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Cash for Keys

The Bank Might Pay Cash to Get the Tenant to Move

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hand holding set of house keys

Banks Often Pay Homeowners to Move

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Two of the biggest problems banks face when taking back a home in foreclosure are the condition of the home and getting rid of its occupants. This is why cash for keys is a quick and easy solution for many banks. Cash for keys is a term that had been kept under wraps by the banks for years, but the subprime mortgage meltdown of 2007 -- which led to an onslaught of foreclosures -- forced many banks to initiate a cash for keys policy as standard procedure.

What is Cash For Keys?

Cash for keys is a way for homeowners in foreclosure -- or for tenants who are victims of foreclosure -- to receive cash in exchange for surrendering the keys and vacating. Banks generally reach an agreement with the occupants of a foreclosed home, which stipulates the home will be left in good condition and cleaned. The agreements typically set forth a specific date that the home will be left vacant, including a promise from the occupants that they will not:

Why Banks Pay Cash for Keys

Although banks are not in the business of owning property, once they get title to the home through foreclosure proceedings, the bank is now responsible for the home. If the bank has to spend a ton of money to repair damage caused by the occupants, that money increases the bank's loss.

It can also cost thousands of dollars to evict a homeowner or tenant. It's also time consuming to go to court.

How Much Do Banks Pay to Exchange Cash for Keys?

The sum is negotiable. Banks typically do not automatically offer cash for keys unless the occupant first approaches the subject. To move out, these are reasonable expenses you may expect to recover:

  • A security deposit and first / last month's rent

  • Movers

  • Rental truck

  • Utility deposits

  • Temporary living quarters such as a motel

Sometimes, if the occupant agrees to an immediate move out, banks might pay a bonus.

Do not try to extort the bank or the offer might be withdrawn. Be pleasant, courteous and reasonable, and you could get lucky by receiving cash to leave the premises.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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