On this episode of the Mobile Home Park Lawyer podcast Ferd is joined by colleague Kristin Dreasler. Ferd and Kristin discuss how to navigate mobile home title issues. Ferd and Kristin share personal stories and experiences when dealing with mobile home titles and also give you their tips and advice on how to deal with different complications when trying to get your mobile home title correctly.
0:00 – Intro
1:01 – Ferd explains Kristin’s role and how she handles the marketing for the podcast
1:31 – Kristin gives us an insight into her background
3:22 – Kristin speaks about getting a mobile home titled correctly and ideally how it should work every time
7:12 – Kristin explains how to get your mobile home titled when previous buyers have not been titling it correctly before selling it to you
11:19 – Kristin gives us tips and tricks on how to find the people who you need the signature from to get your mobile home licensed
15:27 – Kristin discusses ways to avoid hiring an attorney and having to go through the abandoned housing act
21:24 – Ferd talks about buying homes on taxes and why you would do that
21:58 – Ferd mentions how he avoids his tenants not paying their tax
22:59 – Kristin informs us that when you buy a home through tax sale they do the title work for you
25:52 – Kristin gives us some more advice on how to avoid hiring an attorney and avoiding going through the abandoned house act
29:53 – Ferd speaks about bonded titles and shares a personal story explaining bonded titles further
34:21 – Kristin encourages you not to forge a signature name. Kristin advises you to just take the time to get the signature however you need to. Kristin really encourages you to make friends with everyone at the park as they will be the people who can help you or make your job harder
36:42 – Kristin advises you not to scratch anything out on your title as you’ll have to restart the entire process as the DMV won’t accept it
37:20 – Kristin mentions how if you’re managing multiple parks you should always put the lot number on the bottom left of the title and keep an excel file of all your homes in case you lose your title
40:29 – Ferd states that there are a lot of things that can go wrong with the title so Ferd advises you to be diligent and follow the process
This is the mobile home park lawyer podcast with Ferd Niemann. If you’re looking to generate wealth and passive income in the lucrative world of mobile home parks, you’re in the right place. You’ll discover solutions to the common legal, and operational pitfalls and how to optimize parks to maximize income. Your host is in the trenches. He’s a real estate attorney, financial analyst and mobile home park investor, and operator. Now let’s turn it over to Ferd Niemann.
Ferd Niemann: Welcome back mobile home park nation, Ferd Niemann here again today with another episode, beautiful sunny day here in Kansas city. Today excited to help you welcome my guest. She’s been working with me for about three years. I’ve known her for five or six. She’s a kind of MHP specialist, knows a little bit of everything. Been vital to my company and our success. Kristin Dreasler. Kristin, Thanks for coming on.
Kristin Dreasler: Hey, I’m glad to finally be on the show. Only took you a hundred episodes.
Ferd Niemann: You’re the person behind the scenes, but today you’re in front of the scenes. So Kristin handles a lot of marketing on the podcast and if you get my weekly newsletter, She does that. If she’s given you any special treatment or discounts on some of my fixed fee documents, she doesn’t tell me about it, but she’s got the sheets. She knows my password. She knows my social security number. I trust her inherently, so [01:21 inaudible] ick her off. But Kristin, welcome to the show. Tell us a little more about your background and for those of, our audience that do not know you and then we’ll jump into today’s show.
Kristin Dreasler: Sure. I think I’m a lot like anybody in the mobile home park industry, we didn’t go to college for mobile home. There was no mobile home master’s program you know that you get your bachelor’s for. I went to college at university of Kentucky, go Wildcats and I worked in the integrated strategic communication. So really just a fancy way of saying marketing degree. I never planned on being in a mobile home park space. I actually post college did some work with nonprofits and work in the fashion industry where I did buying for a local boutique in Quincy, Illinois, decided I needed something more. So I jumped on the crazy mobile home park train, and three years later it’s treated me well. I’ve grown, I’ve learned so much and you know, got the new sales that I’m here to share today.
Ferd Niemann: Sounds good. Well, one thing that you’re good at that most people aren’t and it’s one of my least favorite parts of the business is dealing with mobile home title issues. We got our attorneys here handle the title work on, real estate title, but the title work on the mobile homes predates lot of our employees here, but then also it’s an animal of its own. So I wanted today just to walk through some of those, some of the problems and some of the solutions getting mobile homes titled. So I’ll hand it over to you to run point on some of the problems that you’ve been through. I don’t know how many hundreds of these things and I kind of refused to go to the DMV, at this point in my life, even though I’ve got to [03:02 inaudible], I’ve got to go before my next birthday. Cause my driver’s license expire. So other than that, I’m only going to the DMV every five years. But you’ve been there many times. So tell us about, just tell us, maybe start off what’s the general process, if all goes right, and then we’ll, we’ll walk through some of the nightmare scenarios that are always present in the world of trailers.
