It’s important to have a property title in place before you can sell, even if it means hunting down or replacing lost documents.

Q: We purchased our property (2.4 acres) about 20 years ago. The main house is a mobile home on a cement foundation. During the process of selling our property, we discovered that the title company that handled our purchase in 1995 made a mistake and never transferred the title of the mobile home to us, and it is still in the former owner’s names.

We are unable to sell our property due to this issue. We have no idea how to fix it and have already invested money in a new home. But we can’t close on our purchase until our current property is sold. Any suggestions?

A: The first thing that you should know is that title insurance companies deal with issues relating to the land and the improvements located on the land: for example, your ownership of the 2.4 acres and your ownership rights to any permanently attached structures and improvements on the land.

The big however here is that a mobile home is not considered part of the land – the mobile home is considered personal property in the same way a car, motorcycle or motorboat is considered personal property. As with cars, motorcycles and motorboats, you usually have a certificate of title that the seller give you and you then, in turn, have the state office that issues vehicle certificates issue a new certificate in your name.

You need to see if you received the title to the mobile home 20 years ago and see if you still have it. If you didn’t receive it or don’t have it, you should look through your paperwork and see if you can find a bill of sale or other document that specifically transfers the ownership of the mobile home to you. You will then need to follow the requirements set forth by your state in having a replacement title issued in your name.

If you know where the seller went and can get in contact with him, you might be able to have him apply for a replacement certificate of title for the mobile home and transfer the name to you at the same time. Usually title insurance companies will have nothing to do with certificates of title for mobile homes. If for some reason, the title company that handled your sale was an attorney settlement agent that took it upon himself to transfer the title to the mobile home to you, you might have a claim against that settlement agent for his failure to comply with the closing requirements.