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The Legal Blog, brought to you by NVAR's Professional Standards department, helps you stay on top of the latest rules and regulations in the industry.

Under what circumstances is a manufactured [mobile] home a “vehicle” versus “real estate?” When may it be listed for sale or lease in the MLS?

Aug 30, 2016

Agency

Question: Under what circumstances is a manufactured [mobile] home a “vehicle” versus “real estate?” When may it be listed for sale or lease in the MLS?

Answer: If a manufactured [mobile] home has wheels and/or other equipment used for mobility, it is considered to be a vehicle, and therefore personal property, and should accordingly be titled through the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. A Virginia real estate license does not authorize the licensee to assist clients in buying/selling/leasing manufactured [mobile] homes as personal property.

A manufactured [mobile] home is considered to be real estate if: (i) its wheels and/or other equipment used for mobility have been removed; (ii) it has been attached to real estate; and (iii) the vehicle title has been cancelled via surrender to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. See DMV Guidelines: dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/citizen/vehicles/mobile.asp. Pursuant to Virginia Code §46.2-653, once the manufactured [mobile] home has been converted to real estate, then it can only be sold as real estate is sold. As Virginia real estate agents are licensed to assist clients in buying/selling/leasing real estate, they are therefore able to assist clients with buying/selling/leasing manufactured [mobile] homes that have effectively been converted from personal property to real property.

In addition to determining whether the structure is a vehicle or real estate, it is also important for the agent to determine if the underlying land is owned by the owner of the manufactured [mobile] home, or if it is leased from the landowner. If the owner of a manufactured [mobile] home which has been effectively converted to real estate also owns the underlying land, then that owner may list the land and improvements for lease/sale just as they would any other improved real estate. If the owner of a manufactured [mobile] home which has been effectively converted to real estate does not own the underlying land, then that owner only has the right to sell the structure, and would only be able to negotiate a transfer of the lease of the underlying land as allowed by the home owner’s specific lease agreement.

Accordingly, if a manufactured [mobile] home is a vehicle with wheels and/or other equipment used for mobility intact, it may be transferred only as a vehicle, which is personal property, and which may not be listed for sale/lease through the MLS. If a manufactured [mobile] home has been effectively converted to real property, it may be listed for sale/lease through the MLS. Note that the listing agent will need to be clear in the listing whether the underlying land is included in the sale/lease.

Editor’s Note: This information was provided with input from NVAR’s Attorney Roundtable, a group of NVAR attorney members who meet bimonthly to discuss legal issues that affect Realtors®. For more information, contact NVAR General Counsel, Sarah Louppe Petcher at spetcher@nvar.com.
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