Kristin Dreasler: So, you know, in a perfect world, we would all love for this process to be commonly described. So perfect world, you find a mobile home. You want to purchase that mobile home, you contact the seller. You say, Hey, I want to purchase it. They go great. They pull out their title. It is registered in their name, the correct make and model [03:41 inaudible]. And they say, great, let’s sell this to you. On a majority of the title, sometimes it’s on the front. Sometimes it’s on the back, they’ll see a signature place for the seller and a signature place for the purchaser. At that time you would have the seller sign that they are selling the home. And then you, as a buyer would put below your signature. Once you do that, you would go to your local secretary of state’s office DMV, and you would go into the title side and say, Hey, you know, I want to come in. I want to change the title, put it in my name. And they have you fill out some paperwork. You pay a fee and fees are always again located online if you want to check your local secretary of state’s office and you do that, you fill out the information page, turn it into them, give it about two, three weeks pre COVID era and yeah, pre COVID two, three weeks post COVID six to eight, depending on your state. We’re in Illinois. So it’s definitely leaning towards eight weeks. And you get that mailed back to you in the mail and you have a clean, what we call is a clean title, which means there are no lien, no anybody else’s name. It’s just, it is what it is like your car title would be. You have the information in your name in print and you’re good to go.
Ferd Niemann: And that’s what you want. I want my name on the front. I want the title name, and there’s nothing on the back. There’s no lien. There’s nobody else. And it’s a simple, easy process. But as we both know, well, a lot of people don’t transfer the titles properly. One of them, most common mistakes, and it’s not really that big a problem to be honest is when it’s transferred hands 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times, and nobody retitle it. And it’s not a problem. So long as the only person that’s sold, that the only person whose name on it is a prior seller and not a prior buyer. So for example, with John Smith was the first owner. And before John Smith, the original title is called an MCO manufactured certificate origin or CO. You get this when you buy it from the manufacturer and if you’re a licensed retail or dealer, you don’t have to pay sales tax because you just basically it’s inventory until you sell it to the first person. Most states, you got to pay sales tax from the outset. A lot of states discounted like Missouri, Kansas, for example, it’s 60 cents on the dollar of a regular sale versus a can of Coke or something. But if the MC, if I’ve got my own retail license, I sell to John Smith, John Smith supposed to put it in his name, John Smith does and he pays a sales tax. And then generally as a retailer, I have to be in the middle [06:06 inaudible] on a new home. So it will be in John Smith’s name. If John Smith wants to sell it to Kristin, not a big deal. He signs it over to Kristin. What typically happens is John Smith sells to Joe and then later to Bob and then to Susie and 10 years go by and then Kristin wants to buy it from Susie. And if it’s got John’s name on it or nobody’s name on the back, then John Smith can sign the back of it. And it’s probably not a big deal. It’s going to look like you bought it from John Smith. The problem is, and that only happens basically [06:37 inaudible] people down the line don’t want to go, go through the process and as long as it’s not dated, you won’t get penalties. If there’s dates on it, then typically there’s a penalty like 30 days to do it and it starts racking up pretty good. Most states have a cap, but [06:49 inaudible] easily be $200, $300 in penalties per title. But let’s go to the normal bad scenario. John Smith sold it to somebody, to Joe I think in my example, Joe’s name is on there as the buyer. You’re now buying it from Suzy. How do we get it in Christine’s name?
Kristin Dreasler: Sure. So in this situation we have a couple of different options we can do here. First option being, if John Smith is listed as the buyer and he has signed the title, it is signed. What we would do at this point is we would do first, we would go ahead and take that title because it’s already signed and we would take that to the DMV and we would process that. And in that time we would also, while we’re waiting for that to be processed as DMV we would have, So we have to contact John Smith because the title is going to have to come back in John Smith’s name. So when that’s the case, John Smith, we find him, you know, track him down on Facebook. You look in Google, you look, you know, your dad’s like very old school. I kid him a lot, but he has a phone book. The phone book has actually helped me with quite a bit of, you know, phone numbers, finding people who don’t have cell phones. So, you know, at that point you have to track down John Smith cause we need his signature. So that’s one way of doing it. The other way of doing it is, so fun fact the mobile home is not actually yours in the eyes of the secretary of state until your name is printed on the title. So in this case, John Smith he has just signed, Hey, I’m purchasing this. If this is the case he’s no longer purchasing it. We can go with the seller who, you know, originally sold it to John Smith, who is now selling it to us. We can go with them to the DMV and there are, you know, depending on which state you live in, there is an affidavit of a correction of sale where you can, you know, the seller can say, Hey, you know, I’m no longer selling this home to John Smith. This home is being sold to Ferd Niemann. And at that, you would then turn everything in the DMV does their magic. They essentially void the signature of the sale for John Smith. And we would get the title back in our name.
