Having to face the inevitability of moving out after facing foreclosure can be one of the most disappointing and nerve-wracking experiences for homeowners. Especially in states where the time to leave the property is very short, there is a real possibility that foreclosure victims may feel as though they will not have enough time to leave their house before the sheriff shows up to evict them. But the eviction process is entirely set by state law and the courts, and homeowners can receive more time to move out, if necessary.
The actual time frame to eviction will depend on the state foreclosure laws to determine how soon the new owner can start the eviction process. If the laws allow for a redemption period after the sheriff sale, then the homeowners are guaranteed some extra time (from a few days to a year) to stay in the house under state law and not worry about eviction. They can use this time to save money for a security deposit on a new rental, pay down other debt, or find a way to save the current home by paying the redemption amount.
But if the state has no redemption period after the auction, then the eviction process will usually take about 2-4 weeks from the date of the sheriff sale. The high bidder at auction will have to have the sale confirmed with the court, which can take a few days to more than a week. Then, the owner requests that the court order the sheriff to conduct the eviction, which can take another week or two. Finally, the sheriff will schedule the eviction, give the foreclosure victims notice of the coming date, and then remove all of the people and personal items a few days later. This entire process can take as little as two weeks or as long as a couple of months, depending on the speed with which the new owner and government act in concert.
After the eviction is conducted by the county sheriff, the personal property is usually just put in the front lawn, or moved to a county warehouse and put in storage never to be seen again. Good luck getting it back, either way, as it will be almost impossible to regain the personal items. The most likely possibilities that will happen is that neighbors or members of the community will take whatever they want from the pile of items sitting in the front lawn, or the items will go into storage, never to be seen again and no bureaucrat will be able to track them down, despite numerous requests from the former homeowners. Even suing the county to get the property back will usually not work, as the former owners will have to sue the county in county court, where a hearing will be conducted before a county judge.
The best way to avoid either of these scenarios is for the homeowners to move out before the eviction, or request more time to stay in the property. They should call the sheriff’s office or the new owner before the eviction is scheduled and ask for a extra few days to move everything out. The government and new owner can usually hold off on the eviction if the foreclosure victims are in the process of moving, as long as they are not asking for an extra month or longer to live there rent-free. It is easier to give the former owners a few extra days to move out all of their personal items and give up possession of the property peacefully. Otherwise, homes have been known to be severely damaged by foreclosure victims, with stoves and furnaces removed, copper piping sold, or windows broken and doors removed.
In any case, though, the new owner would not be able to charge homeowners a fine directly for moving their old stuff out of the house. We have occasionally witnessed new third-party owners attempting to charge rent or moving expenses to the former homeowners, despite redemption periods or the legal eviction process. But removing all of the people and property from a foreclosed house is the responsibility of the county sheriffs department, which is the one actually evicting the homeowners. They already get paid through property taxes to deal with evictions. Likewise, they would not be able to charge a driver more just because it was a lot of work pulling him over to give him a speeding ticket — they need some justification for charging more, and “too much heavy lifting” isn’t good enough to add more fees on top of the eviction process.
For many former homeowners, finally moving out of a house may feel like admitting a humiliating defeat to the world. Especially if they are forced to move into a smaller house, apartment, or in with family and friends for a while. But getting out of a bad situation with a mortgage company and leaving an expensive house can actually be much more liberating than staying. The lender may not have wanted to work with the owners, and the mortgage may have been tens of thousands of dollars more than the property was worth with an astronomical interest rate. Getting a fresh start and moving on from such a situation can often help homeowners learn some of the most important lessons about credit and living within their means from now on.