How to Solve Your Mobile Home Title Issues

Mobile and manufactured homes are still titled like a vehicle in 42 states. And, of course, each state has different processes and protocols when titling a mobile home. TH

In this article, you’ll learn how our state mobile homes are titled in your state, how to correct errors for mobile home titles, and even learn the terminology used in the process.

The biggest problem with mobile home titles is that each state handles mobile home titles a bit differently . In addition, there are many different buying and selling scenarios for mobile homes so things can get real messy real fast.

There are different titling procedures for each scenario and every state handles them their own way. 

  • Did you inherit a mobile home in a park?
  • Are you buying a mobile home but the seller doesn’t have a title?
  • Do you want to sell your mobile home but can’t find the title?

We’ll cover all these situations and more. 

Mobile and Manufactured Home Defined

Mobile and Manufactured homes are built on a steel chassis in a factory and delivered to the home site.

What is a Mobile Home?

A mobile home is a factory-built home constructed before July 1976 when the HUD code took effect. A manufactured home is a factory-built house built after the HUD code and meets national minimum regulations.

What’s the difference between mobile and manufactured homes?

The most popular mobile homes are single wides and double wides but triple wides are gaining interest. The age and size of a mobile home will determine how many states classify and title your home.

Mobile homes can be set up on a lot, with wheels still attached, but you can also install the home permanently on your owned land. There are benefits to permanently installing a mobile home such as tax and appreciation. We’ll cover that below. 

What is a Manufactured Home?

A manufactured home is a factory-built home that was built after June 1976. This date is significant because that’s when the HUD code was officially enacted. However, some homes built a year or so before this date may meet the code because builders had a couple of years to prepare for the regulations. The HUD code made the homes safer, stronger, and more energy efficient and created national regulations that all builders had to meet.

(For simplicity’s sake, going forward we’ll use the term mobile home.)

Understanding Mobile Home Titles, Deeds, Certificate of Origin, Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin

Cars, boats, ATVs, and motorcycles all have titles or certificates proving ownership to the item. Even though a mobile home is a HOUSE they have a title, or sometimes titles, as well. However, a few have a deed. Confusing, huh?


Manufactured homes that are permanently installed to the land and classified as real property will have a deed. Surrendering the title is actually a big part of having a mobile or manufactured home reclassified as real property.

Title, Certificate of Origin, Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin

A mobile home title is also called a certificate of origin or a manufacturer’s statement of origin. Since the early days before mobile homes, titles were used as an instrument to prove both ownership and that all taxes and fees were paid.

A title shows a ton of information: the serial number, the builder and the factory where it was built, and who inspected it.

Since titles act as a certificate of ownership in most states they must be submitted or registered whenever the home has been bought or sold. Every new owner submits the signed title and pays the fees so it can be updated in the state’s database.

Titles also act as proof that a fee has been paid to the state so that the home can be transported via public highways. One certificate is required for each separate unit of the home. Therefore, a double wide will have 2 titles, a triple wide 3.

State Agency Responsible for Mobile Home Titling

In the majority of states, the Department of Motor Vehicles will be the agency you need to deal with regarding mobile home titles.

Oregon is a state that doesn’t use titles through the DMV for mobile homes. They’ve released a very informative booklet called Manufactured Home Ownership Document Transaction Guide.

A simple Google search with you state and the words ‘mobile home title’ will help you locate the agency that handles mobile home titles.

Personal Property or Real Property?

In most cases, a new manufactured home always starts as personal property or chattel. Chattel simply means any privately-owned property that isn’t real estate. Boats, cars, campers are all considered to be chattel.

75% of all mobile and manufactured homes in the US are classified as personal property even if the homeowner owns the land.

Chattel Classifications

A manufactured home is not is almost always titled as personal property when it is purchased new.

If you own the land that a mobile home is on but it isn’t permanently installed it will remain classified as chattel. The advantage of a personal property classification is usually lower taxes.

Mobile homes classified as a personal property has many disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage is that chattel lending has higher interest rates and shorter loan terms. The second disadvantage, and most problematic, is lackluster appreciation rates. Manufactured homes not attached to property rarely gain value well.

Application for retirement of mobile home certificate of title in florida
FL application for retirement of a mobile home title so it can be classified as real property.

Real Property Classification

A mobile or manufactured home can be reclassified as real estate or real property. To do this, the home must be permanently installed on privately owned land. A very few states will allow mobile homes to be classified as real property if they are permanently installed on land with long-term leases.

When the home is permanently attached the owner will file for a Certificate of Retirement (or equivalent) and a real estate deed is then issued for the whole property.

