Facing Foreclosure Some Owners Trash The House Before Leaving

The Wall Street Journal says that about half of foreclosed homes nationwide have “substantial” damage ,much of it inflicted by bitter former homeowners who tried their best to destroy the property before being forced to leave.

The stucco subdivisions of Las Vegas are caught up in the nation’s foreclosure crisis. These days, bankers and mortgage companies often find that by the time they get the keys back, embittered homeowners have stripped out appliances, punched holes in walls, dumped paint on carpets and, as a parting gift, locked their pets inside to wreak further havoc. Real-estate agents estimate that about half of foreclosed properties to be sold by mortgage companies nationwide have “substantial” damage, according to a new survey by Campbell Communications, a marketing and research firm based in Washington, D.C.

The most practical way to ensure the houses are returned in decent shape, lenders and their agents say, is to pay homeowners hundreds or even thousands of dollars to put their anger in escrow and leave quietly. A ransom? A bribe? “Yeah, somewhat,” says John Carver, an agent specializing in foreclosed homes for Prudential Americana Group in Las Vegas. But “you lose a house, and then you get some financial help — it’s a good thing…It’s a win-win for both parties.”

The stories of financially ruined homeowners being paid to leave quiety are heartbreaking and mind-boggling at the same time. Here’s one:

Late last month, Mr. Carver left a letter on the door of a house with a red-tiled roof in Henderson, abutting Las Vegas. “I may be able to offer you cash to vacate the property,” the note said.

The owner, a 43-year-old man with two children who spoke on the condition that his name not be used, says he bought the property in 1993 for $140,000. Three years ago, he says he had the house appraised for $440,000 and took out a $207,000 home-equity loan to pay off credit-card bills and buy his wife a new van. His initial payments were an affordable $1,800 a month.

He fell behind, however, after he went through a divorce and his landscaping business faltered, just as his interest rate was rising. The man worked out a payment plan with the bank and borrowed heavily from his father, but, including penalties, his monthly payments rose to $4,000, he says. After two months, he says, he ran out of money, and the bank foreclosed.

He called Mr. Carver after receiving the cash-for-keys note, but was left cold by the bank’s initial $500 offer to leave the house soon, intact and broom-swept. “If I stay here it will cost them a lot more money,” both men remember the former owner saying.

The man says he was just pointing out that eviction is expensive for the bank and says he had no intention of damaging the house. But he had “pushed the right buttons” for Mr. Carver. “He didn’t actually come out and threaten the property in any way,” Mr. Carver says. “But I assumed that he probably wouldn’t be too happy if he got evicted and locked out.”

Mr. Carver consulted with the bank and upped the offer to $2,800.

“Better than nothing,” the owner responded.

Last week, Mr. Carver went to the house, found it clean and whole, and handed the man a check. “Everybody walks away somewhat happy,” Mr. Carver said. “I guess.”

Buyers’ Revenge: Trash the House After Foreclosure [Wall Street Journal]
(Photo:gruntzooki)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Buran says:

    Why should anyone receive money to not do something they shouldn’t do in the first place? That’s disgusting. If you do something like that, you should be arrested for property damage of property you don’t own (bank property) and forced to pay the consequences.

  2. B says:

    $207,000 either buys one hell of a van, or pays of a LOT of credit card debt.

  3. Wormfather says:

    I still blame the victims for this, actually, I blame everyone.

    READ THE DAMNED CONTRACT!

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go open a few retail credit cards…oooooh 12 months no interest, I can pay that off in at least 18 months, how bad could the interest be?

  4. olderbudwizer says:

    I read about one such trashing – where the owner, or ‘someone’ locked 4 grown hogs inside the house.

  5. qwickone says:

    @Buran: i like that idea!

  6. Tux the Penguin says:

    So, lets see. You owe the bank a bunch of money that you cannot pay. The way the bank is going to “forgive” that is by selling the house for what they can get. But, you decide to “trash” the house to punish the bank.

    No, what you really did is devalue the house and the bank is going to need to spend cash to get it into a sellable condition, something that they’ll offset the proceeds of the house against. Yeah, really smart.

    Personally, if someone does this to a house that is being foreclosed on, they should be charged with vandalism or worse. And we wonder why these Americans were in these situations in the first place – they’ve been acting like children.

  7. ClayS says:

    @Wormfather:
    I blame both the victims and the lenders, who enabled irresponsible mortgages.

  8. loganmo says:

    people are dumb.

  9. Lewis says:

    Um ok. So you’re getting foreclosed, which sucks. This is not the posting in which to debate whose fault that is. But when you trash the place before you leave, all you’re doing is further reducing the value at which the mortgage holder will be able to auction/sell the property. Therefore increasing the deficiency balance you will owe the bank. Therefore decreasing your chances of being able to crawl out of this financial hole.

    Scary times.

  10. qwickone says:

    I’m confused, wouldn’t people want the highest sale value after foreclosure? If the house sells for less than what you owe, don’t you still owe the difference?

  11. coan_net says:

    To me, those owners are stupid… just burning bridges that some day they might need again.

    They were stupid in the first place to take out the loan. (I bought a house about 2 years ago – and I was smart enough to take a fixed rate at a slightly higher rate since I knew I could afford it and should always be able to afford it.)

    If the owners took a risk and lost, why are they mad? They could not stick with the terms they signed up for so they trash the house?

    Stupid owners.

  12. Nate425 says:

    Huh? Another person got in trouble for living beyond their means? Crazy!

  13. satoru says:

    To me this kind of attitude just solidifies the notion that these people were petty and stupid to begin with. Don’t expect me to feel sorry for you because you’re an idiot.

  14. Wormfather says:

    In fact I’m going to go start a new Gawker Media Website called the…the…the…The Entrepreneurist. It’ll mirror The Consermist site except explain how stupid things happen to stupid people when they make stupid decisions.

    Upcomming features:

    Taking it seriously, nope, “I’m outraged”

    10 Confessions of a person who falls for anything a salesperson says

    And of course The Worst Type of Customer in America Competition.

    Unfortunatly, no one will ever visit my site because I cant even spell “Entrepreneurist” without looking it up.

    In other words, I love what you do guys, but this sub-prime thing makes me feel nothing but anger at everyone involved.

  15. ottawa_guy says:

    It’s really a lose-lose situation when the house gets trashed. The bank can file charges on the mortgager, but that will take years in court and it will still cost the bank thousands of dollars to repair the house.

    I work in the flooring industry, and yes I do see a lot of pet stains on new floors. The customer does not like having a black spot in the middle of a floor, and sanding the floor multiple times ain’t going to do it. So you have to rip it out completely, buy new wood and reinstall….your looking at a good $8-10 a sq ft to do that. So lets say they did that in the family room and it’s 500 sq ft….thats 5 grand just to replace a floor, never mind anything else that happened.

    Instead of taking a 20k loss on damage done to a house, they would rather limit their loss to, in this case, $2800.00. Sounds like a preventative cost to me….

