How to Find out If a Mobile Home Has a Lien on It

By Karina C. Hernandez - Updated May 31, 2017
Mobile home

Find out if a mobile home has a lien by obtaining title information from the county records office. If the mobile home was built before June 15, 1976, or is not on a permanent foundation, research liens with the motor vehicle department. Liens can prevent the sale, refinance or other transfer of title for a mobile or manufactured home. The term mobile home is largely used to refer to factory-built homes, in general. Manufactured homes are titled as real property, much like site-built homes, and mobile homes are titled as personal property, much like motor vehicles.

Manufactured or Mobile? Affect on Lien Search

Manufactured homes, which have a permanent foundation, were known as mobile homes before 1976 when the Department of Housing and Urban Development established construction and safety standards, or the HUD Code. HUD-compliant homes are considered real property and registered with the county records office. Mobile homes that are not compliant with HUD, and not on permanent foundations, are registered with the state motor vehicle authority. Research records with either of these to find liens, depending on how your home is classified. A title is assigned for each section of a manufactured home, so a double- or triple-wide has two or three titles that must be researched.

Title Companies Do the Research

Hire a title insurance company to search public records, such as liens. Title insurance is typically a requirement when buying a home or refinancing. You will first receive a preliminary title search, which provides a brief overview of the home's ownership history, or chain of title. The report discloses liens such as mortgages, property tax liens, mechanic's liens, and the names of parties who have an interest in the home. If a seller is indebted to an attorney, the attorney's fee may also appear as a lien. However, a preliminary title search won't disclose any and all possible liens.

A document known as a statement of information from the seller, or from yourself, if refinancing, allows the title company to use personal identifying information, such as a Social Security number, to thoroughly search public records for all liens. The search may find court judgments, income tax liens, or family support liens, which would also prevent a clear transfer of title. Title insurance typically costs about 1 percent of the loan amount.

Mobile Home Lien Research

Motor vehicle authorities often offer online portals for looking up mobile home titles. You may be required to register to use this online service. In most states, mobile home owners or their dealers must register the certificate of title after each transfer or sale, with the motor vehicle department. This makes any future liens a matter of public record. If this service is unavailable, looking up liens can be more rigorous and may involve requesting that the seller of the mobile home provide all lien information as a condition of sale.

About the Author

K.C. Hernandez has covered real estate topics since 2009. She is a licensed real estate salesperson in San Diego since 2004. Her articles have appeared in community newspapers but her work is mostly online. Hernandez has a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and works as the real estate expert for Demand Media Studios.

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