Ferd Niemann: That’s good. I just thought of this. You probably have some sort of chart. I know you and I kind of know this process, but if you don’t have a chart, you should create one and we should give it to people. Because it’s hard to follow all the names [09:17 inaudible]. And if somebody sends you a five star review on this episode then send them the chart for free. So that’s one hypothetical. Another option there, I think the end user in my litany of names there was Susie. Susie never had it in her name, but she was supposed to, we can have it shipped to Susie or to us. You have title in somebody else’s name. And if we have a chain of title of a number of bills of sale between all these parties, well, sometimes the person will have a bill of sale which you don’t really need a bill of sale if you sign the title. You get the clean one, you just sign the back and you go title it. The DMV is not going to make you a bill of sale, but it helps to have a bill of sale, especially if you’re going to pay sales tax, you know the prices, and but if you have the chain of bill of sales, we could actually get a title mailed to us in Susie’s name. And if Susie was the rightful owner and we have a bill of sale, whereby Susie gives us all of her right title and interest and indemnifies us that she’s the rightful owner. We can take that in and we can sign, You got to make sure you just predicted their state, or sometimes you got to get the DMV or something to get the right person at the DMV. I can sign off and say, Ferd Niemann comma agent for Susie. And then I can get it titled in Ferd Niemann’s name, irrespective of Susie, not signed on the actual physical title. If I’m, now, you’ve got to be careful. You want to make sure not commit fraud. Sometimes I’ve ran into where some of the DM, I used to go to the DMV and do this. And I went to clerk number one, and she said, we’re not going to do this. You got to get Susie in here. I’m like Susie died the day after she gave me the title. I’m not going to find Susie and I’m not going to go through her errors. So I just come back the next day and I go to a clerk number two, and they just say, here you go. And then they rubber stamped it and I get my title. So that’s one good route. Let’s say we can’t find somebody or let’s talk about routes to find somebody who’s up the chain of title, whose signature we need. What are some ways we can find them?
Kristin Dreasler: Yeah, sure. I mentioned earlier the easy, most obvious ways where, you know, look on Facebook, look on social media. That’s what I usually do. Sometimes the people who, you know, are a chain of custody back there a little bit older, they’re probably not going to have social media, Facebook. So then I, you know, you got to do a little more digging and check on old phone books if you have one. If you’re just recently, you know found this location, If it’s not a park that you are already managing, it’s just a home out of the country. Go ahead and check your tax records, you know, look at property taxes, go back to the years, you know, back through the years and you can find another name. Sometimes you can even squeeze a phone number out of someone. You know, it’s always, you know, I’m a big fan of Google, you know, looking at people, looking for the name, when you have their address, you know, sometimes you find family members. I had an example of someone who you know, it was about three, you know, five years back, they been gone. They were an older gentleman. And I found him through his, I think his nephew on Facebook. And I was like, Hey, you know, I think that this is your grandpa or great uncle, and, you know, Hey, can you help me get ahold of him? And he did. He said, okay. He lives in Ursa 20 miles in this farm town, 20 miles away and got in the car and got the signature. And it happened. Now, that’s not always going to be the case. It’s not always going to be easy. Sometimes you just have to get really creative. And most importantly, it will take time. This is not something that, you know, you can expect to fix in 24 hours. It’d be great if you could. But realistically, when you’re going back multiple years with somebody who signed a title, you know, it’s not going to be easy. You know, if for instance, we you know, acquire some parks that we’ve started managing, if that’s the case, and you’re trying to find, you know, chain of custody, talk with the old owner of the mobile home park, also talk with neighbors, neighbors could say, oh yeah, you know, that’s my uncle, you know, Uncle Jesse, his nephew, girlfriend’s wife, something like that. The unique thing about mobile home parks we found is, there’s definitely a large sense of community. There’s a lot of families that reside in the same mobile home parks. So it’s a lot of people who they know each other or they know someone in someone’s family. So it’s really just picking up the phone, calling people, you know, knocking on doors, if you need to. And, you know, just exhausting every avenue.