The Uniform Mobile Housing Act (UMHA) outlines a nationwide system that could help homeowners convert their homes into real property. This system could help brand new manufactured homes get classified as real property as soon as it’s permanently installed on the homeowner’s land – skipping the personal property classification completely. Anything that will help increase the real property classification is worth attention.

A few notes:

  • Only 25% of manufactured homes are classified as real property in the US.
  • 75% of all manufactured homes are on land owned by the homeowner.
  • Land owned by manufactured homeowners is (on average) twice the size of a site-built homeowner.

To have your chattel home reclassified as real property you will need to follow your state’s process, usually, that starts with a ‘Certificate of Location’ with the county and pay the associated fees.

Retiring a Mobile Home Title to Become Real Property

To get a mobile home classified as real property many states require the owner to retire the title. For example, Florida has one of the more complex mobile home title retirement systems. Once the title is retired and the warranty deed issued, future transfers will occur with deeds instead of the old title applications (source).

Mobile Home Titles shares the rules and process:

  • the mobile home and land are properly titled into the same names
  • the home is permanently affixed to the land
  • the home is legally declared real property with valid RP stickers issued
  • The Manufacturers Statement of Origin can no longer be retired but must be titled first
  • the mobile home and land must be in the same names and home permanently affixed to the land before the mobile home title can be retired
  • all mobile homes must have valid RP stickers before they can be retired.
  • Most counties in FL need to see that the mobile home is included in the legal description on a deed where the land and home have been sold together as a package.

It’s even more complicated to severe a manufactured home from a real property deed. The state of VA published a full list of the steps required.

Mobile home seriel number on beam
Mobile home serial number stamped on chassis.

VIN: Vehicle Identification Number

Each manufactured home has a Vehicle Identification Number, just like your cars and trucks. For a double or triple wide, the VIN will be the same number with an A, B, or C added to the end to represent each section.

If you have an older mobile home, the VIN will likely be on a decal or sticker, or stamped, under the front steel cross-member of the chassis or tongue.

In newer homes, it will be the easiest way to find your VIN is on a white sheet of paper with a map of the US. These papers are glued to the walls of a master closet, the back of a kitchen cabinet door, or in the laundry room.

Manufactured home hud tag - data plate example
A manufactured home data plate is just a sheet of paper.

Updating a Title is Important

Many legal and tax issues have occurred because a buyer failed to register the title into their name through the state agency (usually the Department of Motor Vehicles).

A may buyer think just having the title on hand, without registering it into the state’s database, means they completely own the home. This is not true in many states. Until the title has been issued into the new owner’s name, the home is ‘technically’ still the sellers.

Ordering a Duplicate Title

If you buy an older mobile home and the current owner doesn’t have the title, you will need to have the seller order a duplicate title.

In some states, it’s very easy to file for a duplicate title on a mobile home. In others, it’s a multi-step process that could cost a couple of hundred dollars.

As an example, applying for a new certificate of ownership in West Virginia requires the following information:

  • Ownership documents such as loan contract, insurance policy, and personal property tax receipts for the last five years
  • A VIN Verification (DMV-1-B) completed and signed by a law enforcement officer
  • A completed Certificate of Title for a Motor Vehicle
  • A completed Owner and Purchasing Affidavit
  • $15.00 title fee

Common and Not-so-Common Titling Issues for Mobile Homes

You can hire mobile home title service companies that can help clear up any legal issues. They’ve seen every possible scenario. One company shares some of the most memorable mobile home title issues:

  • the mobile home title may have never been transferred and could still be in the name of the third owner back
  • the home could still be in the deceased mother’s name
  • the title could still be in the name of the bank that foreclosed on it six years ago
  • or in the ex-husband’s name who has been in jail for 9 years
  • property issues, sales tax, or back mobile home taxes due
  • the seller may be an investor or a bank that owns multiple mobile home properties has the  wrong title

Do Not Buy a Mobile Home Without a Title

If you are buying a mobile home with no title, stop. Do not continue with the process until a legal title or certificate of ownership is visible and valid.

You need a valid title for two reasons: to make sure the seller is listed as the owner of the home and to make extra sure there are no liens or holds attached to the title/mobile home.

Do not close on the transaction until you have the correct title in hand.

WV’s web page has the following in bold lettering:

No person may transfer, purchase, or sell a mobile home, house trailer, or manufactured home without a certificate of title.

That shows just how important a title is when buying a mobile home.

The owner of record must be available to transfer ownership, so you, your realtor, or the closing attorney have to track them down so they can sign the title over to you.

The owner or seller will contact the DMV or state agency in charge of mobile home titles and file for a lost or duplicate title request. In order to get a replacement title, the owner will need to prove ownership and that all taxes are paid. This can be a tricky endeavor and all kinds of issues can arise.

