Legal Descriptions

  • We need to know what is being sold and what isn’t being sold 
  • The goal of title insurance is to ensure the transaction occurs as contemplated (to the extent it can), and to insure against mistakes and bad actors. There are two ways to do this: Metes & Bounds and Platted Lots. 

Platted Lots

  • A plat is a recorded survey; a survey is a visual depiction of the land. 
  • To be recorded, the plat must be approved by the planning commission. Surveys can be recorded also, but we generally require a supplemental metes and bounds description. 
  • Like other instruments, plats are recorded in the land records. 

Metes and Bounds

  • Metes and bounds is a written description of the land area using directional references and cross referencing landmarks.
  • Point of Beginning 
  • “Beginning” shall mean a well-defined, readily located and permanent point or monument which is both the starting point and final point for a metes and bounds description. 
  • A metes and bounds description shall include the general location of the tract or lot with sufficient accuracy so that the tract can be readily located from some previously established monument, corner of record, etc., and can be readily described.  

Mobile Homes

  • A mobile home that is personal property and treated similar to an automobile because it is easily moved until it is affixed to real property. 
  • Why are mobile homes important to title insurance? Mobile homes are a common type of home placed upon real property that may or may not be affixed to the property. When there is a transfer of real property, and the mobile home is to be included, title agents must make sure the mobile home has been reclassified from personal property to a fixture on the real property. 
  • How is a mobile home transferred and a loan obtained to purchase it if it is not affixed to property? Mobile homes are personal property governed by state agencies that govern automobiles. They also have Certificates of Title where a lienholder may be listed as having a lien against the mobile home similar to that of an automobile. 
  • How does a mobile home legally become affixed to real property? There are generally two methods governed by state law: (1) an Affidavit of Affixation (or other similar name) =; or (2) a separate process through the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles involving a termination of the mobile home’s motor vehicle certificate of title which typically requires the lien to purchase the mobile home to be paid off. 
  • Tips: As an initial step, real property tax records can be reviewed to determine whether a mobile home is affixed to the land. If the real property tax records show the mobile home as being taxed as part of the real property, there should be some record of termination of the mobile home’s motor vehicle certificate of title at the BMV or in the Recorder’s Office. If there is no indication from the real property tax records that there is a mobile home on the parcel; it is not being taxed as real property and is still probably registered at the BMV as a motor vehicle. 
  • In the event the mobile home is in fact affixed to the land, is being taxed as part of the real property, and its motor vehicle certificate of title has been terminated by the BMV, the mobile home would then typically be an insurable part of the real property on which it rests. Note that a UCC lien search (county and state) should be conducted to ensure that there were not any liens encumbering the mobile home’s motor vehicle certificate of title.
  • How does a mobile home physically become affixed to real property? This is dependent upon how a state determines if something is a fixture. To ensure a transaction where the mobile home is part of the transfer or new encumbrance, an inspector must confirm affixture to the ground which is generally the removal of the wheels and hitch and the structure being placed on some type of foundation. Whether the mobile home is connected to public utilities may also be a factor in affixation. In addition, the public tax records must reflect that it is taxed as real property.