Before a Foreclosure Sale, Should I take the Kitchen Cabinets, Fixtures, Doorknobs, etc.?

Real Estate Agent with Allison James Estates & Homes, Sarasota 941-957-3737


Countless homeowners facing foreclosure are under tremendous stress and need money.  When deciding to "Walk Away" from their homes, we see many of them realize that their dream of homeownership is about to end.  As a result, many homeowners see an opportunity to strip their houses of anything of value; taking built-in appliances, light fixtures, landscaping, etc. to sell for profit or take with them.   Many times, homeowners will leave the house with excessive junk and will even make efforts to destroy the house.  The question is:  Is this Morally Acceptable and Legal? 

In many cases, foreclosure of someone's home is a result of circumstances that are out of their control.   Looking out for one's personal interest may seem to have good merit, providing they are not hurting someone else.   However, they ARE hurting someone else, including themselves.  

For example, I was watching someone I know lose their home to foreclosure.  Before the bank took ownership of the house, the homeowner legally prolonged the foreclosure sale for as long as they possibly could to stay in the house as long as they could without paying.  Before the sale date, the homeowner "Stripped the House" of all the built-in appliances, kitchen cabinets, door knobs, and even removed some of the landscaping.    When the homeowner left the house, they ended up leaving an excessive amount of junk.  Then, they went on a mission to destroy the house.   They did this with their children, friends, and neighbors knowing and watching what they were doing.   Did they get away with it?  No they did not!   They demonstrated their character to the world and left a legacy to their children and the people around them that they were criminals, regardless of whether they went to jail or not.  

In some cases, we have heard of lenders prosecuting owners who "steal" from the property and destroy what becomes the lenders asset.  However, the most tragic aspect of this is that in many cases, it could have been prevented.  Foreclosure is not always the only option when facing Foreclosure.   Homeowners who are able to Short Sale their home before the home is foreclosed put themselves back on the road to "Financial Recovery"  and may be able to qualify to purchase another home within 2 years.  A Short Sale is also preferable to the lender because the homeowner continues to live in and maintain the property until the sale date instead of destroying or abandoning the property if it goes into foreclosure. 

If you are facing foreclosure, talk to a Short Sale Real Estate Specialist in your area to learn of your options for avoiding foreclosure.  For more information on Short Sales and the options to foreclosure, visit


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For more information on Short Sales in Sarasota and Foreclosures in Sarasota, please CONTACT USWe have over 25 years experience in real estate, and have been highly successful in negotiating short sales in Sarasota County & Manatee County, Florida.

Troy Funk, CDPE, SFR
Sarasota Certified Distressed Property Expert
Sarasota Short Sales & Foreclosures Resource
Florida Licensed Real Estate Agent

Allison James Estates & Homes
665 S. Orange Ave. #2
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 365-8769

WATCH this Sarasota Short Sale Testimonial Video


Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Ryan Case 09/27/2010 04:54 AM
  2. Linda Lipscomb 09/27/2010 04:59 PM
  3. Len Kobewka 09/28/2010 06:48 AM
  4. Gloria Soria 09/28/2010 03:26 PM
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blair ballin

Denise, that in my opinion is a really lame argument as then you are basically saying it's the borrower's fault. The lender should never have lent to them. They did and we are moving on.

Sep 28, 2010 09:48 AM #46
Jayson Holland - Denver, CO
Jay Holland


Wow, it didnt take long for someone(s) to throw out the victim card.

Let me get this right: it's not the borrowers fault that the borrower committed loan fraud and lied on a loan application, its the fault of the big bad bank for giving them the money? Of course its not the borrower's fault at all. I understand!

The borrower is just the "victim" of the big bad bank giving them money to buy a house that they never should have been allowed to buy.  And its the government's fault (too) for not supervising the banks closely enough, right? It is certainly not the borrowers fault. 

Oh I get it now.  

Furthermore, it must be all the big bad bank's fault that the borrower cannot make their payments that they said they could make, and that they promised they would make. That they signed document after document at closing stating that they would make. 

