Fraud is rampant in any market of desperation. Depending on the analyst we have anywhere from 7 million to 12 million homes that are at risk of going to foreclosure over the next 3 years. So, we have this population of homeowners at risk of foreclosure. They have reached a point when they could no longer afford their mortgage payments. The stress has built. They have talked to everyone about “What can I do?”, “What is going to happen?” One detail that is missed is as the nightmare of losing the home, that is all encompassing, is that when that Notice of Sale /Default is filed it is a public announcement.
This list of homes that now have Notices of Sale on them are now in the hands of hundreds if not thousands of people. Hopefully all would be individuals with honest business interests in that information. Unfortunately, many do not. These bad people are looking to do bad things to that poor unwitting homeowner. This is a quote from a Fraud publication:
“And Todd Leary, a former college basketball star in Indiana, may serve up to 3 years on charges that he stole appliances from foreclosed homes. Leary supposedly paid two other men to move refrigerators and other appliances out of foreclosed homes and then sold them to an Indianapolis appliance store, claiming that he worked for a company that bought, repaired and then resold foreclosed homes. Leary told police that he picked the homes off an auction listing on the Hamilton County sheriff’s website.”
Here someone was taking appliances out of homes notice for foreclosure. What else might happen? Home Invasion, theft or opportunity for scams like foreclosure rescue companies taking advantage?
Every homeowner needs to understand that the problems surrounding foreclosure do not stop with losing the home. So what do you do? First, understand that you are a target. Awareness can be the biggest factor in protecting yourself from becoming a victim of these frauds and crimes. Secure your home. “But, what if I need to move before the foreclosure?” Understand that you, the homeowner, are responsible for that home till the Deed transfers to either the lender or the party purchasing it at foreclosure sale. Any damage or loss is responsibility. You must notify your Homeowner’s Insurance carrier that the home is abandoned. Many insurance companies do not cover a vacant home. Make sure you keep coverage on that home. If you have an alarm system, don’t turn it off.
Foreclosure can also be an embarrassing event. Many foreclosed homeowners want to keep it a secret. Maybe it might be in your best interest to share your situation with your close neighbor friends. If you are going to leave the home unattended for any length of time at least someone else is looking out for you.
Valuables are another consideration. If an exit from the home is inevitable then maybe it is time to remove jewelry, collectibles etc and store then somewhere secure. As many homeowners are facing foreclosure they make a great choice to pursue a Short Sale. Make sure you find a good Short Sale Real Estate Agent who understands these issues and will inform you how to prepare your home to receive potential viewers of your home that might not necessarily be interested in buying it and may just be looking for a free look at what they are going to take later.
Bottom line is if your home has been noticed for foreclosure you have become a Target of thieves and bad people. That does not mean you have to become a victim. Be aware of the risks and make good decisions.