    If I was the bank, I would do the same thing.

  16. starrion says:

    @Buran:

    I understand the law and order approach, but if these people have exhausted their finances paying out interest and penalties, Exactly what is the bank going to get back?

  17. chicagocooper says:

    I don’t understand why people feel bad for others that have been foreclosed on. These people made a really bad decision to overextend themselves. It is not the banks job to let them off the hook or the governments job to save a bank that goes broke passing bad loans.

    People/companies will never lean if they are bailed out of their own bad decisions.

  18. satoru says:

    @coan_net: I wonder if the banks bother to make a note in their credit reports that they trashed the home? That could really come to bite them in the ass if they somehow got off their asses, started to think, and by some miracle got their act back together. I know the actual delinquency will stick around for 6-7 years, but are any note or comments permanent?

  19. milqtost says:

    I’ve never understood this either but it takes all kinds. I’ve heard of people trashing the place (cause it’s obvious that it’s the BANK’S fault that they took a loan on something they couldn’t afford). I’ve also heard of people that were embarrassed they couldn’t live up to their obligations and leave promptly with the property in good condition.

    The worst I’ve heard (aside from locking their pets inside, that is wrong on way too many levels) was people pouring cement down the drains and turning the water on so it would harden in the pipes. The best I’ve heard was people leaving the house in pristine condition with an apology note left behind.

    Either way, a great time to buy as long as your understand what you are getting.

  20. unklegwar says:

    @Buran: If you trash it before the ownership officially changes to the bank, then there’s nothing they can do.

  21. rpm773 says:

    I guess Mr Carver (from the article above) didn’t get his wife a nice-enough van.

  22. mduser says:

    I was visiting my parents in Phoenix last week, and the foreclosure signs are starting to pop up all over the place.

    I’d be afraid to see how badly those houses could be trashed, and made dangerous to set foot in (a few rattlesnakes or scorpions anyone?).

  23. If you will lock pets in a house to trash it, you’re sick. That alone is a reason to lock someone up. Poor animals being used as pawns in some stupid revenge tactic.

  24. SuffolkHouse says:

    I love it. F the capitalist pigs who are kicking people out of their homes.

  25. satoru says:

    @milqtost: The forclosure market in Tax-achussettes isn’t nearly that good to be honest. At least in California, some of the foreclosed neighborhoods are actually nice-looking. Here, there are lots of foreclosures, in such lovely neighborhoods like Roxbury, Dorchester, Lawrence and Lowell. I would feel safer strapping wads of cash and cocaine to my body and walking down a street in South Central LA than living in those places.

  26. mduser says:

    @chicagocooper: Not everyone made a poor decision when taking out these loans. There are those folks who may have bought a house and then 6 months later they get hit by a car, so now they’re facing the mortgage plus about $20,000 or so in medical bills.

  27. huadpe says:

    @Buran: @unklegwar: Yeah. The idea here is that just before it becomes property of the bank you ruin it as best you can. You do have the legal right to ruin your own house, and that’s what the bank is paying you to not do.

  28. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I recall my friend’s home getting forclosed about a decade ago (in high school). His parents let him trash the house in a huge party, ripping apart the roof, creating all sorts of damage. What stands out in my mind is drawings on the wall of male genitals with wings.

  29. Rando says:

    I’m a little confused over how this is allowed to happen.

    Last I checked, if you don’t pay your bills you get evicted..immediately. Some states allow 30 days. After the 30 days, you’re able to take over your property, no?

  30. Youthier says:

    @chicagocooper: I do feel bad because some people just aren’t as intelligent as others. I don’t mean that to be some huge insult, it’s just the truth. There are people who don’t know that you can’t trust everyone who has a big office and a nice suit. And it’s sad that they have to learn the hard way.

    But I think everyone should take responsibility for themselves and trashing the house is just juvenile.

  31. Barry Zuckerkorn, Esq. says:

    @qwickone: Depends. In some places, mortgage loans are “non-recourse,” meaning that foreclosure is the remedy and the lender cannot go after the borrower for any balance that may be left after sale.

  32. Rando says:

    @mduser: Wronggggggg. If you had a fixed interest rate at the begining, there is no reason for you to suddenly not be able to afford your house unless you made a bad decision. The answer is simple: Don’t buy a fucking house unless you can afford it and have PLENTY left over each month.

  33. savvy9999 says:

    Cement in the drains? That’s rich.

    Some people just never freakin’ grow up.

  34. milqtost says:

    @satoru: Agreed. Not every foreclosed house is a good deal. Some require WAY too much work or are in bad areas or were never good houses to begin with. But if you can filter through all that crap, there are also diamonds in the rough that can be had for a (comparative) song.

  35. milqtost says:

    @Rando: I think it varies quite a bit from state to state. In Colorado you have to be so many months behind before the bank can start proceedings. Then they have to give you a few months to redeem the mortgage. I think all told someone can not pay for like 6-9 months before they are finally physically forced out. And that assumes the banks jump right on it – some delay things hoping the owner will catch up or renegotiate.

  36. EvilTapioca says:

    This really isn’t surprising. I know some people that completely wrecked their house after they lost it. The damage was bad enough the house was condemned. I’d bet that a lot of metals such as copper and aluminum are being ripped out of those places by the former owners too.

  37. DoctorMD says:

    They need a new category of “default” on credit reports if people do this.

  38. satoru says:

    @mduser: Sure that kind of thing happens, but you would assume that those kinds of delinquencies would be relatively random. Thus not be representative of a giant trend nationwide that we are seeing.

    I think what we will be seeing more of though, is middle class people going into foreclosure due to the softening stock market. As company’s stocks begin to tank, they will look to reduce costs, and thus begin layoffs. This will then bring in a new breed of foreclosures, that are more linked to the slowing economy than subprime lending.

  39. ludwigk says:

    Wait a second, locking your pets inside your home *after* vacating? That is, abandoning your pets to starve/squalor just because you’re angry about your mortgage? I’m not particularly fond of domesticated animals, but that is a nauseatingly sick thing to do.

    Trashing your forclosed home is childish and vindictive. Punishing an animal to do it is just plain cruel.

  40. Glaven says:

    The evidence of that discontent was all over the carpet when Mr. Carver, of Prudential Americana Group, first visited a foreclosed house on Perfect Parsley Street. It didn’t look like the usual waste from an abandoned dog or cat. “I would say ‘ferret’ from the way it’s all along the baseboard, the way an animal would scurry,” he said recently, leafing through photos of his most-memorable vandalized properties.

    He’s write about the scurrying, but ferrets almost always poop in the corner – corner of the cage, corner of the room.

    Anyway, this kind of behavior is nothing new to most landlords. When you have to evict tenants, some of them are going to do this kind of thing.

  41. polyeaster says:

    I especially don’t trust ppl with big offices and nice suits…

  42. ThunderRoad says:

    I’ve seen a lot of stories about foreclosed properties being found stripped of all the copper plumbing, because copper is going for so much. Heck, aluminum siding is also worth a pretty good amount.