Ferd Niemann: Right. I mean, it’s finding the people. So that’s, I think there’s a number of right ways to find people sometimes offer them money. Hey, I’ll give you a hundred bucks to if you can find this person, or we often offer our park greeters or park managers, Hey, go find this person, get the title and you can have it. In particular, It’s hard to find people when the home is worthless and you want to demolish it. Because you’re not supposed to demolish an abandoned home unless you’ve got the title or you go through a number of processes, the most formal processes, the abandoned title Act, abandoned housing act, which typically involves posted notice on the home, posted notice in the newspaper normally every three weeks, three times, send it to the last known person who paid the taxes, the last known occupant, the last known lender, hold an auction, you know, minimum bid. Each state’s a little different, but it’s a long slow process. And honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever had to go through that. People all times are going to go through this process. It’s probably 1500 bucks hire a local attorney. It’s going to take you several months. We’ve always found other ways to get it done that are all legit, right? So [14:51 inaudible], I think better, bigger, better, faster, cheaper. Tell us some of those strategies, because that’s where the magic happens, I think is avoiding having to hire the dang attorney to do the abandoned housing act and slow down. Because as you know, we like to buy a park and demolish those homes right away. Because it changes the culture. It shows the new guys we are serious. And typically the last guy let those homes sit there for years and years and years and years. So getting them taken care of is a vital importance for a park transformation. So tell us some of the ways we find, get title when there’s no known person. There’s no known title easily available.
Kristin Dreasler: Again, there’s multiple scenarios here. One would honestly be, one are the most simple things. If you come in, we have a home you want to abandon look into home first. Sometimes people leave their titles in there, they leave it. I mean, that’s rare. But check the home out first. See if there’s anything in there. A lot of times there’s a lot of papers, you know, files, go through those. Another thing we can do is file for a lost title that the secretary of state’s office. That would require some, a little bit additional work because, you know, we don’t know who owned it first. So we have to be able to go on and verify through the tax assessor. You know, what’s the make and model. What’s the VIN number, a lot of these older homes that we would demolish, they no longer have you know, VIN listed on their [16:16 inaudible].
Ferd Niemann: Let me interrupt to make sure we get all this right. So the VIN you’re talking about is the data plates, it is a single piece of paper. It’s typically behind the fridge or inside of one of the kitchen cabinets or in the electrical panel box in the master bedroom. So that’s if you want to find that, identify the hall, but I want to pause for a second on lost title. You can’t get a lost title [16:40 inaudible] rights to the homes, how do you prove your rights to the home? One trick we use is we regularly get the seller of the park to claim ownership of those homes. And sometimes they say, I don’t have the title of that one. Okay, well, we have a bill of sale and it’s not your typical one pager. Actually it is about one page, but it’s a bill of sale. We use it at closing of the park. And it has in there a bunch of representations and warranties by the seller and indemnifications. And one of them, we list all of the park-owned homes, including the abandoned homes and three out of four times the seller doesn’t, one out of four times the seller say, I don’t own the abandoned homes. I’m not going to represent that I own them. And then you got to go through with some other steps, but oftentimes the seller say, I own those. I just don’t have title. Now, I have some right to that home. We don’t know how much of a right. I don’t have as much as the person whose name is entitled perhaps, but the seller is represented they own it. And seller has told me they own it. And I get to rely on that. And I can take that to the state and say, look, this guy says he owns it. This guy gave me a bill of sale. This guy does not have the physical title. I’m here to file for a lost title and they’ll send it to me in my name. And now the risk is if you know, John Deere who owns the home has been in Vietnam for the last 50 years, comes out of the woodwork and says, Hey, where’s my home. Why did you just demolish my amazing trailer? That’s worth a hundred thousand dollars, cause there was gold bars in it? We can say, oh, I’m sorry to hear that. John Deere, the seller told me he owned it. In fact, he put it in writing. In fact, he indemnify me. So I think you just got to Sue the seller. And if you have some representations, you own it, you’ve basically shifted the risk, reallocated the risk to the seller, and that’s a faster process. And the state will give you actual title. And it’s very low risk of John Deere ever coming out of Vietnam and claiming that home has been empty for 25 years. But an extra belt and suspender method would be take pictures, take videos home to prove it’s absolutely worthless and abandoned. Utilities are not paid. Taxes are not paid. You know, it’s unsafe, it’s been condemned, etc. And I mentioned condemn, that’s another strategy you are praying to get to. If you get the city to condemn the home, there’s often a path to faster demolish timeline.
Kristin Dreasler: You’re absolutely correct on that Ferd. You know, a lot of homes will come into the older parks, you’ll see home, they’re just junk. It’s essentially just scrapped sitting on your lot. At that point, you know, you call your city that’s when you make some friends, when we start manage a park in a new place, we always try, you know, we call them, introduce ourselves, call and introduce yourself to city officials, meet people because those people will be the same ones that can help you, that can make this process easier for you or harder.
