Signs of The Times
Every so often I buy a house in foreclosure, fix it up, and sell it. It’s a hobby. There have always been foreclosures — there are just more of them right now. Today, these transactions are being complicated by the usual suspects — banks. Hard to believe, I know. Banks, to avoid litigation, are offering a “cash for keys” deal. The bank will give $500 or $N to the distressed owner of a home as consideration for a deed in lieu of foreclosure. This make sense, in that the bank can avoid legal challenges and foreclosure fees. But since the banks literally take months to assume and sell a property — a new problem erupts. When I went to inspect a home I bought recently — there was someone living in my house! And they looked quite comfortable. When I showed them the deed, I was met with a shrug. They had “permission” to be in the house. I offered them $500 to relocate, but that offer didn’t work — and then it got ugly. Two weeks, several court appearances, and six notices later the Sheriff came to physically evict them.
It seems my problem is not unique. The owner gets cash for keys deal, and then rents the house to someone else for additional cash. The owner doesn’t care and the tenant doesn’t care — until they get tossed out. I’m told most of these squatters know exactly what they are doing, and simply move to another vacant property when threatened. Some of the squatters have MLS keys and can easily occupy any home that is vacant while listed for sale or in foreclosure. They know they will generally have several months of free living.
I am going to press the bank on this one — as the property was not delivered as described. We’ll see what happens.
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