Manufactured homes, most commonly known as “mobile homes,” present a unique challenge for real estate professionals, particularly when it comes to the issue of whether they should be titled as real property or personal property.
Real Property vs Personal Property
Real property consists of land and buildings or structures permanently affixed to it. Personal property is any tangible property that can be moved around or is not affixed to real property, including things like boats, vehicles, furniture, and animals.
By these definitions, you can see where the conflict between which category something like a manufactured or mobile home would fall into.
Mobile Home Detitleization
In the past, mobile homes were typically meant to be moved from place to place; they included wheels, hitches, and axles to make them easier to move around, hence the “mobile” in the name, and as such were seen as vehicles that fell under the jurisdiction of the Division of Motor Vehicles. This meant they were also titled as vehicles through the DMV.
Today, with the exception of Recreational Vehicles (RVs), these homes are now typically made to be affixed to a foundation on a piece of real property are more accurately referred to as “manufactured homes.” Chapter 143 of the North Carolina General Statute defines a manufactured home as “a structure, transportable in one or more sections, which, in the traveling mode, is eight feet or more in width or is 40 feet or more in length, or when erected on site, is 320 or more square feet, and which is built on a permanent chassis and designed to be used as a dwelling with or without a permanent foundation when connected to the required utilities, and includes the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and electrical systems contained therein.”
Typically, a manufactured home begins its existence as personal property, regardless of where it is located or used. If you own a piece of real property and simply park a manufactured home on the land, the home does not automatically become real property. Instead, steps need to be taken and requirements need to be met in order to designate a manufactured home as a piece of real property that can be added to the deed of a piece of land.
If the manufactured home is currently untitled (not already registered through the DMV), you can record a Declaration of Intent to Affix the home to the property; this must be filed with the Register of Deeds in the county that the property is located in. Next, the wheels, axles, and tow hitch must be removed from the home and it must be placed on a permanent foundation to affix it to the land. The home will then be considered a fixture on the deed to the land, and ownership of the home will now follow ownership of the land whenever it is transferred.
If the manufactured home is already titled through the DMV, you must first submit an Affidavit for Removal of Manufactured Home from Vehicle Registration Files to the DMV to cancel the title. If there is a lien on the title to the home, the DMV must first receive written consent from the lienholder before canceling the title. Once the title is canceled, the home can be affixed to the land following the same process as with an untitled manufactured home.
Let Starling, Rodriguez, & Associates Guide You
Understanding how mobile homes are titled can be tricky. The seasoned real estate attorneys at Starling, Rodriguez, & Associates have guided many clients through a variety of real estate situations and can advise you through the process of affixing your manufactured home to your real property. Contact our office to schedule a consultation and let us help you with your real estate needs.