    I suppose if I was being foreclosed on, felt violated, and I could rip several thousand dollars in salvage out of my place before I got streeted, I’d probably do the same.

    Does it make it right? Not really, but at least somewhat satisfying. Plus, who doesn’t like to destroy stuff?

  43. Anonymous says:

    Pathetic…people get upside down in a house so they ‘stick to the man’ who screwed them over. What kind of logic dictates that you destroy an item you cannot afford?

  44. 51tiggy says:

    Why are the hapless animals being punished, and where’s the SPCA in all this?

  45. dorkins says:

    @coan_net: Well, it always feels better to blame someone else for your problems. Same motivation behind many lawsuits.

  46. dorkins says:

    Sorry, I meant – blame someone else for your stupidity.

  47. zibby says:

    @Rando: Sadly, many people will choose not to understand this simple concept.

  48. dbson says:

    @B: “$207,000 either buys one hell of a van, or pays of a LOT of credit card debt.”

    I was thinking the exact same thing.

  49. dorkins says:

    @mduser: Shouldn’t have gotten hit by that car, should they? Seems irresponsible to me.

  50. RandoX says:

    Notes:
    Went to repossess the home, instead of abandoned home, property contained a bobcat. Would not repossess again.

  51. dsgnomite says:

    Many states require that the Bank/Servicers who takes the house back has to pay relocation assistance to the evicted person. Why don’t the banks do a better job of letting these people know what happens every step of the process. If the house sells for less, they will sue them later (perhaps years later and the evicted person is long gone). After they are evicted, they are just like renters, The bank should extend the courtesy to let them know what will happen next.Most of these people are first time homebuyers and clearly don’t know what is involved in buying, let alone having a foreclosure. Imagine what is going to happen to all these people who now have trashed credit.

  52. I purchased my home almost 2 years ago and I can tell you that people aren’t just now trashing their homes before foreclosure. I got a great bargain, buying a trashed foreclosure home, but I had to install all new appliances, replace all of the carpet, repaint all the doors, walls /and/ ceilings and there is still much work left to be done today.

  53. @Buran: Until the foreclosure actually takes place, it’s still your house. There probably isn’t a lot the bank can do to you.

    Of course, I’m talking through my aft orifice and I could very possibly be wrong.

  54. MoCo says:

    The banks should file criminal charges against the former owners for vandalizing the banks’ property.

  55. smitty1123 says:

    Bet they worked harder trashing the house than they did at paying the bills.

  56. picardia says:

    @ClayS: I’m with you there. Taking out a mortgage you obviously can’t afford = stupid. Trashing the house before the resale that’s supposed to get you out of debt = stupider. Lending to people with no credit and no assets who are likely to do this kind of thing = stupidest.

  57. DeafChick says:

    Where do they get the idea to do something like that? Sounds like extortion; pay me money and I won’t damage the place.

  58. BStu says:

    The media says evil homeowners are trashing their foreclosed houses! The shocking proof? Some guy says its happened once or twice! By golly, clearly a frightening epidemic when one guy says its happened a few times. Especially from a guy who saw it happening when it plainly wasn’t. The story quoted above was clearly a home-owner who knew full well it would cost the bank much more than $500 to evict him and used his legal rights to get a better settlement offer from the bank. What, exactly, is wrong with that? The only link it has to the frightening rash of a couple home rage incidents is that the guy he dealt with was bitter that he had to up his offer.

  59. andrewe says:

    These are the same people who would key your classic 57 Chevy in a parking lot because its nicer than anything they could ever own.

    The whole subprime issue makes me mad at everyone.

  60. Buran says:

    @starrion: Garnishment of income, whenever you have it, the same way child support goes after you. And if the bank’s kicking you out, it’s NOT your house anymore, people…

  61. @Wormfather: I’d read it. In fact, I’ll help you write it!

  62. Trai_Dep says:

    Note how the WSJ picks one of the eggregarious cases of a dumb borrower, leaving out the others that ARE scammed by brokers.
    That said, $200K (- a van) in credit card debt? Jeezus, what an idiot.
    Viva Las Vegas.

  63. trujunglist says:

    holy crap, cement in the drains.. whether you agree with it or not, you have to admit that that’s pretty fucking hardcore.
    I don’t feel bad for these people, because it looks like they’re probably going to get bailed out fairly soon. I’m kinda pissed off actually.. if they’re all getting bailed out for their bad financial decisions, and get to keep their houses or whatever eventually happens i.e. they don’t face any consequences, then I feel kind of stupid for not taking advantage of a broken system while I could. After all, once this whole thing finally gets wrapped up, I’d assume that they’ll make it virtually impossible to fuck over the system again. I could have a house right now instead of an apartment, and even if I can’t pay it, hell, there’s a bailout just around the corner!

  64. VashTS544 says:

    Hey, fuck the banks. If the morgatges wern’t in such legalese that
    the people who took them out could understand them we might not be in
    this situation. The legalese in contracts is so convoluted it takes a
    while to just graps what it is saying. Who is the one who explaines it
    to you if you don’t understand? A bank employee. Banks are private
    organization and out to make money. Anyways, what the hell is a
    homeowner going to care if he gets sent to prison for vandalism. FREE
    HOUSING AND FOOD!!! At the cost of your taxes. Hahahaha. Hey, prison is
    still prison, but at least you’re not sleeping under the overpass every
    night. Anyways, if the bank gives them a WARNING that they will be
    forclosed, then it is still the homeowner’s property and they can do
    what ever they want to to it. The only thing I don’t like is the use of
    animals in this.

  65. GoldHoops says:

    I’ve been an faithful reader of this site for months, and have bit my tongue til it bled when reading some of the comments related to the mortgage crisis. I’m one of the people that got a sub prime loan. It wasn’t for a McMansion. It was for a 3 bedroom townhouse. I thought I made enough money to cover the mortgage and the association dues. I went in with my eyes open, knowing that the payments would adjust upwards, even though the mortgage company and my own lawyer told me at the closing that “Your payments could go up…or they could go down! It depends on the interest rate!”

    When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to keep up the payments, I didn’t just sit there. I tried to refinance. No dice. I tried a loan modification. The bank wasn’t having it. So I called a realtor. I did everything I could to make the house presentable, including putting a reasonable amount of time and energy into some repairs and tweaking that I thought would make the house more marketable.

    The house finally sold after seven months on the market, for $54,000 less than my original asking price. In fact, I had to do a short sale, and I will be paying back the mortgage company for the next fourteen years.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that many commentors on this site paint the borrowers in these situations as irresponsible. But how is it irresponsible to want a piece of the American Dream? To follow the advice of every single person you know and buy a home? To listen when people say that its the ONLY way to build wealth and that home values NEVER go down? Who can you ask for advice when your own parents never owned a home? I know that I did get myslef into a bad situation, but I did my best to get out of it, with as little damage to my credit as possible.