Mobile home title in new york
New York State mobile home title

How to Change the Name on a Title

For a simple name change on a valid title you just need to give the state agency the information they need and pay a fee. Some states will require a ton of paperwork.

Wrong Name on the Title

If you want to buy a mobile home but the name is wrong on the title there is a two-part process to get it corrected. Basically, there are two title transactions that need to happen in this scenario but you’re only involved in one.

First, you have to find the true owner listed on the title and have them sign the title over to the person selling the home to you. In some states, they will hand that over to the state, pay the necessary fees, and have a new title printed. The seller will sign the new title over to you. You’ll then repeat the process with the DMV or titling agent in your state to have a new title printed with your name as the owner.

Fortunately, many states allow all three parties to sign the same certificate of title and some have started electronic lien and title services.

There are times when a home has been sold but the paperwork was not “official”; in those cases, a paper Bill of Sale is NOT sufficient to prove ownership; the original owner must be a party to the transaction.

If a seller doesn’t have the legal title to the mobile home you must insist they get one. A bill of sale will not suffice as proof of ownership in most states. Yes, it may work in many situations but it will not work for most state titling.

Did You Inherit a Mobile Home?

If you inherited a mobile home that has been paid off you need to get the title put in your name as soon as possible. The estate executor can sign the title over to you. You can also file for Power of Attorney and handle the legalities from that angle.

If the home is still being paid on, you will need to pay the home off and have the title put in your name or contact that lender. Hiring an attorney will be your best move in most inheritance situations.

Make Sure it’s the Right Title

Make sure there is a valid title. If there isn’t a valid title you must insist the seller goes to the DMV or state agency to get one. Do not buy a home without a valid title.

Do not buy a home without a valid title.

You must ensure it’s the right title. Check for the data plate mentioned above in a closet or cabinet and see that the numbers on the home match the numbers on the title.

Make Sure there are No Liens

If the title is valid and the numbers on the home match the title, go to your state agency and use the numbers on it to make sure there are no back taxes, liens, or holds attached to the home. In most states, you will need to do this in person.

Some states, like Utah, have an online search system to check for liens. Your state may as well. Do a quick Google search using terms like ‘lien search in your state’ or ‘mobile home lien search.’

Is it an Unidentifiable Mobile Home?

If you can’t find the data plate or serial number you may still have a remedy but it will cost money.

Some states, like Florida, have support agencies that will inspect the home to look for identifying information and establish documentation to help back a title application. Private title companies may be able to help as well.

Each state varies, so you will need to contact the state agency that handles titles (see below) to see what the protocol is for unidentifiable mobile homes.

What to do if there are Liens on a Mobile Home Title

The is only one good thing about dealing with liens and titles on a mobile home. The paperwork is easy to find because liens are usually recorded diligently.

The bad news is that there is money owed on the home. Therefore, the title can’t be transferred to you until those liens are settled.

If the seller is using the proceeds from the sale to pay off that lien it’s a pretty standard transaction. You can get a clear title once the debt is paid (the closing attorney pays that directly to the lender on your behalf). Just make sure you use a middle man or escrow.

The seller must pay all liens off before you can get the title.

Mobile home titles are confusing
Dealing with mobile home titling can be difficult.

Rent-to-Own, Title Searches, and Liens

Be very careful with all rent-to-own situations.

One of our readers told a heartbreaking story about their rent-to-own experience. They had purchased a small property in NC with a permanently installed single wide on a rent to own contract. The property was valued at $58,000 and they paid 10% down. They had an accountant friend look over the paperwork and the title was present and valid. A quick title search was done at the county courthouse.

The home buyer thought she had done everything right. But two years later she received a letter from a bank in Georgia demanding they vacate the property. They lost the property because the seller had used the property as collateral to buy another property in SC. When they failed to make the payments the property in NC was forfeited.

These situations happen far more than most realize and it’s especially easy with mobile homes.

If you are thinking of buying a mobile home through a private sale you need to hire an attorney or agent that is well-versed in the process. There are so many things that can go wrong. It really is worth the added expense.

State Guides to Buying and Titling Mobile Homes

We’ve published several articles that detail all the most important information you need to buy a mobile home in that state. Click here to see our state guides to buying a mobile home.

Mobile Home Titling Could Use Some Changes

Mobile home titles, property classifications, and VINs are frustrating obstacles faced by buyers and sellers. It’s as frustrating as painting vinyl walls!

