Vacant house

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From a lenders point of view a vacant house is an extreme liability. In fact, many lenders are delaying foreclosure actions even for borrowers who are in default simply because they don't want the risk of leaving a house empty. An empty house is likely to attract vandals. A home that isn't lived in, can quickly fall into disrepair because no one is there to notice small problems before they become very expensive to fix.

In some cases lenders will actually negotiate with people in default in order to make sure that the house is maintained in a proper manner. This means they may allow people to continue living in the house without making payments in exchange for basic maintenance, preventative maintenance keeping the electricity on, making sure the sump pumps are working, and keeping the yard mowed.

Some people take advantage of this in the form of a strategic default. Some people stop paying on their house knowing that the lender will not kick them out for some time. This is considered a strategic default if they actually have the means to continue paying on their mortgage but don't want to because the house is underwater and they will more money on it than what it would bring in the current real estate market.

In some places, thieves have found that empty houses offer a great source of scrap metal and they will strip empty houses of their pipes in order to resell it to a salvage yard.

During the housing crash that started in 2008, Detroit was hit especially hard. In some neighborhoods, neighbors got together to keep vacant houses from looking vacant by taking turns mowing the lawns and keeping the electricity on so there would be lights. This helped preserve the value of their own houses by keeping the neighboring houses from going downhill rapidly.