When Does a Manufactured Home Legally Become Real Estate?

People say home is where the heart is. But that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to the legal definition of real estate, particularly when it pertains to a manufactured home.

According to a recent ruling by the Ohio Seventh District Court of Appeals, a manufactured home is converted to real estate based upon its annexation to the ground, not by surrendering the certificate of title as the court determined on March 20 in The Bank of New York Mellon v Ferrari.  In affirming the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of The Bank of New York Mellon, the appellate court stated:

{¶ 17} Here, the 2002 appraisal of the property demonstrates that the manufactured home was attached to a well and septic system, has a concrete block foundation and states expressly that “[t]he subject property is permanently affixed to the ground.” In addition, Ferrari admitted that the manufactured home had not been moved since the 2002 refinancing. Finally, the manufactured home was appraised as part of the real estate in 2002, permitting Ferrari to obtain the loan, and evidence of her intent to treat the manufactured home as a fixture.


{¶ 19} Nonetheless, Ferrari asserts that her failure to surrender the manufactured home's certificate of title to the Columbiana County Clerk of Courts somehow renders the mortgage on the manufactured home invalid. Ferrari did produce a certificate of title for the manufactured home, showing the price as $44,628.00 and noting “lien cancelled” as of November 21, 2002. However, “failure to surrender a certificate of title of a manufactured home to a county clerk is not a necessary prerequisite to a valid fixture being created in a mobile home.” Rickett v. Ohio Real Estate Adviser Bd., 10th Dist. No. 07AP–667, 2008–Ohio–3169, ¶ 33. This is because there is a distinction between classification for tax purposes, see R.C. 5701.02, and the common law fixture analysis. See also 1993 Ohio Atty.Gen.Ops. No 385 (“the surrender of the title is the result of the transformation of the manufactured home to real property status and not * * * the cause of the transformation.”)

This decision, while instructive and correctly ignoring the decision in Wallingford v. Green Tree Servicing, LLC, 2012 WL 3779954 (S.D. Ohio 2012), does not negate the fact that title companies should ensure that the certificate of title to a manufactured home is surrendered to the clerk of courts and/or auditor in closing real estate transactions.

Title 45 of the Revised Code provides statutory procedures for legally converting or affixing a mobile home to real estate and thereby subjecting it to taxation along with the underlying realty and, depending on the level of cooperation of the certificate-holder and/or lienholder, may require a declaratory judgment action.

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The Ridges Luxury Homes
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