    There are lots of other people and stories out there like mine, and I wish commentors on this site would stop and realize that, and that this crisis isn’t the “fault” of any one entity or group.

  66. backbroken says:

    @GoldHoops: “There are lots of other people and stories out there like mine, and I wish commentors on this site would stop and realize that, and that this crisis isn’t the “fault” of any one entity or group.”

    Amen to that. It’s collective greed that has gotten us into this mess. No one entity or group owns this pile of shit.

  67. Adam Hyland says:

    @Buran: Sorry, it is still their house until the bank takes title. they don’t have a contractual obligation to keep it neat and tidy for the bank to find. It’s reprehensible, sure, but not illegal. Furthermore, it is more an outgrowth of how we view ourselves in a social space than anything else. These people don’t “know” the bank like we think that people knew bankers in the past. They got their house from a realtor with a mortgage from a broker and went through the whole process in a pretty alienated manner. Now they have fucked up and can’t pay for the mortgage and they view this as the bank’s fault–because no one likes to view things as their own fault. So they figure if the bank is going to get a house for ‘free’ it is going to cost them.

    in the end it hurts everyone. The bank will probably not turn around (even if it could) a damaged home and it will sit vacant for many months. The added business to contractors isn’t really a net gain (it is actually a net loss for welfare) to society because that money could have been better spent building things rather than fixing damages. And it isn’t liable to force too many banks to stop foreclosing on homes.

    But before we get on the blame the victim gravy train, we need to understand what makes people do this. I’ll try to give an example. Where I live there is an Army recruiting station near the college. The college is a big school, but it is sort of ‘second tier’ so a lot of people drop out or run out of money and look to the Army or the reserves to help. So the location is natural. Last month, for the second year in a row (I guess it was this month, about the 17th), the station was vandalized by protestors. The windows were broken or spraypainted and slogans were written everywhere. That was stupid and ugly. Those recruiters aren’t the enemy. They didn’t get the US in to Iraq. Some of them don’t want us to be there. so they are the wrong target. But it is unfair and irresponsible to stop there. The reason those protestors damaged that recruiting station rather than having a sit-in or traveling far afield was clear. Sit ins weren’t working. quiet protest of the war was obviously failing, and they were getting angrier and angrier every day. They couldn’t go to washington and vandalize the pentagon (added security notwithstanding) so they took their anger out on something closer. They didn’t know what else to do so they had to break something.

    People do stupid, hurtful and illogical things when placed in extremis–either by their own actions or the actions of others. If we spend all our time castigating them for the actions they take we miss out on the greater lesson of WHY those actions were taken.

  68. Phildawg says:

    This entire crisis is America’s problem! It’s the entire f*cked up culture that is America. Just as the story above me shows, this isn’t as clear cut as so many here want to make it.

    Simply put, America’s chickens have come home to roost!

    We need to change the entire mindset of America and realize that we could only exploit the rest of the world to our gain for so long. Within 40 years, America will be insignificant on the global scene as our national GDP continues to fall ever year and becomes less significant.

  69. modenastradale says:

    @LewisNYC:

    Yep, although in some states (like California) there can’t be any deficiency judgment if it was your primary residence. So, I don’t think the homeowners could be held responsible unless there’s some other kind of statutory violation or tort or something the bank could stick them with.

  70. coan_net says:

    @GoldHoops: You got in over your head – and your got yourself out of it – YEA, Way to go!

    10 years ago, I was in BIG credit card debt. Today, the only thing I don’t have paid off is my house. I have a credit card with only $500 limit so I can’t get myself into trouble, and that is paid off every month.

    I’m happy to see those who find themselves in trouble, and able to get them out… not wine about it.

    Like I said in an above post, I bought my home about 2 years ago – upfront, over and over I told every bank I went to that I wanted a fixed rate. None of the bullcrap on not knowing what I’ll be paying each month.

    What pisses me off even more is that the government is trying to bail many of those homeowners out – by freezing the mortgage rate and such. I was smart enough to get a fixed rate that I could afford…. shouldn’t I get any of that bailout money? Opps, didn’t get myself into trouble like some of the others.

    …. sorry, getting off topic again. Anyway, sounds like you got yourself out of trouble without winning about “why me”, and blaming everyone except for yourself. It’s those type of people that piss me off…. who think it is everyone else’s fault except for their own.

  71. modenastradale says:

    @GoldHoops:

    GoldHoops,

    Sorry to hear about your situation. What part of the country do you live in? Here in SoCal, I was seeing homemade advertisements for those desperate upside-down “fire sales” as early as November 2006. Even, or especially, in upscale coastal communities.

    Oddly, I see less of those nowadays. Perhaps with the market in the shape it’s in, everyone has just given up?

    In any case, I couldn’t agree with you more about the level of judgment and schadenfreude on this blog. I think a lot of people feel the need to kick other people when they’re down, so that they can feel better about their own life choices. Like, “hey, my life is small and unfulfilling — but at least I’m not a McMansion idiot! har har!”

    I haven’t purchased property becuase I simply can’t afford it right now. But I must say, there has been a lot of social pressure! Before the market tanked, *everyone* was telling me how I was discarding my money by renting, how I needed to “grow up” and “invest.” I pointed out that my student loans were nearly as large as some people’s mortagages — but the house-pushers were relentless. “House prices in this area are a sure thing! The mortgage will pay itself! Etc.”

    I feel very fortunate that timing prevented me from being able to purchase during the height of the bubble. It would have been hard to resist!

  72. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @GoldHoops:
    1) I’m sorry that your lost your townhouse- thats a bummer no matter who’s fault it was.

    2) That being said, I absolutely HATE when people refer to borrowing what amounts to 60+% of their income to “own” (when it is no more owning that you own your rent-a-center couch) a cramped 3 bedroom townhouse as “the american dream”.

    I don’t know what america you dream about, but fuck that.

    I’ll purchase a house when I can put 20% down and make the payments with 40% of my income, and patiently wait out the damage all you impatient, shortsighted people caused.

  73. Mr_Burmie says:

    @Rando: That being said, people can still end up not being able to afford to make mortgage payments that were once well within their means. Why? Job loss followed by a long, long, long period of unemployment (that is to say, far longer than anticipated. Meaning that the savings set aside to tide someone over during a lay-off may be depleted). Or divorce. Or a serious illness that leads to permanent disability.

    Life is not as predictable as we need to delude ourselves into believing.

    You can plan and do all the right and responsible things and still lose out.

    I guess it rankles me to see people judged for making decisions that failed to take into account every single worst possible case scenario.

  74. Blueskylaw says:

    Took out a $207,000 home-equity loan to pay off credit-card bills and buy his wife a new van.

    How big were his credit card bills and how many axles did the van have to make it a 207,000 debt?

