from Lexington, South Carolina
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I’d recommend having the manager or owner of the park start on getting the title through the abandoned mobile home process. The process might be a little different than what I described depending on what state you’re in, but the local magistrate and/or DMV should be able to help you. You could also try to contact the current owner and see if he’ll sell it to you for a small sum.
    Daisy
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    My husband and I recently purchased a mobile home cash but the seller bought it cash from another person. Seller does not have a title and the home had been gutted down for quite some time so we have no data plates or papers for the mobile home model make or year. We got a bill of sale from seller. How could we go about obtaining a title without the year, make or model of the home?
    Aaron Kinney Real Estate Investor from Lexington, South Carolina
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Hey Daisy, You may want to check with your local county’s mobile home division or the DMV and see if they can help you out. If you own the land that the home is under, you can start the abandoned mobile home process to get the title that way. Good luck.
    Shon
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hey Aaron I have a mobile home that has been on my property since a purchase in 2014 we never made a lease for lstorage because she was supposed to have the home removed fast forward to the present time and mobile home still on my property she has the title and is the legal owner but hasn’t had the home registered I recently sent certified letter giving her 30days of removal and placed a public notification in the paper what would my next step be since there wasn’t a lease agreement just a verbal agreement to remove the mobile home 2 weeks after purchase but that was in 2014 here it is now 2017 help
    Nick
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Hello Aaron,thanks for the article. I was wondering where is the best place to start looking for cheap mobile homes to fix up? Thanks from Central California
    Ann Byers
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Aaron I have a BIG problem can you please call me to in detailed to type out! 843-200-8255 Ann Byers
    Sheila
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Hi there! My dilemma is that I purchased a doublewide on 2.0 acres in Greenville County, SC in 2003. It was a conventional loan and I have a deed. This year I am selling the property and mh, however I am unable to locate a title. The DMV has no title, the manufacturer has no Certificate of Origination because the mh is 20 years old now. I have the correct VIN, or SN as is on a plate in both a kitchen cabinet and the breaker box. I have been paying seperate taxes for the property and the mobile home since purchase. Any idea how this can happen, or suggestions for next steps? With great appreciation and many thanks – Sheila
    Kitty Montano
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Sheila, I have your same problem. Has anyone figured out how to help you yet? I really need some help too. Thanks Kitty
    Kimberly
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Ok , our friend has acreage with a mobile home on it. His step daughter and spouse bought it,fixed it up and then couldn’t pay for it. They built a porch on it also. The bank repossessed it but wouldn’t come get it due to porch being built on. The land owner called them several times to try to get them to come get it. The bank went out of business and wrote it off so I was told. We want to buy the piece of land that it sits on to build a home. We are actually living in the mobile home at this time. The mobile home is in very good condition and wouldn’t want to scrap it. We have no title to be able to sell it if we bought the land and mobile home. What’s our options.
    Donna McCallum
    Replied over 3 years ago
    What if the owner of the mobile home has not paid taxes on the mobile home for several years? If you go through the process described above are you then responsible for the taxes?
    Kimberly
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Oh I never thought of that. So is there any way around that,that you know of?
    Daniel MacRae Flipper from Bristol, Tennessee
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Where is the download link for the book? After signing up to the website, which is required, you end up with links to online pages only. No download is offered that I can find.
    Patricia
    Replied over 2 years ago
    my parents passed away. we have the title for the mobile home but they brought it 10years away and never had it transferred in their name
    Sandy
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I own my land in Florida, my father put a mobile home on it back in 1999. He passed away in 2006 and still owes on the mobile home. I want to sell the land and the bank that owns the mobile home will not come get it. Can I file an abandonment title on the mobile home? I’m in Florida.
    Kathryn
    Replied over 2 years ago
    We are in the process of obtaining a title through this process. The former owner is cooperative and there is a lien on the home as well as back taxes owed. The lienholder is also cooperative but my concern is the back taxes. Could that come back to haunt us if we use the Abandoned Property process? Thanks!
    Taylor
    Replied over 2 years ago
    In my case, my family bought property and allowed someone to moved their mobile home there and rent the lot. The tenants owed a loan on the mh. A few years after living in the property in the mobile home they decided to move and left the home. It has been about 3 years now and the mh is still there. We would like to get the title so that we can do some remodeling and put some use into the home rather than it just being there. Any advice helps!
    Emanuel
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I really enjoyed the article I found myself in a situation where are bought this property with a mobile home on it. The mobile home has been bricked in and wheel and tow tong removed. It been about a year and started working on property and mobile home now the owner came into the picture after a year and want to claim the mobile home. They want to sell me the mobile home for a out high amount it no way worth ,I got the abandonment title paper work form court house but do not really understand all these steps. The step in your article seem a lot easier any advice would be helpful
    Katie Burrell
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    Hi Aaron I am a tenant in the abandoned mobile home mess. The land owner has went through the abandoned mobile home process and during this process someone forgot a number out of the vin number so he has a tiltle but its missing a number. He went through this and got the mobile home through the courts and paid the taxes and he owns the land that it has been on for 17 yrs. After paying the taxes and getting the county sticker for the window and we moved in!! 2 wks after movinv in we were given papers not by a judge by someone claiming they bought the home from original owner. After digging myself I discovered where the problem was. The missing number. Even county assessors had it wrong even back as far as 2013. The papers that were given to him with number missing to go get title were wrong. Now the Judge that could fix this mess doesnw want to touch it. Dmv and assessors office told us thats all he has to do. He want. Now I am going to be forced out if we dont get some help. A simple mistake is going to cost this person his mobile home. The old owner had no right selling it because as of nov 2017 it no longer belonged to her. The new peole waited on the rightful owner to pay back taxes and they acquired title . Need some advice here in Inman SC Katie
    Joyce SHively
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    We bought 4 acres and what a mh in 2003 as a second home in Ohio. Realtor advertised mobile home with bedrooms, bathrooms, broken windows, etc. and we closed assuming we owned the mh. About 10 years later we decided to sell and that is when we discovered the land had been repossessed, but the home was owned outright by the owner. I have sent letters to about 5 different addresses of the owner with SASE included for a reply. Nothing ever got returned and we never got a reply (not even someone telling us to go fly a kite). We applied to the courts for title, including the improvements we have done etc. (per the court instructions). Judge denied title to us. Now I am finding out we need to go to BMV to get title. But we cannot contact prior owner. We have a copy of the front of the State of Ohio title, but no original, obviously. So how do we apply for a new title when we have not been able to contact owner? Do we follow the process as if we were a mobile home park owner for an abandoned mh?
    Daniel G Osko
    Replied 3 months ago
    I have been renting a Mobile Home in Ashley PA for over ten years now. I have paid the Park Owner over $75,000.00 in rent since I moved in. He is willing to sell the Mobile Home to me for $18,000.00. I just found out yesterday (11-5-2019), that he does not own this Mobile Home. The person who owns it died in 2008. The Park owner is only now going to file for abandonment. So basically, he has made profit by renting this home to me when he never did..., and still does not even own it. Any thoughts of what, if anything, I should do????
    Karla Fernandez
    Replied about 1 month ago
    Thanks this is been a great help. i want to start the process on getting the title of an abandoned home that was left in the property where i work at. My question is i did a title search with the DMV is that the same as filing an abandoned home with the DMV? and also what should i put in the newspaper? I'm sorry this might be easy answers but to me that i have no experience can't find a way to start this process.