Watch Out for Parks

I’ve heard a few stories over the years that absolutely make my blood boil and they all involve parks and titles. Some parks require titles to the home and then refuse to give them back when you try to sell the home. A park in MI is being sued by several people claiming the park used some very shady tactics to essentially steal the home.

Plaintiff purchased a 1970 mobile home with money he inherited from the death of his father.  When he decided to relocate, he found a buyer for his mobile home but the mobile home park refused to approve the purchase.  In fact, the mobile home park repeatedly proposed that he simply sign over the title to the mobile home in lieu of unpaid lot rent.  Plaintiff refused because the value of the mobile home was much greater than the rent he owed and he informed the park that he would pay the rent from the sale proceeds.  He continued with his efforts to sell his home when he heard from an interested purchaser that someone was living in his home. Plaintiff then discovered that he had been formally evicted from the park without having been given notice and that three weeks later, the mobile home park had claimed they “purchased” his mobile home, obtained a title and sold it to someone else.  

Parks wouldn’t be able to do this if the titles were handled differently. Mobile home owners should have their own titles or registration systems that is separate from the automobile.

Titles are complicated because we’re using a system made for automobiles. In the beginning, when mobile homes and trailers were towed by personal automobiles, it made sense to use a titling system but it doesn’t make sense anymore. Our homes are not cars. 

If you have any tips or advice titling a mobile home in your state please let us know in the comments below.

As always, thank you for reading Mobile Home Living! 

123 thoughts on “How to Solve Your Mobile Home Title Issues”

  1. Hi, I am a real estate agent trying to help a client. Does anyone know where to find information on retired title in PA, I have tried the dmv, title and tag, recorder of deeds, and county clerk. no one seems to have any idea what I am talking about. PLEASE any information would be much appreciated.

  2. Hi Kim,

    I’ll be honest, this is over my head. I’ve never dealt with trustee issues on a mobile home though I have had titling issues when my father passed and I was given his truck. It wasn’t paid off so I was told to just keep it in his name till I could pay it off and get the title.

    I got the title about 6 months later and it was in dad’s name in WV (I’m living in SC now). My step mother was the executor so she had to sign it but she did it incorrectly. It’s been well over a year and I’m still trying to straighten it all out. I can definitely understand the frustration. I can’t even get tags for the truck (I’ve been pulled over because I put tags from an old truck I have that needs a tranny but I’ve paid all the taxes and keep insurance on dad’s truck but the tags don’t match the truck. Thankfully, once I told the cop the situation and showed him the papers he understood but I really need to stop speeding though!)

    Here’s what I do know as far as WV goes with estates: there is a special office at our county courthouse just for executor and will issues. They deal with all kinds of issues like yours and I wish I would have known to call them months ago because they knew exactly what I needed to do and pointed me in the right direction. Maybe your county has the same department?

    I’d def check on the part about her signing it because no one should sign a title until an actual transfer is taking place – it doesn’t make sense to me that she would need to “pre-sign’ the title for an inheritance situation. An executor (you) should be able to sign the title to get it out of her name and into the estate’s name (I’m not certain – just going by what happened with my dad). Once it’s in the estates name it can then be transferred to you (trustee). Please don’t take me on this and definitely try to get advice from a knowledgeable source. – It’s honestly over my head but please keep me updated. Best of luck.

  3. I am about ready to close escrow on my Mom’s mobile home. My lawyer informed me that the mobile was in her trust due to her pour-over will she has. I asked if there was anything I needed to do with the title. I was told to speak with the realtor about that.

    My lawyers legal secretary had conference call with escrow and told them it is in the trust due to the pour-over will and I was told by the secretary to make sure I signed forms appropriately with trustee behind my name. I am 1of2 beneficiaries, and I’m also named as trustee and Executor.

    Yesterday, escrow informed me that the mobile is not in the trust because my mom did not transfer the title. I knew nothing about this and we are closing escrow. I don’t know what to do. I didn’t have to probate because everything was in the trust per my lawyer. That was the reason why I got a lawyer. No one ever told me until closure of escrow that the title was still in my Mom’s name. Please if you can help with this issue and give me some idea of how screwed I am or what I can do.

    Thank you,

  4. I bought a mobile home with a cashier’s check for 51.000 thousand dollars that day I gave the money the owner said he would get me the Title it has been a yr still no title I have asked several times he kept giving me excuses so what can I do I don’t think he ever had the tile I only got a bill of sale do I need to get a lawyer to get my money back

  5. If the mobile home is not too old to be moved and a title is present, what is stopping a buyer from moving a mobile home to their own property? I see a lot of listings of mobile homes for sale and the listing says that it cannot be moved.

    After reading your informative article, I assume that it is because either the buyer does not have the title in their name or that they refuse to file for a lost title.