  75. Adam Hyland says:

    @coan_net: So….it shouldn’t raise any red flags that you had to go through a considerable amount of effort to secure a traditional mortgage? that someone with less experience or foresight than you would have been stuck in an ARM because both their broker and their bank said something to the effect of “It’s ok, home prices always go up and you can refinance later.” Is that ok?

    I mean, I understand the reticence to bail out homeowners, but lets be honest with each other. It isn’t like there is a column A of good citizens and a column B of lazy goons. It isn’t as though people were presented dispassionately with the choice between a ‘good’ deal and a ‘bad’ deal. All parties involved pushed the bad deal, including those who had more information than the buyer, more training than the buyer and should have known better. What if these forclosures occur because the appraiser was pressured into valuing the home at more than it was worth? Is it the buyer’s fault for entering into that contract as well? What about the people who were lied to, told that only ARMs were offered?

    Do we expect that potential home buyers understand complex financial instruments, the trajectory of home prices and the underpinnings of home appraisal? NO. OF COURSE NOT. We mandate (sometimes) that these jobs be performed by experts. I can’t appraise a home in my state, that expertise is limited to someone with (presumably) the training and license to do it. I don’t expect any homeowners to predict the trend in home prices, period. Obviously, banks, mortgage brokers and economists couldn’t, so why should we expect homeowners to? I also don’t think it is appropriate to treat contract signing effectively under duress as equivalent to a contract between equals.

    the last point is important, but I don’t think I have space to cover it fully. :)

  76. chicagocooper says:

    I find it humorous that people blame the banks and cheer on people that destroy there own house because they can’t have it anymore. Or even those that want pity because they over extended themselves. This whole thing is a joke. It’s two generations of spoiled baby boomer’s and there kids that expect everything to be handed to them and take no responsibility for their actions. If you want the ‘american dream’ earn it. Work hard and don’t buy what you can’t afford. Period.

  77. Adam Hyland says:

    Also, while we get all frothy about ‘bailing out’ homeowners, we should realize that the term auction facility and the discount window are both being used by the Fed to bail out brokers and investment banks–precisely they people who should have known better–to the tune of 400 billion dollars. The us is trading gov’t securities for the very same mortgage backed bonds that got us in to this trouble.

    So let’s be real and note that we have already invested 0.4 TRILLION dollars in people who made bad investments on houses and none of it on homeowners.

  78. Parting says:

    Some people are jerks, no ma

  79. GoldHoops says:

    @modenastradale: I live in the Northeast. I purchased my home at the height of the feeding frenzy. Houses would go on the market and be under contract literally within hours. I would get frantic calls from my realtor, “You have to go see this house NOW and sign the contract NOW or someone else will!” I remember scheduling an appointment to see a house, showing up and there being three other potential buyers there, all ready to sign contracts. Of course, when I put my house on the market, the exact opposite was true.

    @m4ximusprim3: Hindsight is 20/20. At the time I purchased, I, and no one else, anticipated a crash, let alone a crash of this magnitude. Housing prices were going up. There was a feeling that if you didn’t get in then, you would never be able to afford it. I had to the prospect of waiting to save enough money for a sizable downpayment on one hand and never having enough as prices kept rising (and, although I didn’t put down 20%, I did put down a lot of money), or jumping into the fray and hoping I would be able to ride it out. It didn’t work out. But calling me, and others like me names, especially without knowing the totality of our experiences, isn’t helpful to the discussion.

  80. Parting says:

    @chouchou: no matter if there a valid reason. My friends bought a house to live in. People who resided there were renters from previous owner. They knew 6 month in advance that they had to move out in July.

    Well, being pissed that immigrants bought ”their” house, they trashed some walls, made holes in the outdoor swimming pool and stole garage’s remote controls.

  81. Parting says:

    @chouchou: and they scratched neighbor friend’s car with keys.

  82. Adam Hyland says:

    @chicagocooper: I’ll have to borrow from Jon Stewart:

    “I really love the way jim cramer breaks down really complex financial issues into those that are WRONG”

    If all you got out of this crisis is that baby boomers caused it then you couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

  83. SOhp101 says:

    Why would ANYONE do this??? The value at which the home sells will pay back most of the loan and you will ‘only’ owe what is leftover, so if you drastically reduce the value of your house you are only shooting yourself in the foot.

  84. Buran says:

    @Adam Hyland: But if they are being told they have to leave, the bank already has won. You can’t be kicked out of your house if you still own it.

    And breaking the law because you’re pissed about something is wrong. Period. I don’t care how angry you are. You find a legal outlet for your frustration or pay the consequences of what you do. If that includes financial penalties or jail, you should have thought of that before you did something wrong.

  85. modenastradale says:

    @SOhp101:

    SOhp101 –

    It’s because some states have “anti-deficiency” statutes that protect you from being sued for a deficiency judgment if a creditor repossesses your primary residence. In general I think it’s a good policy because life is unpredictable and banks are in a better position to calculate and value that extra risk. But, yes, it does offer a peverse incentive.

  86. @ludwigk: Yes, there should definitely be criminal charges for the folks who: “locked their pets inside to wreak further havoc”

    I take that part of it very personally because one of my poor cats was abandoned by his people when they left because they just COULDN’T BE BOTHERED to take him with. They abandoned him OUTSIDE, which I suppose is better than locking him in, but he came out of the experience with just one eye.

    The only good thing in this situation is that animals don’t have great long-term memory, so 5 years later, happy and fat, I don’t think he remembers. (Except that he fears the outdoors.)

    Makes me FURIOUS. I shall have to go give my kittehs extra snuggles now.

  87. Adam Hyland says:

    @Buran: Except when it isn’t breaking the law. If the bank doesn’t have title of the home, it isn’t theirs. I’m not defending the behavior as good or moral–it’s socially damaging and short sighted. But that doesn’t make it against the law.

    If the bank had title or the owners endangered animals or people, then sure, lock them up.

    Also, I guess you didn’t want to read what I was writing about motivations for destructive behavior. the law and order approach is great, but it is a blunt tool not meant for all situations. It also doesn’t equally respond to the spectrum of crimes that exist. The brokers out there that pressured appraisers to inflate estimates won’t be treater the same way as the homebuyer who wrecks a hardwood floor in frustration. The companies that knowingly obfuscated bond ratings in order to resell bad loans won’t get the same punishment as someone who took a mortgage they couldn’t afford. Even though the damage to society from the actors who started this was much larger.

    We distort the world by taking a beat cop approach to things and we shouldn’t. life isn’t cut and dry. It isn’t simple. It isn’t black and white. good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. Bad people do bad things and get away with it. any combination you can think of. If we eliminate motive and context then we blot out a whole slice of the world that we can never look at again. I hate to be trite, but if we pretend that 9/11 happened because the US was just too free and muslims didn’t like that then we are bound to make the same mistakes that got us there in the first place. Divorced from context, the conclusions we come to are inaccurate and misleading.