And now that they havent made a payment to the bank (in most cases) in over a YEAR, and they are finally being foreclosed on, it is perfectly ok for them to destroy the house to "teach the bank a lesson", since it is not the borrower's fault at all. Right?

Thanks for making that clear, I just didnt get it before now. 


Wow, what country are we living in right now? I want to move back to America.  




Sep 28, 2010 10:15 AM #47
Carrie Sampron
Home Smart Realty Group - Highlands Ranch, CO
ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R

About a year or so ago a local news channel did an "undercover" story responding to a Craigslist add advertising countertops, cabinets, etc.  The guy readily admitted he was going through a foreclosure and wanted to sell "his" stuff before it happened.  After the reporter called him on it and explained the bank owned everything attached to the home and he didn't, he was truly baffled.  I understand the majority of people understand what's going on, there are some very uninformed people in this world.  On the other hand I went and previewed a property where the people took everything and I mean everything.  They took the cabinets, the fireplace, and even used a hacksaw to remove the canned lights from the ceiling!  Carrie

Sep 28, 2010 11:39 AM #48
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Many people rationalize immorality, however, I don't think it's coincidental that the people who vandalize their homes are challenged by their circumstances. Most of them make futile choices in their journey of life regardless, and could care less about any consequences. Haven't you found that many distressed homeowners also have distressed properties that not only need major repairs and maintenance but are unreasonable and intolerable to deal with? Hopefully, it doesn't occur very often.

Sep 28, 2010 12:20 PM #49
One by one - stop the insanity

Jayson, haven't you been paying attention? This is America!

The land where 'Big Banks' and insurance companies not only control the economy but the government. Now that they can make unlimited campaign donations it will only become more American. Jayson, are't you aware the big banks betrayed you also? Knowledgeable real estate professionals relied on the checks and balances in the system to weed out weak buyers. Knowledgeable agents depended on the underwriting process to veryify income and calculate the ratios. Agents relied on the appraisal process to keep the values in balance. Real Estate professionals depended on an uncompromised system to protect the buyer while agents look after the best interestes of the home owner. Real Estate agents were betrayed by the big banks also. Oh, and don't forget that many agents were knowing conspirators in the betrayal. Perhaps it is this recognition that triggers such an emotional defense of the forces of evil. 

Yes, Jayson, it is the banks decision to negotiate with the homeowner or pursue foreclosure. They, by their action and repeated bad faith negotions, have revealed they prefer kicking children from their homes, threatening parents with a lifetime of financial distress regardless of the citizen choices and it is the big banks that now have a army of drooling real estate agents willing to be pimped for the profit of the bank. Yes, you too have been betrayed by the big banks.

The victim card? You bet. When a citizen is left with no options, when the bank has defieantly refused to negotiate in good faith, when the owner is facing the loss of their improvements to the home, this victim should leave Bank of America with noting of value. The harvested home should be torn down to make room for the next one to be built. A smaller, less opulent, more efficeint model.

Yep, that's change I can live with. Meanwhile, I can only guess you would want to stay the course. Continue panting for REO scraps, subsequent degradation of the service agents provide, further decline in the effeciency of a real estate system now dominated by the big banks who immediately ignore the purchase offer your buyer presents and replaces it with their addendums that strip the buyer of all protection. And you defend them, the big banks, when they repeatedly rub the citizens nose in the fact they can do whatever they please and NOBODY can touch them. Well, one desperate displaced homeowner at a time can make a statement, "Bank of America, negotiate in good faith or inherit the ghost of what once was.?

Sep 28, 2010 12:52 PM #50
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I can understand if a person put in an expensive fixture after purchase and wanted to take it when they left, leaving the house as in good as condition as possible.  However, most of what goes on is criminal.

Sep 28, 2010 01:09 PM #51
Jirius Isaac
Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage - Kenmore, WA
Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA

I can understand home owners being upset that they have lost their home.  But, to take stuff out for the little bit of the money they can sell stuff for, or to actually damage the house intentionally is just plain wrong.  Unfortunately they rarely reap any consequences for these actions.

Sep 28, 2010 04:50 PM #52
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

I was dealing with REO properties long before the current situation began, so I realize the people who were losing their homes then were different than many who are losing them today.

