Assessing Manufactured Homes

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Assessor

John Tuteur Assessor

 

Assessing Manufactured Homes


Manufactured homes used to be called mobile homes which were usually smaller and relocated more frequently than recent models. Almost all manufactured homes in Napa County are located in specially designed parks where a space is rented from the park owner who owns the land and the park’s streets, clubhouse and other amenities.

Until July, 1980 the assessment of manufactured homes for property tax purposes was the responsibility of the State of California through the Department of Motor Vehicles. A value was assigned based on the purchase price and an “in-lieu of property” tax was collected with the annual registration fee. As the home aged, the value declined and the tax portion of the registration fee became less. The same process is still used today with cars and trucks. Homes placed in parks before July, 1980 still are assessed and taxed this way as long as the registration fee is kept current. However, California’s 58 County Assessors have assessment responsibility for manufactured homes placed in parks after 1980. Post-1980 manufactured homes receive a Proposition 13 base year value and supplemental assessments. Instead of paying their in-lieu taxes with their registration fees, owners of manufactured homes built or relocated after 1980 receive a separate property tax bill from the County Tax Collector, payable in two installments.

Conventional homeowners own the land under their homes; manufactured homeowners in parks do not. Two identical conventional homes purchased at the same time but located in different areas will command very different purchase prices because of the value of the land based on its location. Two identical manufactured homes may sell for different amounts based on the location and quality of the park they are in. However, both manufactured homes should be valued the same without regard to their location. The value of the land on which the park is built is assessed to the park owner and reflects the location and quality of the park. To insure equal treatment of comparable manufactured homes, our certified appraisers rely on cost tables prepared by the State Board of Equalization that value the manufactured home only. As a further check, the appraiser will use a value guide (like a blue book) which gives adjusted figures for sales of new and used manufactured homes throughout California.

Because manufactured homes in parks are not permanently affixed to the land, the second difference from conventional homes is that they are treated as personal property, not real property. Even though the purchase of a manufactured home is often handled through a title company, deeds are not recorded to transfer title. Title to manufactured homes is transferred through the Department of Housing and Community Development, an agency of the State of California, in much the same way that title to automobiles is transferred through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Loans for manufactured homes are also handled differently than mortgages on conventional housing. If someone does not make the payments on a manufactured home, the process is more like repossessing a car than foreclosing on a mortgage. If the taxes on a manufactured home go delinquent, the tax collector uses unsecured collection methods instead of the five-year defaulted tax auction used for real property.

Should you have any questions please contact Napa County Assessor John Tuteur at (707) 253-4459 or by e-mail john.tuteur@countyofnapa.org.