  88. ScarletBegonias says:

    i take offense to alot of the posts saying that you shouldnt get yourself in that position. our house was recently at the rick of forclosure because my mother was in the hospital and the doctors didint know what was wrong with her so the insurance wouldnt cover anything because they said any and all treatments were experimental and therefore we had to pay and as a result my father feel behind on the house payments and the bank stepped in. sometimes there are just a series of events that throw you off.

    for the record. we wouldnt have trashed the house had we indeed lost it.

  89. ScarletBegonias says:

    @ScarletBegonias: i did that very fast, excuse the numerous typos …

  90. clickertrainer says:

    During the last mortgage crises (1985), I looked at a foreclosed property that had been painted gray. All of it. House, windows, roof, trees, grass, driveway….

  91. econobiker says:

    @VashTS544: Vash, you describe it to a T. It is all anonymous essentially. These are the same people who leave their trash on the McDonald’s table for someone else to clean up since they already paid and clean up should be included – right?

  92. econobiker says:

    @GoldHoops: As for the contract and buying frenzy- the realator wants this to happen as it benefits him but not the seller. If this was happening the property was underpriced… it should have been priced higher to discourage this frenzy and maximize value to the seller.

  93. Craig says:

    The saddest thing in this story is not whether or not this guy was going to trash the house or even the fact that he got evicted, but rather that he managed to accumulate $175K in credit card debt (assuming a $32K van) and still qualified for a home equity loan with the terms the story describes.

    If banks aren’t going to be responsible in their lending (both for credit cards and home loans) then it’s a downward spiral from there.

  94. Buran says:

    @Adam Hyland: But it still doesn’t excuse it. And you still have not answered my point that someone who doesn’t own your house can’t order you out, therefore you don’t own the house when you are ordered out.

  95. Adam Hyland says:

    @econobiker: (@ the second comment)

    WHAAA?

    I mean, we can take some classical interpretation here and suggest that a sticky price below the expected market outcome would lead to a shortage, but are you insane?

    did you just comment in 2008 that in 2004 a home was likely UNDERPRICED? I….I don’t know what to say.

    Also, the seller and the realtor basically share motivations insofar as the commission for the realtor is generated by the sale. Freakonomics did a good review of a great study that showed that realtors were less inclined to go the distance for their clients than for themselves, but the basic incentive is the same.

  96. Blueskylaw says:

    Where do they get the idea to do something like that? Sounds like extortion; pay me money and I won’t damage the place.
    @DeafChick:

    Unfortunately this is a fact of life. When we had to kick a tenant out because of non payment and drug dealing, we could have gone the legal way with lawyers, sherrifs serving paperwork, storage fees for his property and many months before he is evicted while staying free. We offered him $1000 to leave the place the next day intact and even moved his stuff to his friends house.
    Did this leave a bad taste in my mouth? Yes.
    But it was also the most economical way to resolve the situation.

  97. Blueskylaw says:

    .

  98. Adam Hyland says:

    @Buran: I’m not looking to excuse it. But I don’t think the law and order crowd is looking to understand it. And I think that it shows when we talk about the contracts and the response. Most of the law and order crowd treats the mortgage contracts as deals between equals taken with perfect information and no duress. That is a stunning set of assumptions that have the unfortunate quality of being false.

    And I think there are some subtelties to the forclosure business that I am not away of. I suspect that some laws exist to protect the primary residence (as some commenters have said), but I don’t know how or when ownership changes hands and under what conditions.

    Presumably, police enforcement is relatively costless, so if the behavior of the homebuyers was blatantly illegal, we would be reading a headline like “some owners sent to the clink for trashing homes.”

  99. @BStu: “Some guy says its happened once or twice! By golly, clearly a frightening epidemic when one guy says its happened a few times. “

    It is a fairly common occurrence. It’s getting press now because foreclosures are big news generally, but anyone who’s dealt with foreclosures before can tell you there is a subset of people getting foreclosed on who trash the place for spite.

    I have a neighbor being foreclosed on for traditional reasons, not for having bought too much house during the boom (basically, that his wife’s drug habit got ahead of his drug dealing money and his pie-in-the-sky crazy schemes that never involved having an actual job), and everybody knew he’d be a trasher when he left. The neighborhood’s been pretty proactive about it, but I understand there’s some interior floor and wall damage.

    Actually, I’d be kinda interested to see a demographic comparison of foreclosures before the sub-prime crisis and foreclosures now, and if there’s any similarities or differences as to which kinds of folks trash the place. Do professionals with unaffordable ARMs on their McMansions trash more often out of a sense of fury and entitlement? Or are they more likely to leave quietly? That’d be interesting to know.

    And Gold, thanks for sharing your experience with us all.

    I just keep thinking of the prodigal son when I see all the schadenfreude. The prodigal son ALWAYS gets the bailout, people, and the good child is rewarded for being good with nothing. Do we really WANT to be that petty, to be the good child who fumes over not getting the bailout? Or do we have compassion for the prodigal?

  100. ChuckECheese says:

    @qwickone: My brother-in-law purchased a house in suburban Mpls where the previous owners ripped the 2nd-story deck off (the neighbor said they used a winch), removed all the appliances and bathroom fixtures, and ripped and smashed the kitchen cabinets, leaving them in a pile on the floor.

  101. ChuckECheese says:

    @Craig: I’ll bet his credit card debt was in the normal $25-$40K range (lol). The rest of the money went for silver-toed working boots and titanium shovels for his landscaping business, and that’s why his wife had to divorce him. Or maybe his wife spent it on lipsticks and hatpins, and that’s why he had to divorce her.

  102. Buran says:

    @Adam Hyland: Good point. Can someone who knows the details enlighten us?

  103. @Adam Hyland: “police enforcement is relatively costless”

    I can tell you from doing evictions that it’s a royal pain in the ass if you have to get the cops involved. It’s low on their list of priorities and it makes the entire price take three times as long.

    This will obviously vary by where you live and what your PD contends with — ours has a lot of active crime to deal with before handling evictions — but it makes it so. slow.

  104. zibby says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Don’t confuse financial responsibility with “goodness” – I’d kick the prodigal son right in the nads if he were in my family.

  105. @Eyebrows McGee: “price” = process, I’m sorry, I have the worst headache.

  106. ChuckECheese says:

    @Blueskylaw: The guy in the story didn’t threaten to trash anything. He said it would cost more to remove him forcibly than the $500 they were offering him. He could have been talking about eviction costs and court fees, for example.

  107. zibby says:

    @clickertrainer: It’s amazing the work people will put into this nonsense. Better to spend the time reading a book on how not to F up the next time out, no?

  108. MBZ321 says:

    Shouldn’t these people who just lost their homes spend their time WORKING or FINDING A JOB instead of spending hours childishly trashing a house? I can understand removing appliances and maybe expensive bathroom faucets and the like, but why trash a house because you were unable to afford it??