Ferd Niemann: Right. And I interrupted you when you were talking about the data plate to find the VIN. Cause sometimes like on one park, we bought there for 25 park owned homes. The guy gave us a box 35 titles and said, pick 25. I’m like, okay, how do we match the home up if the cabinets had been ripped out and you can’t find the data plate. How else do I identify the home?
Kristin Dreasler: One way that, if they still have it, or sometimes it is underneath the hitch. On the hitch of each home there is stamped in the VIN number. Over time, this can erode, it can go away, but we have been able to pull, here in Quincy we’ve been able to pull a VIN number off of a hitch by taking a piece of paper and a pencil and etching it. And we pulled it off. Another way that you can do that. And we can also verify is to look at those county tax records. Look at the tax records, you can pull up your mobile home, your parcel and say, okay, here, here’s the VIN number. They had nine and a half times out of 10, It’s going to be the correct thing. You’re not going to suddenly say, oh, these, you know, these are completely different. And again, if you cannot find any kind of number on this mobile home, you’ve checked everything. It’s not there. It doesn’t exist. Go to that county assessor. That is going to be your law. That’s going to say this is, you know, they’re going to be correct. And that is your VIN number.
Ferd Niemann: Yeah, for the most part, the county has got, depends on the state. Some states don’t have you know, Missouri has personal property tax, Illinois has mobile home property tax. So there typically is a tax man that is watching these homes for purposes of revenue collection. And sometimes they have a HUD seal on the outside too after post 1976, it should have a HUD seal, we’ve seen those off. It’s a big time no, no, [21:02 inaudible] taken off many a times. But yeah, talking with the county is good to identify them. Sometimes you cannot get the VIN, but you can measure it. And this is purely a 16 by 60. It says fleet wood on the front. You tell about the roof line, It’s seventies, eighties, nineties, 2000 and tell the age roughly, and you can likely match them up. But I want to mention taxes. You mentioned finding it through tax. There’s a nice little tip here. You can buy these homes on taxes. I’ve bought, I don’t know, seven or eight homes in tax sale and not because they were worth anything. But just cause it costs $695 in some states, at least a couple of states I’ve done it in. Minimum bid, Nobody bids on them cause they’re worthless because it’s a demolish-full. Pay $695, you get it right there as opposed to paying attorney $1,500 to wait two months. So getting the taxes. So we’ve also bought homes in the tax sale that are worth $20,000. It’s pretty rare. So what I don’t want to do is let my tenants Taxes go unpaid. So one thing we do is we watch the taxes annually to make sure our tenants were paying them. And if they don’t, we have a provision in our lease that we can pay them on their behalf and add it to their monthly invoice. That way these homes don’t get sold for taxes and pulled out apart. How does it, is that as simple as asking to list them? You’re the one that’s been watching those in years past, is that the processes, just ask the county for the tax sale list?
Kristin Dreasler: Yeah, And you know, they’ll give you a list, make sure you ask specifically, Hey, I need the ones with mobile homes. A lot of times it’s going to be just single family housing that’s selling. So just be sure to say, Hey, mobile home tax sale. Again, some there’s, you know, you’re going to see a lot of duds. You’re going to see, you’re going to find some gold sometimes. You know, I know we got really lucky here in Quincy on one of our homes. We bought a tax sale, I think $700, I think, gosh, we you know, bought that $700. The great thing about tax sale is when you purchase it, they do the title work for you. So you purchase it. You said one cheque, you fill out a paper and the tax assessor, when you get it back in the mail and you’ll get the title clean, no need to go to the DMV. So I’m a big fan of purchasing homes at tax sales. But again, you know, you can get really lucky. You can find some gold or, you know, you can find, you know, something like I did. I think my first dud, I found one, it looked beautiful. So tip about tax sale homes, I found one here in Quincy thought it was great. I went and found it in Quincy looked on the outside. You can’t go inside. Doors are locked, windows were crowded and I’m sure you’re still hurting over this. Come to find out, we get the title back. We opened it up and it’s completely destroyed on the inside. Terrible water, You know, it’s unfixable at that point. So, you know, really do a little more due diligence on the homes that you are purchasing. Again, don’t go into the house. You can’t do that, but you can look in the windows, look around and just use some rational skills. You know, what the roof look like. What’s the age of the home. And just imagine what kind of, you know, issues you’ll foresee in the future.