    If a buyer manages to get a mobile home title signed over to them and it is in a mobile home lot or somebody else’s land, what is stopping the buyer from legally moving their property? If a car breaks down on somebody else’s property and it is in reasonable distance to a public road, I am not aware of any laws that prohibit that person from recovering their vehicle and mobile homes use the same titling system.

  6. You might try the county clerk or the DMV for your area. There should have been personal taxes being paid on it yearly. They may have a copy of the title or be able to produce something for you.

  7. My mother passed and we cannot find the registration or certificate for the mobile home. It is a 1964 Pacemaker. any suggestions ? thank kyou

  8. My son but a down payment on a Modular that they say has no title because it was built in 1994. He is trying to get a loan but nobody will give him one as there is no title. Now what should he do?

  9. I own my land and then I bought an old mobile home and placed it on my land using it as a storage I do not have a title how can I get a title or what should I do

  10. I bought a mobile home about two weeks ago and the seller then handed me the so called “open title”. He is unavailable now and I don’t want to go into the legal battle. But, now, I can’t get the title in my name because the mobile home title has never been transferred and it is still in the name of the third owner back. What should I do?

  11. What if a mobile home park has evicted a tenant that owns his own mobile home and abandons he’s home when he is legally evicted….how does the property owner obtain a title after assuming ownership. This would be in the state of West Virginia

  12. I bought my home in 2001 in Michigan as (REAL PROPERTY) on a Deed. Now I want to sell and the Bank tells me I have NO Affidavit of Affixture, Never had one and cant get one due to I have NO TITLE! Secretary of State wont help either due to I have no Information about the Mobile Home that has been totally redone and Looks like a Ranch house. The Law change in 2003 and no Grandfather clause for those of us who bought Mobile Homes as (REAL PROPERTY) on Deeds! Without titles……….

  13. I bought a new mobile home from a dealer in in Paris Tennessee. I had the home moved to to Kentucky area just across the state line. The home is a is a 2017 model.. I want to sell it.. I cannot find a find a title.. I paid cash for the mobile home.. I have called The county clerk where the mobile home is set up and the county clerk and Tennessee in Tennessee I give them my Name and and the Vin number . There is no information about about the title of this mobile home a mobile home at any county clerk’s office.. I called I called the dealer I bought it from they have all the information where I purchased itHow do I go about getting a title for my home.

  14. I bought a new mobile home from a dealer in in Paris Tennessee. I had the home moved to to Kentucky area just across the state line. The home is a is a 2017 model.. I want to sell it.. I cannot find a find a title.. I paid cash for the mobile home.. I have called The county clerk where the mobile home is set up and the county clerk and Tennessee in Tennessee I give them my Name and and the Vin number . There is no information about about the title of this mobile home a mobile home at any county clerk’s office.. I called I called the dealer I bought it from they have all the information where I purchased itHow do I go about getting a title for my home.

  15. If it isn’t considered real estate I would take it to the DMV and see if they can help you do a trace to get the lien removed. If you have a copy from the lender of the payoff that would be a big help.

  16. We bought a manufactured home in 1996, it was paid off in 2011,I sent for a duplicate title and receive it with lein stillon it, also the loan company is out of business. So what do I do?

  17. In selling a mobile home, seller is taking half down with a balloon payment in November for the balance. Is the title changed to Buyers name with a lien by seller, or is title kept in Seller’s name, giving title to buyer’s when it’s paid in full?

  18. My son bought land with a single wide mobile home on it but did not get the title. Turns out the title is in the name of the seller to the previous owner. It is possible this title owner will not transfer it to my son even though it is not in good condition. The title is in the husband’s name and he is currently mentally incompetent. Is there another way to get the title to this mobile home?

  19. We bought a mobile home from our neighbor who did not have a title, well he did but I will get to that in a bit, but he signed a bill of sale and we had a witness. We have lived here and paid taxes for over 12 yrs. We do not own the land, just the mobile home. We are very good friends with the land owner. Our neighbor, the seller, we found out is very shady and before we paid our down payment and moved in, he got a down payment of 1500 from someone else and gave them the title, but continued to sign the bill of sale when we paid it off and accept our payments. Both he and the person who has the title are impossible to work with, plus we dont even know if the title is even in his name. My husband is sick and I am afraid if he passes I will be harrassed. How do I resolve this?

  20. My mom has passed away and there was no will or any thing wrote out, and I had the paperwork for her mobile home and paid for the tax clearance and WHT nit and the paperwork came back and said we needed to sign and the owner of the mobile home needed to sign as well but my mom has passed so she obviously can’t sign and the death certificate is in with all the paperwork that I originally sent them

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