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What is Cash For Keys?

The cash for keys strategy to avoid foreclosure has been around for years, but has recently hit the spotlight with the exponential rise in foreclosures. Typically, this strategy is used when a landlord defaults on his mortgage and there are renters still in the home. Under a cash for keys arrangement, the bank makes a deal with the occupants of a home that is about to fall into foreclosure and gives the renters 30 days to leave the home. In return, the bank gives the renters a cash settlement to vacate the property in good condition. Checks can average several thousand dollars. As the market increasingly worsens and lenders have become more desperate, the checks have become larger.

The cash for keys strategy is a huge help for the bank as it saves them thousands of dollars in eviction and clean up costs, and allows them to put the house on the market quickly. It is also often a boost for the occupants or renters of the home who are unable to get their deposit back from the landlord that has fallen behind on the mortgage payments.

There are times when the occupants of the house are the borrowers as opposed to renters. In this circumstance, if the lender is offering cash for keys, it's likely that the foreclosure process has already been completed and the bank is only looking to get the occupants out quickly and peacefully. A similar, peaceful parting of ways called deed in lieu of foreclosure can be initiated by the borrower to avoid the finality of the foreclosure process.

Cash for keys is meant to help the occupants, but there are times when the bank takes it too far. There have been reports of threats being made if the occupants do not agree to go along with the plan. If you have been approached with a cash for keys offer, it is reccommended that you contact an experienced professional or real estate attorney before accepting.