  109. @GoldHoops: Well, that’s because a lot of these people WERE irresponsible. $1.1 million for a 1100 SF ranch built in 1970 – does that make any sense at all? It wouldn’t to me, no matter what the people on HGTV might tell me. I tell ya what; if I had a house like that where I lived for awhile, and somebody told me it was worth over a million bucks, I’d have asked him if he had any buyers. These same houses were selling for no more than $150,000 not all that long ago, and a million bucks will pay rent on a very nice apartment for a REALLY long time no matter where you live.

    Somebody got filthy stinking rich from this bubble, but it wasn’t you or me. We, at least, can hold our heads up high because we didn’t try to milk our houses for HELOC cash like a lot of people who WERE irresponsible.

  110. katman2 says:

    I completely agree with you. My story is similar, although haven’t gotten more than a month behind so far. I bought a house I could afford, then the property taxes sky rocketed because property values went up. Then our gas/electric company raised rates to where now my monthly bill is double what it was 18 months ago. Then our delightful governor decided property taxes and sales tax wasn’t enough so he raise those also. A house I could afford 18 months ago with a few hundred a month to spare now takes every bit of my income and I pretty much have to take turns on which bills get paid every month. I financed at a fixed rate for a small 3 BR 2 BA house, not a McMansion by any means. With our sales tax being raised, and gas prices forcing everything to cost more, I will probably be one of those getting foreclosed on before too long.@GoldHoops:

  111. RandomHookup says:

    When I had to evict renters, they broke a few windows, but the biggest pain was I had to pay to move and store their goods for three months (required) and the doofus had a truck and a half of stuff to deal with. Gladly wrote that check, though.

  112. Canoehead says:

    Hmmm . . . if interest rates are at historic lows, then the ONLY direction mortgage rates can move is up.

    America is one of the very few places in the world where you can get a 25 or 30 year mortgage with totally fixed rates – folks in other countries are rightly very jealous. For the last 6 years, those rates have been incredibly low – so getting into a fixed mortgage has been a steal – and if you couldn’t afford one, then you simply could not afford that house. Of course, as time went on, the low rates led to high prices…

  113. Adam Hyland says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Right, but in comparison to push for civil relief it isn’t too hard to make some poor bank emloyee ride the cops to get them to help. and what I’m talking about is after the fact relief, not removal. I agree that removing a sitting home owner in a foreclosure situation is probably as sticky as an eviction. But getting the cops to chase down and lock up someone who broke something is much cheaper than suing them for the cost of damages.

    If the banks were legal owners when the property damage occurs, this is a pretty simple solution, at least for the banks.

  114. anonvmoos says:

    i like to think of it this way… if the banks would somehow allow people to keep their houses, then the people could keep their jobs and keep paying the bills… right?

    rent always seems to be going up, i have no idea where these people who got kicked out are going to find a place to stay. so many of these new condos going up ‘in the low 300s’ what? really? where are the min wage staffers supposed to live?

  115. cde says:

    @Buran: Prove they damaged the house while it was the bank’s property. They could have done it while it was still their property.

    And they don’t have the money to pay for their own house, where do you think they will pull the money out of to pay for the damage? Their ass?

    @Rando: Different states, different rules. One, eviction is not a over night thing. The renter has to file for eviction in court, and prove that you haven’t paid. Then the rentee gets served and then evicted finally. But that’s for renting. It’s different for owning.

  116. cde says:

    @Adam Hyland: You would just need to prove it happened when the Bank owned the house. Most damage doesn’t have a decay time like human bodies (no e.t.d.). Just fire damage, and that’s a “It’s hot/still warm/no longer warm” situation.

    @ChuckECheese: He was also thinking how much the bank would lose/he would have to pay in rent if he stayed those 6 months.

  117. greensmurf says:

    @loganmo: any borrowers that Abandon their pets and leave them to STARVE TO DEATH, need to DIE IN A FIRE, but be locked in a room with no water, food or toilet for two weeks before.
    People that leave their pets because they dont want to deal with what to do with a animal that has given them free unconditional love only show that they are spinless bottom feeding walking brown turds that spread nothing but feces on the earth.
    They should be put to sleep (the people not the pets)

  118. greensmurf says:

    sory Loganmo I hit wrong quote button by mistake

  119. MrEvil says:

    What part of “Adjustable” in Adjustable Rate Mortgage do people not get? You’re a goddamned IDIOT if you get an ARM when interest rates are low and the Fed is perpetually considering hiking them up. Back in the 80′s when rates were through the roof, an ARM Made perfect sense because you avoided the problems of refinancing when rates started coming down.

    However, I can understand when shit happens. You get hit by a DUI, or your shrew of a wife leaves you and takes most of your paycheck with her. You can’t really plan for those types of incidents because nobody really wants to think about them…and if they do they got issues. However, I have no sympathy for morons that get an ARM for twice as much house as they need and can actually afford.

  120. Adam Hyland says:

    @MrEvil: Uhhh, the part where most people don’t REALLY know the determinants of interest rates. Or the part where most people, even on this site, couldn’t tell me how the Fed sets interest rates without a trip to wikipedia. Or the part where most long term interest rate predictions are bunk. Or the part where most predictions in the late 1990′s were of perpetual growth just as most predictions of interest rates in this decade were that they would remain low for a long time to come.

    Every bubble has with it the people who bray loudly that the rules have changed. When those people are the ‘advisors’ to homebuyers, what are we to do? If I’m a bricklayer, how should I know that home prices won’t always go up or that interest rates may be functionally bounded around the mean (they probably aren’t, but w/e)?

    It isn’t abdication of responsibility to assume that some details are outside your control or scope of knowledge.

  121. ironchef says:

    It’s hard to have sympathy for somebody insane enough to take out a home equity loan of $207,000…which is GREATER than the $140,000 mortgage, btw.

  122. dantsea says:

    Why would anyone not expect childish behavior from people who couldn’t do basic math?

  123. joellevand says:

    @Wormfather: I’m 110% with you!

  124. joellevand says:

    @SuffolkHouse: Except it’s not their home. It’s the bank’s home.

  125. joellevand says:

    @51tiggy: Exactly what I was thinking. Poor animals!!!

  126. ginnylavender says:

    These stories sound like urban myths, MAYBE based on a couple of cases; somebody should check out the facts on these. I can see people not wanting to clean up when they move under these circumstances, and of course there was wear and tear while they lived there. Probably some histrionics involved, a few threats to do such things, and some reporter ran with it. That seems to be the quality of “news” items these days.

  127. thewriteguy says:

    B-B-But they ain’t making any more land!

  128. 3DLADY says:

    @greensmurf: & @ Eyebrows McGee:
    I am the guardian of several cats, all from shelters. I also volunteer at an animal shelter. I see cats that come into the shelter identified as “STRAYS”, who have been nuetered and declawed, and are as sweet and friendly as can be. Sure, the “street” had all those surgical operations preformed. I have seen cats that were abandoned outside the shelter when it was closed, even in the dead of winter. Some cats now who are arriving in the shelter were found locked inside of empty apartments and houses. I agree with both of you that the humans, and I won’t call them human animals as it’s an insult to the animals, should be drawn and quartered. My dream is to win a 50 million lottery so I could buy a lot of land and build a 30 room house so I could give happy homes to all the animals in the shelter. But the best I can do now is to give them lots of love and attention, and pray that someone adopts them soon.

