Some homeowners facing foreclosure opt to remove and sell everything from the home, including the kitchen sink. Stripping a foreclosure can have serious consequences. You may be charged by the lender or even prosecuted for vandalism. Homeowners have the right to take personal property and certain appliances. It is important to understand what you are allowed to safely remove and sell from a home in foreclosure.
Fixtures can never be taken from the home. A fixture is defined as anything firmly attached into place. It can be difficult to distinguish between a fixture and an appliance. When trying to decide if an item is a fixture, ask yourself if it can easily be removed. A refrigerator is classified as an appliance since it is simply plugged in and can be removed without disrupting the home. Items that are necessary to make the home suitable for living are considered fixtures. For instance, stoves, built-in dishwashers, cabinets, sinks, ceiling fans, door knobs and air conditioning units fall into the category of fixtures.
You are allowed to remove and sell your appliances. Unless your mortgage documents specify otherwise, the appliances are yours to keep. Some homeowners confuse the meaning of appliances and fixtures. If the item is not attached, it can be taken. Refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, washing machines and dryers are appliances. If you install an item, such as an alarm system or intercom, it is not considered an appliance since it is attached to the wall.
Stripping the property lowers the sale price. If your lender pursues a deficiency judgment for the difference between the price the home sells for and the amount you owe, you will be forced to pay. Your lender may even file vandalism charges against you. Even if your lender does not go after you, the insurance company may prosecute you for damaging the property and stealing appliances.
Explore all options to save your home from foreclosure. A loan modification or forbearance can provide you the relief you need to get back on track. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be used to reduce your debt and potentially lower your payment.
If you cannot keep your home and recently upgraded your fixtures, consider placing the originals back in the home. For instance, if you spent a large amount of money on renovating the kitchen, it may be worth it to replace the countertops or cabinets with fixtures equivalent to what was in the home at the time of purchase.
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