Ferd Niemann: Yeah. I mean just, I mean, I don’t want to give people false hope here, but I would say, it is very rare to find any gold at the tax sale. When I used to work at Jackson county, I saw thousands of people down on the courthouse steps, bidding to buy gold and not very many of them found it. You can’t get inside the homes. A lot of the mobile homes I used to drive the lists and most the homes aren’t there. The county thinks they’re there and nobody’s paying tax on it because the home was demolished already or the home moved away. So it’s more often than not, it’s a waste of time, but we have found a few of them that worked out. One of them we bought was, we bought when somebody was living in it. And they had filed bankruptcy and their bankruptcy attorney forgot to pay the property taxes. So I called the family, said sir, Hey you’re in my house. And they said, no, we’re not, we filled bankruptcy. [24:59 inaudible] supposed to stay a bunch of these you know, [25:00 inaudible] and such. And the attorney said, you can’t do this, Bankruptcy trumps everything. I said, you didn’t pay the taxes. He goes, well, we’re supposed to stop a tax sale. I said, I’m holding the title to this home. So it didn’t. So what are you going to do about it? And he goes, well, I’ll sue you, I’ll win. And I said, your client with no money, going to spend $50,000 to sue me to get this $8,000 trailer. And he’s like, so he ended up offering me like five grand for his mistake and we got paid five grand and gave him the title back, but it was you know, easiest, five grand ever probably. What other ways do we find titles that are, I know you got more strategies. If you can’t find the people in the chain, it’s harder to get the lost title. If the taxes are paid, hard to do that. You don’t want to do the abandoned housing act, unless you have to, what are some other steps before we get there?
Kristin Dreasler: This one, again, it depends on your year. I’ve had a case where the title actually did not exist because when the manufacturer gave it to you know, the purchaser, they never registered it with the state. So at that point, I think it was probably a 2000 and forward. I then thought, okay, I have to call the manufacturer, no title exists. I exhausted my resources looking at, you know, the tax rolls and you know, just anything and everything. It just didn’t exist. So I called the manufacturer said, Hey, I got this home here. You know, this is who I know purchased it. There’s no title, they never registered it. So, you know, you go through a process there and they can send you that original manufacturer certificate of origin. And then you can then put that in, you know, title that in your name. But again, that is, you know, depending on the age, you know, if we’re thinking here like 70s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s most likely the manufacturer, they’re not going to have that information still. I know one of the manufacturers did tell me they only keep, you know, 20 and 11 forward. Everything else is on their old system. And you know, in the sixties, seventies, it was all paper. It wasn’t on the computer, it wasn’t on the cloud like everything we have. Another way of just looking for the title is, you know, going so we did a lost title. You can go and just file for that, look around for it.
Ferd Niemann: What about, we had the double wide in that paradise lane where we were renovating it and we goofed and we did not get the title transferred properly. We didn’t realize the seller who lived in park, who lived in this home didn’t give us the title at the closing and the title was in John Smiths named prior up the chain and John Smith was still alive. So he could have went and got a signature to sign off, but the home was worth $40,000. So we didn’t want John Smith to be like, oh, cool, I need my signature. I’ll just move right into this, get my $40,000 home back. So we were kind of in a pickle. So we had to use a different strategy. And you mentioned so far, and it was bonded title. Explain that process if you recall it and [28:06 inaudible] only time we’ve ever done it like that.
Kristin Dreasler: Yeah. And that was a big thing. So, you know, again, we had this big double wide, we didn’t have a title and we need to do remodel work, get it going. So we got a bonded title. We talked to insurance agents, so bonded title that is saying, you know, someone is vouching for us that, yes, this is, you know, this is their, this is in the works. We presented them with the legal paperwork that, Hey, we purchased this home free and clear from this purchaser that it’s legitimate sale. And at that point, they, you know, they bond the title saying, it’s security for us saying, you know, we’re putting money into this remodel. If, you know, previous owner comes back, says, oh, I want this now. It’s beautiful. It’s fixed. That is going to protect us. That is going to say, hold on, no, that’s not the case. You know, this home is not yours. This is ours, this is Kristin and Ferd’s home. And then you continue to file for the title. Once you have that bonded title, you would then take that information. I think after there’s a waiting period of so many days you can take that information to the DMV and say, Hey, here’s, you know, here’s my information. It’s just an alternative route of doing it. I do recommend when you do something a little off book like that to call ahead, a lot of times when you go the representative that you’re secretary of state’s office, they don’t know what that is. They’re used to seeing a regular title with a signature. So my advice is call ahead, ask to speak to a manager, explain what you’re going to come in for and ask them what exactly you need. A lot of times have to call the state office and get some clarification, you know? So that way you’re not going to your DMV and waiting three hours only to be turned away. So, you know, that’s definitely what I would do.
