Buying a mobile home seems straightforward, but it isn’t always. The transfer of title is sometimes more complex and time-consuming than you want. While having title insurance and a property fraud alert are excellent options once you have the title in your name, getting there is the first hurdle. There are some common issues that buyers run into with mobile home titles. If you keep these in mind, you should be able to resolve any problems.
1. Lost or Missing
A lost or missing title isn’t the end of the world. As long as the current seller is also the current owner of record, it’s simply a matter of obtaining a duplicate title. A local title agency should be able to walk you through the steps. Usually, the current owner simply has to provide proof of ownership and pay a small fee. The duplicate title should arrive in the mail.
2. Finding Owner and Title
Most owners will be happy to meet you and transfer the title in person. After all, as long as the title is in their name, they are responsible for any taxes or accidents that occur on the property. Usually, the title transfer has to be handled within a number of days, or a fine has to be paid. So yes, this is a time-sensitive issue.
Some sellers will tell you that a Bill of Sale is good enough. Don’t be fooled by a Bill of Sale. A Bill of Sale is basically a receipt, but it is not a title. It also doesn’t legally substitute for a title. If the owner isn’t available, track them down. A private investigator or skip tracer could be helpful here if you’re having difficulty. If the owner says that the title is currently lost or missing, obtain a duplicate title, as mentioned previously. Always remember that as the buyer, you are not the true owner until the title is legally in your name.
3. Seller Is Not the Owner
When the seller isn’t the owner, there’s an extra step or two required. If the owner has already signed on the seller’s line, the seller can sign as the buyer and have the title placed in their name. Once this has been done, the seller is now officially the owner and can transfer the title to you. However, not all states allow this to be done in the same day. Check to be certain that this is legal. If the owner has not signed on the seller’s line, they have to do so before the title can be transferred. As noted above, most owners will be happy to meet with you. Otherwise, they may have to be tracked down.
If a lien is currently on the property, the owner is unlikely to have the title. Lienholders usually have possession of the physical title. Once the lien is paid in full, a “Release of Lien” should be issued, and the title returned to the owner. A “Release of Lien” could be listed on the title instead. It isn’t always a separate document.
Once the mobile home is free and clear of debt, the title can be transferred normally. You can use the mobile home’s VIN to confirm whether or not a lien is in place. Call your state to confirm. Some states can pull up the information immediately, while others require more time.
When working with titles, it’s always beneficial to have the assistance of a property fraud alert. Contact Secure Title Lock at (801) 225-2888 if you any questions or would like help protecting your title.