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If a Home if foreclosed and Former Homeowners Break In to Get Belongings...

Real Estate Broker/Owner with WHISTLE STOP REALTY LLC

I do a lot of foreclosures, but this is a first for me. Need advice on how to handle a situation where I have been asked to put a foreclosure on the market. The lender had the preservation company do the initial lock change, winterization, photos, etc. The property appeared vacant, and locks were changed. Former homeowners claim they were in the process of moving out and came back one day and found the rest of their belongings gone. The property preservation company states they removed nothing and homeowners claim there were personal belongings left at the property. The former owners broke open the doors to gain access to get personal belongings they claim were there. They even called Police and filed a report to report the theft. This is a first for me as most lenders I work with have the Listing Agent do the entire process from occupancy check, CFK, and once vacated, I usually arrange trashout, lock changes, winterization, etc. and I follow a procedure of photographing and inventorying belongings, putting them in storage and notifying the former homeowners as required. Since I was not involved in the property preservation portion on this one, just wondering how other agents have handled this situation where it is word against word.

Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

Welcome to THE DARK SIDE of property management.  I ALWAYS take pictures of the property after tenant move-out IF there are items left and I am having them discarded and the bank's pictures should prove there were no items left at the property.

Feb 08, 2011 12:00 AM
William J. Archambault, Jr.
The Real Estate Investment Institute - Houston, TX


"how other agents have handled this situation" 

What situation? Your not a cop! Report the break in to your fiduciary, ask if they want you to have any repairs made and if they want you to report it to the police. Just like you'd do if you found any listing broken in too!


Feb 08, 2011 12:04 AM
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

I'd say this is between the preservation company and the former owners not you.   Since a house usually doesn't go on the market the day after a foreclosure proceeding how long had it been empty?  It seems to me the former owners may be guilty of breaking and entering for accessing the property and that is the report the police should be taking.  Is there more to the story?

Feb 08, 2011 12:05 AM
Whistle Stop Realty LLC
Commercial/Residential Brokerage

Thanks Cindy, that is my belief that this is between the preservation co. and former owners. The homeowner called the preservation co. immediately. The damage can be repaired by the Sellers, however, my concern is that I have angry former homeowners who are asking me to help them get their "belongings" back which I can't do, but more importantly I am concerned with the house being trashed further, which is where it would affect my ability to sell it. They are also contacting legal counsel. House was empty, but secured for a few days after the foreclosure. The photos from preservation co. do show some furniture which each side says they did not remove. A trashed listing is very hard to sell, believe me, I have had to list a few of them.

Feb 08, 2011 12:21 AM