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What is "Keys for Cash" in Foreclosure

Aug 18, 2008
The term "keys for cash" in foreclosure is common in two situations. The first place it is often used is when a lender agrees to a short sale and the homeowner needs get-away money to leave the property.

Most often the investor buying the property will explain that the lender will not allow any funds to go to the homeowner at the closing of the sale. He will go on to explain that he, the investor, will help the homeowner by buying his furniture or "antiques' and the lender will never be the wiser.

Unfortunately for the homeowner and the investor and transfer of funds "off" or "outside" the HUD-1 closing statement is actually bank fraud.

I can almost hear real estate gurus screaming and turning in their graves as I write this! However, the reality is that both parties are a part of a banking fraud by exchanging any type of "good and valuable consideration" off of or outside the closing statement (HUD-1).

Sometimes attorneys will even allow a small check to go "off the HUD" if it is less that some arbitrary $1,000 or $2,000, however, it is still bank fraud in the eyes of the law.

If a homeowner is cooperating in doing a short sale, he has presented the lender with a "hardship letter" explaining his personal situation and it is the responsibility of the person doing the short sale to ask the lender for a "keys for cash" payment to the homeowner.

This is simply where the lender agrees to a small ($1,000 - $1,500) payment that is listed on the HUD-1 for an agreement that the homeowner will leave the property in "broom swept" condition and leave all the major appliances in the property.

The attorney for the closing can hold the funds in escrow until an appointed trustworthy person goes after the closing and checks the property.

The second type of keys for cash program is where a homeowner has refinanced his property within the past three years and goes into foreclosure.

However, in this case the homeowner has a forensic mortgage analysis done and it is determined that a Truth-in-Lending Act (T.I.L.A.) violation has occurred. This is a serious Federal law violation that requires the lender to give back all the payments made by the homeowner to the lender.

Yes, it means that the lender will not only be not foreclosing, but he will be paying the homeowner back all his mortgage payments.

TILA is a viable defense to a mortgage foreclosure if the homeowner has refinanced in the past three years and certain disclosures or APR calculations were done incorrectly.

If a homeowner qualified for the TILA defense, he can expect to stop making mortgage payments and not go into foreclosure and eventually get all his mortgage payments refunded.

In actuality, most lenders have offered the homeowner a "keys for cash" to buyout the homeowner rather that lose the mortgage note being deemed invalid.

So you have seen two very diverse ways that lenders will pay homeowners to leave their homes to facilitate the lender getting control of the property in better condition or so as not to lose the entire principal amount of the loan in an extended court battle that they can't win.

The root of the TILA problem is first the improper disclosure or material facts to the borrower, and the last minute changes that the closing agent makes without re-calculating the APR using the new HUD-1 closing costs.
About the Author
Dave Dinkel
has over 33 years experience in real estate investing which has given him a
unique perspective into the real estate market. Dave is the author of the
best-selling e-courses http://www.FSBOAutoPilot.com
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