A disturbing trend is emerging in the Short Sale world. In the last two months, I have had locks mysteriously changed on my Destin area Short Sale listings, as well as signs removed, one house was in Gulf Breeze Florida, and the other in Santa Rosa Beach Florida. In both cases, I had lockboxes on the properties. The houses were vacant, with sellers out-of-state. I am certain the mortgage lenders performed the lock changes. In instances where properties may be considered abandoned, the lender may secure the property. The bank’s rights are commonly stated with language as follows, from a standard Freddie Mac mortgage:
9. Protection of Lender’s Interest in the Property and Rights Under this Security Instrument. If …. Borrower has abandoned the Property, then Lender may do and pay for whatever is reasonable or appropriate to protect Lender’s interest in the Property and rights under this Security Instrument, including protecting and/or assessing the value of the Property, and securing and/or repairing the Property…… Securing the Property includes, but is not limited to, entering the Property to make repairs, change locks, replace or board up doors and windows, drain water from pipes, eliminate building or other code violations or dangerous conditions, and have utilities turned on or off. Although Lender may take action under this Section 9, Lender does not have to do so and is not under any duty or obligation to do so. It is agreed that Lender incurs no liability for not taking any or all actions authorized under this Section 9.
In the case of the Santa Rosa Beach property, I had an ACTIVE OFFER working with the lender, Saxon Mortgage. Apparently, the banks’ property preservation departments got a little overzealous, and didn’t bother to call my LARGE telephone number on the SIGN in the front yard. In two other instances, I have had the property preservation companies call me first, and ASK if they could change the locks. When I told them I had the house actively on the market, they backed off. But obviously, this is not always going to be the case. Each lockbox I purchase is $90. My signs are $70. They now have been stolen. Every time this happens, my choices are:
1. Change the locks back at a cost of $100.00, and install another $90 lockbox – for potential loss of $190 (in addition to the $160 in property I’ve already had stolen)
2. Re-install another $70 sign, and risk that, too, being stolen
3.Try to track down the property preservation company by going through endless loops at each bank, and somehow recouping my property and regaining access
4. Removing the listings from the market
In conclusion, Short Sales, touted as the top alternative to foreclosure by the lenders themselves, are being physically prevented BY the lenders themselves.