In most states, mobile homes (so long as they haven’t been detitled and considered part of the real estate) are titled at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Transfer of the mobile home is completed by both the buyer and the seller signing the back and paying the small transfer fee at the DMV.
This is a very simple process so long as the seller has the title. In this post, I want to discuss a few situations when the seller doesn’t have the title and how the buyer can get the title.
First, we’ve come across many sellers who have just simply lost the title. At the time of this writing, we’re buying a property where the seller has a xeroxed copy of the title but doesn’t have the original title. He is going to the DMV this morning to get the title and we’ll close this afternoon. No big deal!
We’ve encountered other sellers who have arrived to the closing and forgot to bring the mobile home title. (We’ve made a point to try to remind them a few hours before the closing to bring this and the keys to the home.) In this situation, we’ll ask to hold money back in escrow (anywhere from $500 to $1,500) that will be released once the seller has delivered us the title.
We’ve dealt with other sellers who bring the mobile home titles to closing in a family member’s name who hasn’t signed the back of the title and isn’t present for the closing. Again, we’ll proceed with the closing but hold a little money back in escrow until the seller can get us the needed signatures.
A few months ago we bought a property that the seller had inherited. The mobile home was still in the deceased family member’s name and the title had been lost. All it took was sending the DMV a copy of the probate information that showed that the seller was the one heir of all the deceased family member’s property. (I would imagine it would be much more complicated if there were multiple heirs.)
We’ve dealt with properties where the seller would not help us get the mobile home title (we see this every now and then with bank-owned REOs). In this case, we’ll go through the abandoned mobile home process to get the title. Here’s my post at Bigger Pockets that outlines how to do this in South Carolina (should be similar to other states):
It normally takes a few months to go through this process and about $100. It’s fairly straightforward once you’ve done it once or twice but we’d obviously prefer to work with the seller to get the title much faster.
Finally, I can’t believe I did this twice over a two week period in December 2015. I lost the titles before I was able to transfer them into our company name. I still have no idea what I did with them. In each case, we offered the seller $100 plus paying all transfer fees to get us a duplicate title from the DMV which luckily they agreed to help us.