Mobile Home Title Issues - Should I buy without clear title?

5 Replies

I have an opportunity to purchase three MH's and the land they all sit on.  The cash flow numbers work on this deal, but there is a red flag in that the titles to the Mobile Homes are not in the sellers name.  There is a clear record of the transfer of ownership of the land to the seller, but the titles to the MHs themselves were not transacted correctly over the years.  They are still titled in the name of two prior sellers ago.  To complicate this further, I believe the Title Holder of record may be deceased now.  What options do I have to acquire legal title to these MH's?   

A few variables to consider when doing this: 

  1. How long have the homes been abandoned by their owners?  The longer the period the less likely they will be claimed as part of your state's abandonment process - which you will need to use to obtain title after closing on the land; 
  2. Are these homes currently being rented and maintained by the landowner?  Will there be a dispute among the tenants or do you have copies of the leases / estoppel letters that confirm they are simply renting?  You don't want legal issues when it comes to evictions; 
  3. It's backwards for the Seller to put any value on these homes if they don't actually own them, so I do hope they're a bonus as part of the land purchase and not the core reason for your purchase...but it does happen and you need to account for that risk based on the answers to the first two above.

There are some companies that specialize in getting titles for these situations, you might consider seeing if they can do their magic prior to close so this is not a risk item for you...but in many states it can take 3+ months so may not be doable.

Keep us posted.

@Reid Hanley If you own the land, you may be able to file for abandonment for the mobile homes. Check with your local government entity in charge of titling mobile homes. As long as the taxes are paid up, you shouldn't have an issue. Good luck!! 

We had a recent situation where we were buying a MH to move off of a lot (lot owners are going to build a house). There was considerable confusion regarding the "title" (SOL). It turned out that the state's MH Division (and holder of title) does not communicate well with the county appraisal district. The current lot owners had attached the MH to the lot several years ago, making it real property rather than personal property, but the MHD still had it as personal property. They were telling us that we had to chase down the estate of the previous owners (who were deceased). But, it turned out we just had to facilitate conversations between the 2 departments (MHD and Appraisal) to clean it up. We were then able to proceed with our plans. Might be worth checking...