I had a new experience today. Not that I am new to real estate, but I just hadn't had the occasion to hang out for one of these. I attended an eviction. The clean-out crew, locksmith and Sheriff's Deputy we all scheduled to arrive at 1:00. I got there a few minutes early. My job was to take a look at the property, and put on a lockbox with the new key.
The rest of the players arrived, and the deputies entered and cleared the house. There was nobody inside, there were no guns, cash, drugs or other things that needed to be secured. We all walked into the house, and the clean-out crew began to take a few pictures. Very little remained, and most of what was left was piled in the garage. It was first staged to the driveway, then loaded into a trailer for disposal.
While the clean out crew took care of the contents of the house, and removed all of the trash from the yard, I had the opportunity to talk with the Sheriff's Deputies and the owner of the Foreclosure Services company. I already knew that the Atlanta area was near the top of the heap in foreclosures, but it hadn't really sunken in. The service guys are handling as many as 4 houses per day with each of their 4 crews. The Deputies are part of a department that just deals with evictions. This is what all of these other people do all day, every day. And it's getting worse. The Deputies are backlogged, as are the clean out guys. And they are looking at increases over the next few months.
While walking around the house, which was pretty well stripped, I could get clues about the people that lived here. One bedroom was pink, and had a "Little Princess" light switch cover. Another was dark green, but had a lot of small hangers in the closet. There was a small girls bike, and a little boy's bike. Obviously this was a family with a couple of young children. They drove a minivan, and the last seat was still in the garage. Aside from the trash all over the front and back yard, there were plants still in the trays from the store. The house, aside from the previously mentioned junk and a few spots that looked like moving damage, was in pretty good shape. The carpets needed to be replaced, and the house needed to be painted. The landscaping needed to be caught up with, and the outside trim needed to be repainted.
Outside, in the 95* heat of Atlanta, we talked about how a nice family could get to the situation where they would take what they could, and abandon their house. As a REALTOR, I know that there are options. Selling before foreclosure, even if it is a short sale is the last tool in the box, but it is an option. The banks don't want to own the property. Let me repeat that.
Despite what some people believe, the bank does NOT want to own the house. They don't want to foreclose. They don't want the scene that I was a part of this afternoon to be played out. They don't want to spend the money to bring in the cleaning crew, or the locksmith. They don't want to pay a lawyer to file the paperwork to bring the Sheriff's Deputies out there. They don't want their clients belongings to be loaded into a trailer to go to the dump. The Deputies don't want to stand around on a hot day and watch the work going on. They don't want to have to confront someone that has to be evicted. The bank doesn't want to sit on the house for months waiting to sell it at a loss. And, as a REALTOR, I'd rather have two people that are happy the house is changing hands.
If you are in trouble, don't bury your head in the sand. Ask for help. You might have the opportunity to avoid foreclosure. You might be surprised that the people at the bank really don't want to foreclose. But, they need your help, and they need to see a plan.