  129. whitjm5 says:

    Simply astounding. ‘I signed a contract that I didn’t understand which ended up being more than I could afford and now that I’m being foreclosed on I’m going to destroy the house that the bank loaned me the money to buy.’

    I find it despicable that so many brokers did shady loans for people – but where is the personal responsibility in all of this? I think the banks should work more with mortgage holders to keep them from losing their homes – but at what point do we stop holding people’s hands?

    Luckily, I learned on relatively minor things (gym contract, whole-life insurance policy, etc) that you get burned when you sign something you don’t fully understand. Why don’t more adults get that?

  130. tz says:

    In one corner, you have some poor person who was practically scammed (I’d like to have anyone here take a standard mortgage contract – often a large fraction of an inch thick – read it for 48 hours, then pass a quiz on the terms). In the other corner, a faceless, soulless corporation that the main contact point is someone with an indian accent, except when they call you and violate the various debt collection laws.

    Before, the banker knew the borrower. Sometimes they even attended the same church. So the banker would be more prudent (stingy) to avoid bad scenes sometime later. And demanded 20% down in a flat market. If something had to happen, it would be person-to-person. Not CDO tranche owners collective v.s. struggling homeowner.

    Corporations thought the social contract was less efficient and they were right. But destruction is also far more efficient than building.

  131. KJones says:

    There was an item an hour ago on Chicken Noodle News about foreclosures in Florida.

    The pricks evicting people were showing up with no notice and literally throwing people’s property out the door, damaging much of it. Sending a piece of paper without a fixed date of eviction is no notice. Small wonder some of the people being evicted were shooting at the pigs knocking on their doors. (Shooting may not be legal, but it’s understandable given the emotions of the situation.)

    Give an exact date and a reasonable solution to the borrower, and they’ll be more cooperative.

  132. @Adam Hyland: “If the banks were legal owners when the property damage occurs”

    Oh, yeah, sorry. The bank typically isn’t, at least in my state. It’s sort of like a wedding — you get plenty of notice of the date in advance and it’s not like it’s a surprise, but until it actually arrives, nobody’s married, and the bank doesn’t “own” the house.

    And like a marriage there is a transitional stage between the announcement of engagement and the actual marriage where we all act partially as if the marriage has occurred (it’s terribly bad manners to attempt to date the bride), but nothing legal has yet occurred. Once the foreclosure process has been set in motion, yeah, you’re in a transitional stage where the outcome is clearly known — but until it actually arrives, the legalities don’t change. (At least in my state.) It’s certainly immature and bad-mannered, possibly immoral (if you want to apply that to business dealings), but not illegal.

    Also, when renters trash the place, it DOES still belong to the owner the entire time, but it’s still often too much hassle to pursue criminal charges. (And at least with a civil complaint, you might get wage garnishment or something — but typically unless you’re evicting college students whose parents co-signed, you’re not evicting folks whose wages are going to be worth garnishing, although it depends on filing costs. For a $40 filing cost I’d do it anyway; for a $290 filing cost, I’d say screw it.)

    @ginnylavender: “These stories sound like urban myths, MAYBE based on a couple of cases; somebody should check out the facts on these.”

    Dude, it’s happening across the street from me. It’s been happening for years. Ask Realtors who deal in lower-end properties, or your local slumlord, or attorneys who do evictions. (Or anyone who rents to college students — there are always some bad eggs in that basket, just as college students are often your BEST renters.) It just wasn’t NEWS before the big sub-prime foreclosure mess.

    I myself have handled evictions (not foreclosures) where the departing renters trashed the shit out of the place because they were pissed about being evicted after not paying their rent for 9 months and dealing crack out of the rental property. I also helped with an eviction that ended up with the renter in prison because he pulled a gun on anyone who came to evict him. Rent 15 months past due by the time the cops tossed him in jail. That place was not in great shape either.

  133. LINIS says:

    @SuffolkHouse: You clearly have no understanding of a) the crisis this country is facing, b) morals, and c) the fact that the fault lies in the hands of both banks and consumers.

  134. Valhawk says:

    Wait wait wait, people are locking pets in their houses to be forclosed. Call the cops, sounds like animal cruelty to me. Bastards!

  135. doc10house says:

    Screw everyone who says “punish people who make stupid decisions” and lumps us all into that group.

    Some of us have very (seemingly) secure 240000-dollar a year jobs which suddenly just…go away, with no prospect of replacement. Some have to live on their 401K, which we WERE proactive enough to have, while we look with futility for another job which justifies our years of post-secondary education and pays our considerable debts.

    Some of us list our homes for sale for well over a year and break our balls to keep up with payments, even selling any non-essential possession that doesn’t belong to our kids, because we understand what foreclosure does to a credit report…but can’t sell it because we’re not able to drop the price to a competitive level, due to lack of equity. Because, again, when we signed a contract, we thought we’d have a job for a while.

    Some finally succumb to foreclosure and bankruptcy because circumstance has dictated it, and while we found another job it does’t pay but about 20% of what the one we had did, and we left the house in immaculate condition precisely because we understand the concept of the difference between resale and mortgage principal being taxed as income. Not everybody who’s foreclosed upon has a bonfire in the living room, an orgy on the front lawn, has a truck on blocks out front, and paints a beer-bottle target on the wall before they leave.

    Some aren’t stupid, haphazard or short-sighted at all. Some are just unlucky.

    So, yeah…back off.

  136. caranguejo says:

    What about living within your means? Is that a thing of the past?

  137. soke2001 says:

    My next door neighbor was just evicted… house is in complete disrepair, but what is worse is that we now have a bunch of weirdos living in it. These are ppl that the ex-owners rented a room to. They moved in with a bunch of friends and party all day. I’m afraid to do anything for fear of them vandalizing my house/cars. Sucks arse!!

  138. jimconsumer says:

    @Buran: And if the bank’s kicking you out, it’s NOT your house anymore, people…

    Technically it never was your house. It belonged to the bank the entire time. Unless you paid it off and hold title, but then nobody is going to foreclose on you…

  139. Anonymous says:

    Are you people even serious the banks seek you out, rapes you (as if all of you read every word in your mortgage contract)then has every right to take it away without even trying to work with you then have the nerve to bribe you not to trash the home…some of you idiots actually go for this. I have an idea why don’t you head on down to your local baqnk hand over your first born(for what they are worth?)and go live in a van down by the river, of course after your finished broomsweeping the house the bank took. All home prices are going to crap either way so a little vengeance helps some sleep at night and belive the bankers are sleeping..in the cozy beds you helped pay fpr…Wimps