The Foreclosure Across the Street

foreclosuresignThe house across the street from me has been empty now for almost five months. The owner was the victim of both divorce and medical problems within a very short period of time.  Unable to maintain the payments on the home he decided to let it go.  The way he let it go, unfortunately for him, was probably not the best way to go about it. One day he was living in the house, and the next day he was gone.

They tried to sell the house both with and without a Realtor, they also took on several roommates for a short time. Neither of the methods allowed them to get caught up and continue to make their house payments.  I don’t know the particulars of their finances so I can’t say for sure they had to do it, but they did it and now I get to stare at a vacant house.

I don’t know that he bothered to tell the mortgage company what he was doing, and in the five months since he left they haven’t come by and put up any notices or anything else that would show you the house was now bank owned. Theoretically the he could have been living there rent free for the last 5 months. Living there without paying would have given him a way to build up some extra cash reserves or pay down on his medical bills and other obligations.  I am not really sure if there was any other way for him to get out from under the house, he really was in a bad way.

Not surprisingly he home was left unlocked and the owners left a lot of personal artifacts, toys and movies around the house.  I have heard tell of people taking things here or there that they might have wanted, like movies or light fixtures.  No one has gutted the house or anything, they are just taking what was left behind by the owners. The owners haven’t been back in 5 months, I know of at least one attempt to contact them to see if they wanted a neighbor to garage sale some of it for them, no response was received.

The abandonment of a house has problems for those around it. The eventual sale of the home is almost certain to decrease property value and with the onset of spring the yard isn’t being cut and general home maintenance isn’t occurring.  During one of the recent thunderstorms in our area a portion of the roof vent cap blew off which means rain was getting into the attic. One of my neighbors went ahead and reattached the vent cap and even mowed the yard, if for no other reason than to keep up appearances for the rest of the neighborhood. We live in the southeast and with the rain we have had lately a yard can turn into a jungle pretty quick.

The point of this lengthy diatribe is to ask the following questions:

1.) If you knew the house was abandoned and unlocked with things inside which could potentially be useful to you, would you take them or leave them? Is it ethical to take things that were “left behind.”

2.) Would you continue to maintain the exterior of the home for no compensation just to maintain the appearance of a lived in home?

Photo: (Respres)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Baker @ ManVsDebt April 21, 2009 at 11:01 am

I saw this all the time when I dealt with foreclosure real estate. Often times, it was the people the bank sent out to the property to take pictures and otherwise “secure” the property (change locks, etc…). They would take trucks and haul off refrigerators, washer/dryers, beds, and other household items. Obviously, the bank would just assume the homeowner had taken everything.

Ultimately, even if a little bit, these type of things cause the bank to get less out of the home, which hurts everyone (accept the people who took the items). When you are talking about a matter of personal trinkets, though it is a different story.

Taking care of the outside of the property directly increases the value of all the surrounding homes, so in a sense you are getting paid to do it. Or rather, you have some interest. I have heard of people doing this and then billing the bank. I specifically know people who have gotten paid this way!

Good luck in getting this turned around with minimal damage to your own home prices!

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2 Bible Money Matters April 21, 2009 at 2:07 pm

I wouldn’t take anything from the inside, but I think I might help take care of the outside, just because it does indirectly affect the value of my home. Plus, who wants to look at an overgrown unkempt lawn? Keeping up the neighborhood is in everyone’s best interest. I’ve lived in neighborhoods where no one cared – and it showed. I don’t want to live in a place like that again.

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3 Trevor @ Financial Nut April 21, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I wouldn’t touch anything. It’s not mine. If anything, it’s the bank or mortgage company that gave them the money. If it was one of these bad subprime deals, it might be some foreign investor’s property. Who knows?!

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4 The Weakonomist April 21, 2009 at 3:11 pm

My future mother in law mows the grass on some undeveloped proporty down the steer. It’s her was of cleaning up since we take the boxer down there to do his twosies.

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