Gardner couple struggles to get title for manufactured home they bought 2 years ago

GARDNER, Kan. -- Anyone who owns a home knows how much labor, love and money it takes to maintain it. So imagine how you’d feel if you discovered you didn’t legally own your own home.

It happens all the time in the world of manufactured housing.

Virgil and Jessica Wright have a bill of sale proving they paid for their manufactured house two years ago, but they don’t have a title. Without a title, they can’t prove they're the true owners.

The Wrights said the former owners of the mobile home park where they live – Conestoga Estates – sold them the home after it was abandoned by a former resident.

“They gave us the bill of sale and said, 'We’ll get you a title,'" Jessica Wright told FOX4 Problem Solvers.

But the Wrights never got one.

Although it’s illegal to sell a manufactured house without a title, it’s not uncommon, said Jeff Warren of New Castle Homes in Harrisonville.

Warren said it can leave the new owner up a creek when it comes time to sell their home because reputable dealers like himself won’t consider buying a home without a title.

“It's not a way to do business,” Warren said -- even if the owner has a bill of sale.

“Anyone can make up a bill of sale. I'm sorry. That's the world we live in," he said.

So what do you do if you bought a home, but don’t have the title?

In Kansas, you can go to court and apply for a quiet title. That will cost you several hundred dollars. But even that option isn't a good one for the Wrights. That’s because they don’t know the VIN (or vehicle identification number) on their home.

Just like a car, manufactured homes have a VIN. You can’t get a title without a VIN.

So where can you find the VIN in a manufactured house?

Warren took Problem Solvers on a tour of one of his homes to show us.

“In this particular home, it's in the master bedroom closet,” said Warren, pointing to a data sheet on the wall that included the year the home was made, the manufacture, the serial number and the HUD number.

Those data sheets can be located in different places, depending on the home’s manufacture. Some are above the stove or under the kitchen sink.

Once you find that data sheet, hang on to it. Unfortunately, the data sheet for the Wrights' home had disappeared long before they bought it.

To help the Wrights, FOX4 Problem Solvers tracked down a former owner of their home from years earlier who still had paperwork listing the VIN. We gave that VIN to the Wrights.

But there’s more good news.

The former owners of Conestoga Estates, Tom and Gus Horner, have agreed to pick up all the costs of getting the Wrights a title. That solves a problem and gives the Wrights the peace of mind that the home they’ve owned for two years will soon be legally theirs.

Problem Solvers will check back in a few months to make sure the Wrights finally got their title.

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