Mobile homes and property titles: What you need to know to ensure your mobile home is insured and in your name.

Q: In September, 2017, you wrote an article about how “title insurers don’t deal with mobile-home issues” in our local Ohio paper. This is exactly our situation.

We have contacted motor vehicle department of our state, but since title wasn’t put into our name, or transferred to real estate, they said to contact the Auditor or Treasurer office. We have done this before and were told to submit invoices, etc., for the work we had done to the property since we purchased it. We did this – twice, but judge still denied title to us.

A realtor advertised our mobile-home on 4 acres several years ago. That’s when we then found out that title wasn’t transferred to real estate or even put in our name and we only got the 4 acres, but no home! The home was a repossession from a bank out west and I have not been able to locate the prior owner. Since the title is not in our name, a judge won’t issue us title, and motor vehicle department tells us they can’t do anything for us.

What other recourse do we have? Now we we have stopped paying for the insurance on it as we wouldn’t benefit if anything happened.

A: Sorry to say, but your situation is not unique. Frequently, people that purchase mobile homes that are located on a parcel of land believe that the deed for the property will include title to the mobile home.

But, that’s not the case. Even in a typical home sale, a home seller will give the buyer two documents when it comes to closing. The seller will give the buyer a deed and a bill of sale.

The deed will transfer title to the real property (the land, home and other attached fixtures) to the buyer and the bill of sale will transfer title to the buyer the appliances and other personal property that come along with the house. If you received a bill of sale at your closing and the document stated that you were getting title to the mobile home, you might be able to use that to evidence the transfer of title in the mobile home to you.

Otherwise, title (or ownership) of the home remains in the seller. Think of it this way: if you purchased the home and the seller left a car in the garage, you’d have to have title to the car to prove it was yours. If you didn’t have it, then the car would belong to whoever had the title.

The department in your state that registers mobile homes (which may be the department of motor vehicles) still has the home registered to the seller. You have to figure out a way to have it changed into your name.

Do you have your purchase contract? If so, does the purchase contract indicate that the seller was obligated to transfer title to the mobile home to you? Frequently buyers use a standard form real estate purchase contract to buy a home, even when that home is a mobile home. You need some specific language in the contract that obligates the seller to convey title to the land to you and to convey title in the home to you as well.

Did you use a title or escrow company to close on the property? They might have a record of the document (or if you bought title insurance, might cover you for an eventual loss). Dig out your closing documents to see if you have anything that shows that the mobile home was part of the sale.

Once you find that documentation, you can see if anything you have helps show that you are the legal owner of the mobile home but for the certificate of title. If nothing else works, you might have to find the seller and have the seller give you a bill of sale and sign whatever document your state requires to transfer the title of the mobile home into your name.

Good luck.

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