©winnond - freedigitalphotos

©winnond – freedigitalphotos

Usually after a foreclosure and a sheriff sale, homeowners will need to move out of their former property, unless they are willing to run the risk of eviction by the county. However, times seem to be changing, and it may be worthwhile for borrowers to remain in the house even after it has been auctioned. While the danger of being evicted remains, it may be outweighed by the benefits of staying in the house as long as possible.

In his book The Foreclosure Survival Guide, attorney Stephen Elias recommends that families who have gone through the foreclosure process may wish to consider their options of moving out or staying in the home. There are a number of reasons he suggests for doing this, from helping the community maintain property values to having a better chance at financial recovery once the former owners do move out.

Instead of leaving a house in shame, the book suggests that, “When you stay in the house until a new owner is ready to move in, you’ll help maintain its value – and that of your neighbors’ houses.” This, of course, is blatantly obvious to most homeowners who are currently living in areas ravaged by the foreclosure crisis. Abandoned homes become targets for vandals, squatters, drug dealers, and worse.

Property values have also fallen most steeply in areas of the country that have had the most foreclosures. Parts of California, Florida, and the Detroit, Michigan area have become notorious in news stories for foreclosed families, empty houses, stripped properties, rises in crime, and a collapse of home values. If nothing else, foreclosure victims may be able to stay in their home and help defend its value by keeping up on simple maintenance.

Another reason to stay in the house even after losing a home is the fact that every party to a foreclosure has fallen so far behind that it may take months for an eviction to be scheduled in some areas. Banks are behind in initiating foreclosures and turning loans over to attorneys. Law firms are behind in filing the necessary paperwork for each mortgage that comes in. Courts are behind in scheduling hearing for foreclosure. Sheriff’s offices are behind in low-reward activities like evicting people from homes to turn properties into crime havens.

In this economic and legal environment, former homeowners may be able to remain in a house for months while the banks, attorneys, and local governments work their way through all of the foreclosures in the system. Moving out right away after a sheriff sale creates less work for the banks while simultaneously increasing the potential for crime in the neighborhood and draining crime-fighting resources and decreasing property values.

Stopping foreclosure is always the most important objective for homeowners, but losing this battle and having their home sold is not the end of the world. In fact, it may not even be the end of their time to live in that particular house. For a number of reasons, as Stephen Elias points out, “what you might not realize is that by staying, you’re doing your neighbors – and probably even the lender or new owner – a favor.”

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