The Abandoned Mobile Home Process: How to Obtain the Title

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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.

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.

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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!

About Author

Aaron Kinney

Aaron Kinney has been investing in mobile home and land properties with his dad since 2011. He's been a full-time investor since mid-2014 and when he's not working on the business, he can be found reading, playing tennis, or going on adventures with his wife. He has some books and a blog that discuss various aspects of mobile home investing at his website and helps investors speed up the creation of paperwork here.

29 Comments

  1. Charles Morgan

    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

      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.

    • Aaron Kinney

      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.

  2. Dani Swope

    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?

  3. Rosey kennedy on

    Hello my name is Rosey and i am 20 years old, when I was pregnant with our first child, my husband and purchased a forclosed mobile home on an acre of land in April of 2014. We are 1st time home buyer and our knowledge is limited with how the whole process works.the title to the trailer was not combined with the land so Bank of America (the seller) could not sell the house with a mortgage or loan, only cash purchase. So we came along and bought the property full cash purchase, and we recieve only a deed to the property, no title for the house. So I am in the process of trying to find out how to obtain the title. I have tried to contact the original owner of the house who has the original title, however I have come to dead ends. I am looking for assistance in trying to successfully obtain the title to the house and combine it with the land. Can you help me?

  4. Annette Ammarell

    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.

  5. 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

      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.

  6. 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

      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.

  7. 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?

  8. Aaron Kinney

    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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. Donna McCallum on

    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?

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