As a first-time homebuyer, navigating the world of mortgages can be overwhelming. You’ve probably heard about traditional mortgages, but have you ever come across the term “chattel mortgage”? In this blog post, we will helpyou understand what a chattel mortgage is and explore the key differences between a chattel mortgage and a traditional mortgage. Understanding these distinctions can help you make informed decisions when it comes to financing your home.

What Is a Chattel Mortgage?

A chattel mortgage is a type of loan used primarily for purchasing movable property, such as mobile homes, RVs, or manufactured homes. It’s important to note that a chattel mortgage is not used to buy traditional, site-built houses. Instead, it’s tailored for homes that are not permanently affixed to land.

Differences Between Chattel Mortgages and Traditional Mortgages:

Type of Property:

Chattel Mortgage: Chattel mortgages are used for movable properties, which include manufactured homes, mobile homes, or recreational vehicles.

Traditional Mortgage: Traditional mortgages are designed for real property, including site-built homes, condos, and multi-unit residential properties.


Chattel Mortgage: In a chattel mortgage, the property itself serves as the collateral. Since movable homes can be transported, they are considered personal property, and the lender holds a lien on the home until the loan is paid off.

Traditional Mortgage: Traditional mortgages use the real property (land and dwelling) as collateral. In case of default, the lender can foreclose on the property, taking possession of it.

Legal Process:

Chattel Mortgage: The legal process for a chattel mortgage typically involves a security agreement between the buyer and the lender, detailing the terms of the loan and the rights of both parties.

Traditional Mortgage: Traditional mortgages involve legal processes, including deeds, titles, and recording with local authorities. They require a more extensive legal framework due to the nature of real property.

Interest Rates:

Chattel Mortgage: Interest rates for chattel mortgages tend to be higher compared to traditional mortgages. This is because movable homes are considered riskier collateral.

Traditional Mortgage: Traditional mortgage interest rates are typically lower since real estate is generally seen as a more stable and valuable asset.

Down Payment and Terms:

Chattel Mortgage: Down payment requirements and loan terms for chattel mortgages may vary depending on the lender and your credit score. They often have shorter repayment terms compared to traditional mortgages.

Traditional Mortgage: Traditional mortgages usually come with longer loan terms (e.g., 15 or 30 years) and may require a down payment, which can vary. It can be as little as 3% down to 5% down of the home’s purchase price.


As a first-time homebuyer, understanding the differences between chattel mortgages and traditional mortgages is crucial. Chattel mortgages are suitable for specific types of movable properties, while traditional mortgages are tailored for site-built homes. When deciding which type of mortgage is right for you, consider your long-term goals, the type of property you wish to purchase, and your financial situation.

Consulting with a mortgage broker or lender can provide you with valuable insights and help you make an informed decision that aligns with your homeownership aspirations. Ultimately, whether you choose a chattel mortgage or a traditional mortgage, careful research and thoughtful planning will be key to successfully achieving your homeownership dreams.