Ferd Niemann: Yeah. Let me supplement that process a little bit. So the bonded title, it’s basically an insurance policy. So the example here, we bought the park from a guy named Kirk. We bought this home from a guy named Kirk. Kirk did not have the physical title. Kirk did not have any contract with John Smith that we bought it from. We had a contract with Kirk to buy the park who transferred via warranty deed, and then to buy three or four mobile homes, we transferred via a written bill of sale. A couple of which did not have physical titles in his possession. One of which was burned out home with the demo. So we did not have a, you could call it, I think it’s privity of contract with John Smith. So we couldn’t just go get a title, go to the DMV, Hey, look, I bought this from Kirk. They’re going to say whose Kirk. We have it on record of John Smith owning this. We didn’t want to go talk to John Smith. We didn’t want to kind of grab our $40,000, but we were a reasonable buyer in good faith. So we were able to get an insurance policy through our insurance company and [30:52 inaudible] like a $50,000 premium. So what that meant was if we sold the house to, if I sold the house to Kristin, Kristin legitimately can get title because I had a bonded title. Now, if John Smith comes out back from Vietnam and he knocks on the door and says, get out of my home, Kristin says, whoa, whoa, I bought it from Ferd and I got a legit title. Now John’s going to be pissed. So he’s going to call me and Sue me. And I’m going to say, here’s the deal, man. I got a bonded title insurance policy. So you don’t get the actual home back, cause Kristin’s the legit buyer. But what you get is you get to draw down my insurance policy and my insurance company is going to pay you $50,000. So you’re going to be “taken care of.” now because my insurance company is going to lose $50,000, they’re going to charge me a premium and not a premium as in you know, high value, but premium is like an insurance premium. Insurance premium in a $50,000 house, It was about $1,100 per year. And you were required to do it for three years. And if John Smith doesn’t back in three years after you bought the bonded title, presumably he ain’t never coming back and you got away with it. Now that cost you three grand. Now, in our case, we didn’t want to pay three grand or 3,300. Well, we had to, right? So we paid it for one year upfront. And then we sold the house to the next person who get a legitimate title. Now that we had the safety, we figured let’s go see if John Smith’s a nice guy. It turns out he was still alive. He was not a grumpy old man. He was a nice old man. And you or dad went and found him, knocked on his door. And it was at a nursing home or something and said, Hey, John, you sold this to Kirk 25 years ago. He was, yeah, I did that. I Remember, Kirk lost the title. I bought it from Kirk. Would you sign this bill of sale saying any rights you have you give to me? He said, yes, nice guy. He signed. He was paid for by Kirk years ago. So it was fair. We then have paperwork showing we are the rightful owner from John Smith to Kirk or John Smith to us, from Kirk to us. We then give that to insurance company saying, we don’t need your bonded tile anymore, we’re legit. And we canceled the bonded title. We got $900 back and we didn’t have to pay year two or year three and the person who sold it to doesn’t have to worry about Kirk, me or John Smith coming back out of the woodwork to place a claim on their title. So the bonded title process is probably the rarest. I don’t know, 10 people know about it and it’s probably the most complicated. But man, it’s your safety risk of 40 grand in that one instance which was, you know, I was kind of cleaning up a mistake where you didn’t [33:23 inaudible] an acquisition.
Kristin Dreasler: Yeah. And that just, you know, goes into the school of hard knocks things that we’re learning that, you know, that’s what helps it make us, you know, great men in our industry here. You know, the things that you’ve learned, things you’ve learned for just like that. A lot of people haven’t experienced that and I’m sure a lot of people are going to experience that at some point in this game. So, you know, you’re the mobile home park lawyer for a reason.
Ferd Niemann: What’s the one thing we’d never want to do. It happens all the time.
Kristin Dreasler: There is like five things we never want to do. I don’t know what your first one is. I think to me…
Ferd Niemann: In this example, we couldn’t find John Smith, what’s the thing never want to do is? We never want to forge his signature.
Kristin Dreasler: Don’t commit your first fraud, your first felony on a trailer, don’t do it. It’s not worth it. You know, get a better story later, you know, something cooler, but yeah, don’t forge people’s names. You know, sometimes I know it’s probably really tempting. You have someone and you see a signature line free and clear, and it’s just, let me just write their name in, don’t do it. It’s not worth it. And it’s illegal. Don’t, you know, just don’t do it. It’s easy to do, but not worth it. It’s never going to turn out well for you. You know, definitely just take the time, do it right. Get it done free and clear.
Ferd Niemann: We know about that process because we had a tenant that claimed, I think he claimed dad did this and the attorney general got involved and ended up saying, dad didn’t do it. And they couldn’t prove he did it and it was dismissed, but you know, we do our today’s plan first priority, that’s not on my plan today, but it would move at the top of the list. Even the attorney general gives you a ring. So don’t jag with that. But I have clients that said, Hey, what if I just do this? And I’m just like, don’t do that. I don’t want to know. I’m not going to say which client that is. That’ll probably get me in a lot of trouble. Anyway, any other tips or tricks or items we missed?
