I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: Dangers of paying cash for mobile homes

Published: Oct. 22, 2018 at 6:40 PM EDT
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Monday, October 22, 2018

(News 12 at 6 O’Clock / NBC 26 at 7)

(WRDW/WAGT) – They say that when one door closes, another opens. But Debra Parkerson couldn’t even open the door to her home a month ago as it laid on her living room floor.

Her story may end happy, but it didn’t start out that way. News 12’s Call for Action volunteers received a call months ago. A desperate woman was on the other line, and it prompted our volunteers to hit the ground running to help.

“The sinks weren’t hooked up to the pipes. There was no electricity in the back half,” Debra told us when we paid a visit.

The biggest problem, though, is what we didn’t see.

Liz Owens: “Where is the title at?”

Debra: “I don’t have a clue.”

There’s no title to be found, even though she paid cash for the home. That means there’s no proof the home belongs to her, and the seller won’t return her calls.

Liz: “Are you worried this home may have a lien on it?”

Debra: “I am. I am.”

Creditors can put liens on mobile homes, which is why banks require a title search before a buyer can take out a loan on one. But, again, she paid cash.

Liz: "Did you do a title search?"

Debra: "I am new to all of this. I've never bought a home before."

The cash she used?

"My husband took care of everything. I never had to worry about it or take care of it on my own."

It came from her husband's settlement from getting cancer at work.

"That's all he wanted. To live long enough to see me and that boy in a new home, and he didn't make it," Debra told us of her late husband’s dream for his family.

Liz: "Do you feel like you have been taken advantage of?"

Debra: "I do because they knew I had just lost my husband. They knew I was wanting to buy a home and that I was going to pay cash for it. Yeah they got me. They got me good."

It's a good thing she called our volunteers. We now fast forward to the end of Debra’s story – that happy ending we told you about.

Parkerson opens the newly attached screen door for us and shows us the repairs, and finally, her home’s title.

"Thank you so much. I am not worried about it having a lien on it anymore."

The seller gave the title to her after our Call for Action volunteers called him.

"I wasn't getting anywhere, and the only way he's done anything is when you've called, or one of your people called him."

Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to change the ending of a story.

Again, Debra's home did


have a lien on it, but if it did she would not have been able to get the title. This happens more than you think. We found several cases of sellers getting in trouble for not disclosing liens to buyers.

If you pay cash, make sure you spend the extra to have a title search before forking over tens of thousands of dollars.

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