What always struck me about those houses was the filth. Many times I cringed at touching the door knobs. Then the stuff they left behind - always piles and piles of clothes. Dishes, toys, chairs, etc. were usually left behind as well.

I aways thought "If this is how they take care of their belongings, no wonder they lost the house."

We didn't see too much vandalism then, but there was one house... We thought the owners had moved out of state because they brought the keys in to our office, saying that they knew someone would need them eventually.

One of our agents did go to the house to have a look before it came on the market, but then when I got the call from Fannie Mae and went to look for myself, the damage had been done.

We never found out if it was them or someone else who gutted the house and then threw rocks down the well, but the story got worse from there. When we hired a driller to put in a new well we showed him where to drive, but he chose a different route and the drilling rig fell through the septic tank lid.

Sep 28, 2010 06:49 PM #53
Jamie King
Hoty Enterprises, Inc. - Huron, OH
Sandusky, OH

Appreciate your article! I've sold many bank owned properties and I'm now in the process of listing one for the first time. Amazing what people will do to a house! Removed appliances and door knobs as you said, but also the covers for the heating ducts, the cabinet pulls, the bathroom sink and toilet, but left beds, new items still in packages, tools, about 15 bundles of new shingles. There was probably more value in what they left behind than what they took. The sad thing is they've devalued the house by so much it effects the entire neighborhood. When this trashed home sells it becomes a comparable for anyone else in the neighborhhod that wants to sell.

They act as though it's the bank's fault they didn't make their mortgage payment! Although, I understand there are circustances when the homeowner falls on hard times at no fault of their own and my heart goes out to them. However, many times it's the homeowner's own fault by living beyond their means. Those homes are the ones where the homeowner leaves more clothes behind than your own family of 5 has combined. The homes that are dirty, smelly, and evident of irresponsible homeowners. It's hard to sympathize.

Sep 29, 2010 01:59 AM #54
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

I know you watched this particular family do this, but one thing I discovered - it's not always the departing family. Often, the crew that comes in to clean and winterize the house helps themselves to swamp coolers (leaving large holes in the roof), electronic thermostats, built-in wall speakers, etc. The listing agent has never seen the house, the new owner has never seen the house, no one is in a position to know what was stolen or even to care. The value of the house is lowered, affecting neighborhood sales. The neighbors are the ones who suffer.

Sep 29, 2010 03:18 AM #55
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty

I can understand why some people sell the appliances in the home if they are struggling financially but destroying the home is so wrong.

Oct 01, 2010 02:28 PM #56
Beth Ruggeri
Watson Realty - Saint Augustine, FL

I have shown numerous homes with microwaves ripped from the walls, even plumbing fixtures, doors, light fixtures removed. also I have seen Ac units stolen from the homes. It saddens me that the former owners or others have resorted to these measures.

Oct 03, 2010 09:26 AM #57
c m
Colorado Springs, CO

This turned out to be a pretty interesting post, comments included.  I know of people who bought a second home before the writing was CLEARLY visible on the wall, that they would be foreclosed on...good people, who made poor choices, but I can also see that they were backed into a corner, paying far too much for a house that had near half it's value stripped away...I know that I could not make the choice they made, and that I will suffer the consequences when it is time to sell my own house, (it has BARELY creeped back to what we paid, though we have essentially remodeled the entire house.) If we can walk away without owing, we will be happy...I think we can do THAT...we are lucky!

Oct 03, 2010 05:18 PM #58

Boy , some of you are full of yourselves, arent you?  Seems as though most are realtors that (not all)had a large part in this crisis, by banding together and falsly inflating the market !  Myself being one of those caught in the middle, as my house after only 4 years is worth a third of what I paid for it!..taxes , insurance and utilities have gone up and neighborhoods are being swooped upon , AGAIN, by those taking advantage of a sad situation.  Save your shame shame attitude for someone else. 