Kristin Dreasler: Yeah, just some quick tips. Again, like I said, make friends with everybody, you know, [35:36 inaudible] and you catch more flies with honey I think you told me. Also just quick tips about when you actually get the title, make sure it’s not a fake. Couple, you know, a couple of months ago we had a woman she gave me a title [35:51 inaudible] looked great, Everything was signed, everything was great. Go to the DMV, they say, you touched it, this is fake. I am thinking what? And I look in, you know, it’s beautiful. I mean, the ink is, it’s right. I know it’s a real title. I hold five titles in my hand each day, she holds it up, no watermarks and again, like school of hard knocks for Kristin. In that sense, you know, I go back to the seller.
She didn’t know, you know, I didn’t know, I’ve seen so many, it had perforation marks in the bottom. So, you know, I said, Hey, you know, I asked her, Hey, you know, this is fake. She’s like, oh my gosh. You know, I don’t know. Then we filed for a lost title. We went through that process. It worked out. But yeah, definitely like, feel it, you know, it’s like $20 bill, you know, hold it up, make sure there’s a watermark, make sure it’s thicker. These are not going to be your regular printer paper. It’s going to be a little bit more heft to it. Another thing also don’t, if you’re writing on your title, you’re signing it, do not scratch anything out. The DMV will say leave. I think one time we signed and I think it was just a misspelling and I put a line through it, had to start the entire process over. Another thing I know we’ve gotten from one of our [37:04 inaudible] managing, we got our titles and I found one that was in a bath, because it was disintegrated. Thank goodness that title was a home that we demoed. But again, that would be another issue. Yeah, just don’t scratch it. Don’t do anything. Another good tip is when you get it, if you’re managing multiple mobile home, mobile home parks, always, we always put the lot number in the bottom left-hand corner. Oftentimes when you’re getting these titles, you’re not going to mail it or register it into the actual address as a mobile home, you’re going to put it in your office address. So again, you know, you’ll just put it in the bottom left-hand corner, but you know lot two. That’s not to say seeing the title at all, it’s just you labeling putting something on there for you to know internally. Also, you know, keep a list of all of your homes, keep an Excel file. You know, with your lot, your address, your VIN, you’re making your model just in case something happens in case you lose your title you know, it helps you when it comes tax time to make sure that you’ve paid your property taxes, so your mobile homes don’t end up on the tax sale. Yeah, so, you know, there’s all sorts of things. You know, again like this is what the mobile home park lawyer is here for, you know, contact us.
Ferd Niemann: You cannot pay me enough to do your mobile title issues. So I do not want any phone calls on that. You can hire me to do a lot of stuff and that is not one of them. It’s such a pain. I don’t need the money that bad.
Kristin Dreasler: Yeah, one last thing too. Ferd on these titles, when you get your title just check to make sure there’s no lien, there’s no bank lien placed on this. If there, you know, nowadays when you purchase something through a bank, they’ll hold the title, the physical title for you. You know, 20, 30 years ago that wasn’t the case. It would just have a lien stamped on the title. So when you get to, if you see something says, lien, make sure there’s a signature that says lien release there. You know, a couple of years ago now I had a home that I got at title line, They sold it to me and it said lien. So I had to find the original bank in Nebraska call them, send, you know, send all the information and it’s, you know, because you’re working with a bank and I’m not the person who, you know, it’s not my account. I had to fill out, you know, all the legal paperwork necessary. You know, and it worked out, they send me what I needed and I could transfer it. But you know, big thing here is just be vigilant. Don’t wait when you purchase a home, don’t be like other people, don’t make the mistakes I’ve made of waiting to get it transferred. Cause then, you know, we could sell the house in a month and all of a sudden I don’t have a title. So you know, the minute it’s in your hot hand, you need to go to work, the minutes in your hand, that’s number one on your list.
Ferd Niemann: Title stuff fast, the rest becomes a pain. One thing too, if there’s a bank lien, typically the bank is holding the physical title. The bank is smart. They’re going to perfect their lien, they are going to file at the UCC, the secretary state, and they’re going to have it in their desk. So when you buy those, [40:05 inaudible] get a photocopy from the person or just call the bank, get authorization, get it by returning and call for the payoff and pay the bank directly and have the title mailed you directly. That way, there’s less, when I say don’t trust and verify, I am paying the bank, the title is going to me, sign off. You know, I don’t want the title going to the person after I pay it off, just may sell it, run off again. So lots of things can go wrong with title. It’s just, be diligent, follow the process and be very diligence frankly. Alright Kristin thanks for sharing your wisdom. Till next time.
Kristin Dreasler: All right. Thanks for having me.
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