My loan is not a really bad one , however, my financial situation has changed and have been trying to work with my mortgage company.  I have always been current, however this does not seem to matter to them.  I can NEVER speak with someone in the is always India and never never get to speak with the same person twice!!!  I have tried and tried and tried and am growing weary and am about to give up and lose everything I have worked for all my this house was to be my retirement !!  Kinda screws things up since it is worth nothing and I am now 51.  I have been ignored, I have paid my dues into this house and have done improvements and you can bet your behind I am taking whatever I can out of here should I decide to throw up my hands in defeat.  BUT, I will not destroy or trash the house.  That is wrong and surely the conditions were poor as that kind  of mentality just doesnt pop into your head one day.  Does anyone know of brokers that buy & pickup home contents?

Nov 16, 2010 09:21 AM #59
I have read alot of these comments, and i to have been thru the forclosre proccess. These agents i see have seen it, and heard it but havent lived it. I tried the short sale for months the bank turned down offers for what ? I dont know. The bak wants money and only money even after trining for years literally two years to come to a conclusion. With the end result my house going to sheriff sale. Is it right to destroy a house no, but is it right to put someones dream and play games with it. You people just think if you bought something cabinents $10,000. 2 years ago. unfortunaly you have a hardship. Can you justify not working with the onwner to save the house or even sale the house but the back would rather put the house on the market for just a little more than you paid for some new cabinets.
May 07, 2011 01:39 AM #60
VICTIM of foreclosure

If you leave the back door unlocked perhaps a bugler did it after you left (of course you took pictures of the condition you left it in). Happens all the time. Darn thieves are just waiting for foreclosures to be vacant. I bet it would happen to our house. I have been meaning to get that back door fixed.

Sep 12, 2012 10:05 AM #61

I'm confused by this home is going into forclosure sale at the end of this month.  I just recieved notice from B of A, after almost a year of being in modification process, which still hasn't closed.  I know I owe the bank the money; but I became very ill two years ago, and medical bills wiped me out.   I'm employed again, and ready to start paying back the amount owed, but they've decided it isn't profitable for the lender at this time.  Knowing this, I'm chooseing to pack up my things, and be prepared before the forclosure sale.  Is this post saying it is morally wrong for me to take the things I've put in my home, such as my energy efficient refridgerator, light fixtures and water efficent dishwasher; which would serve purpose to me in my next place of residence?  I've made many improvements on this home over the past 10 years I've been here, and I don't understand why someone would consider it morally reprehensible that I take items with me, when they were things that were not included in the home when B of A [then Countrywide] approved the loan 10 years ago.  Then again, it's not like I'm planning on ripping out the carpets and cabnetry [although improvements to the home I've made, they would serve me no purpose in my next home].  Besides, isn't the home yours until the forclosure sale?  I mean, if a homeowner drove their car through their garage door and it wasn't going to forclosure, we'd not assume that was morally reprehensible, we'd assume the person needed some type of psychological help...I think the realtors that posted this need to get off their high horse, and stop being vultures that are only thinking about expanding their commission checks on the backs of people losing their homes.

Nov 26, 2012 02:01 AM #62
Blair Ballin

Emerald, items that are being paid through your mortgage and according to state law need to stay in the home. It doesn't really have anything to do with morals-that's your written agreement. You might be the homeowner but again, according to your state law the trustee could also have rights. 

While there may be some as you call vultures out there, you are assuming all Realtors in this post are which is an incorrect generalization. Many of us assist people in accomplishing their goals, and advising them of what could and does happen. I guess then anyone that helps anyone is a vulture.

Nov 26, 2012 10:42 AM #63

I can see not destroying things and I have some real wonders: pouring cement down toilets and ripping out pipes and pouring tuna into carpets, smashing windows....awful!!!! But I do not understand taking door knobs or light fixtures or appliances, built in or otherwise is bad...they can be replaced easily.

Jun 19, 2014 09:14 AM #64

What if all the appliances were not in the home when purchased? My house is being for closed on, I have since taken the rolling island, microwave, stove, refrigerator & dish washer out of the house, those werequirements no in the home when purchased... would that be considered illegal even tho they were bought & hooks up mths after living there...

Mar 11, 2017 04:13 PM #65
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