After Foreclosure Guide To Housing: It Ain’t Easy

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After short selling my home last year, I faced a pretty big problem:

Where the crap am I gonna sleep?

While I avoided the house going to auction, I lost my place to stay. I was lucky enough to still have an office floor to sleep on, and a car that I stayed in a few times as well.

What about the people?

I keep reading about these billions of dollars getting written off by financial companies. What I don’t hear about so much is what’s happening to all the people involved in these loans gone bad. With thousands of family losing their homes…where are they ending up? (not to mention their pets?)

I had a heck of time finding a place to live after my two month “GAP” in housing. I was really quite frustrated with the process. So, here are a few lessons I learned about creative living situations and finding an apartment after a short sale or foreclosure.

Temporary Housing Solutions

1. Live at your office

If you work in a smaller office building that you have 24 hour access, you can get away with living there for some time. I lived, ate, cooked, for 2 months in an office building. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done.

Tips:

- Join a gym close to the office. You need to be able to shower, shave, and wash up. Join a gym close to the office. It may cost $30 a month, but you must have a place to keep yourself clean. If you have a fear of public showers…well, now is the time to get over it.
- Wake up before anyone arrives at your office. Head to the gym, work out if you’re in the mood, or just shower and get ready for the day. Time this so that you arrive ready to work back at the office. To any outsider it just looks like you arrived after working out at the gym (which is the truth)
- Assuming you are storing your personal items in your car, be sure you have a small camping pad, and blankets or a sleeping bag that you can easily tote from your car to the office without arousing too much suspicion.
- If someone ever comes into the office after hours, make sure you have a computer up and running so that you have a cover story (ie, project deadline tomorrow, working overtime)

Here are some of my posts from when I was living in my office:


2. House Sitting

House Sitting is a great way to have a bed or couch to sleep on without mooching on a friend or family. Plus, you’ll even earn some extra cash while you have a place to stay. I did this for a week after my house sold, and it was a good transition to living simply, and then living in my office.

Tips:

-Post fliers at local colleges, supermarkets, or online at craigslist.
-Have a single page resume with references prepared to send to any potential clients.
-Be a pet-friendly house sitter

3. CouchSurfing.com

This site is not meant for long-term stays, but you could easily go from place to place in a pinch. Just make sure and do the dishes! You’ll want to keep a positive rating to keep utilizing the kind souls here allowing you to crash for free.

4. Stay with friends or family

If you have family you can stay with, this is an obvious first choice. Just be careful about overstaying your welcome. The whole point of these tips is to get you to permanent housing eventually. If you’re staying with a friend or family member, you should be saving money and trying make a plan to deal with your housing situation.

Tips:

-Have a defined move out date. This will motivate you and reassure the person you are staying with.

5. Live in your car

There were a few nights when I was just so beat from a full day that I ended up curling up in a sleeping bag in the backseat of my car. It isn’t the most comfortable solution, but in a pinch, or for a short term solution it works.

Tips:

- When you stay overnight in your car, be sure to do it in different locations each night
- try quiet neighborhoods that are in nicer areas of town.
- make sure to move your car at least once a day so that suspicions aren’t raised.

Finding A Place

Save, Save, Save

While living in my office was a good move financially, after about the 6th week, I started getting a little stircrazy. You need to be saving money for a deposit and first/last on a place to live. A housing gap can be overlooked by a landlord, but you’re going to have to have a deposit plus first and last to counter that gap and your likely low credit score.

Tips:

- If you haven’t sold stuff already, now is the time. You don’t have the money for storage, and if you can’t fit your possessions in your car, you need to simplify.

Once you have enough cash saved up, getting a place can still be incredibly challenging after you’ve lost a home. Why? Because your credit is now in the tank. If you’ve lost your home, or even short sold it, it’s likely, like me, your credit score tanked. One of the biggest items landlords look at is that credit score.

The foreclosure or short sale of your home isn’t exactly the best indicator to a landlord either.

1. Craigslist

With a crappy credit score, but a decent chunk of change, your best bet to find housing is craigslist. Look for individuals (not real estate companies) listing places to rent.

Craiglist also has loads of sub-let ads. If you just need a room to yourself, you can save hundreds of bucks each month by subletting a room in a house, or condo. Individuals on craigslist in the sub-let category are your best bet to avoid a credit check. If you’ve got a job, and cash for a deposit, you should have no problem getting a room.

Another option is looking for cheap condo’s that are up for rent. These are often going to be a private landlord, and with the glut of condos built in the last few years I’d bet you can find some with rents similar to traditional apartments.

Tips:

- If a landlord wants a credit check, explain honestly that your credit is not good, but that you are trying to rebuild it and that you are trying to avoid hard pulls on your credit.

2. Your Church

Most churches have bulletin boards (offline and online ones) where people are always looking for roommates or posting homes/apartments for rent.

Closing The Deal

When you’re looking at places, make sure you’re dressed nicely and cleaned up. Be prepared to talk about your work. If the landlord doesn’t ask where you’ve lived the past month or weeks, don’t feel the need to bring it up. Avoid lying, but you don’t need to spill your life story, or how you’ve been living in your car the past month.

Good luck, I hope you find a place soon! Remember…a place to sleep is important. A bed is nice, but be thankful that you’re alive, and for the people in your life that care about you. Just because you screwed up in the past doesn’t mean you’re a screw-up, it just means your human.

Got a tip?

If you have a creative housing tip or suggestion, feel free to add it in the comments section. I mostly drew from my own experiences here, so I’m sure I missed some good resources.

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  • http://www.thedividendguyblog.com The Dividend Guy

    Just came across your blog – this is an amazing story you have to tell here. That is some crazy debt and a lot to go through being only 24. Congrats on starting the blog and opening yourself up to the blogosphere. Good luck on your journey…

    The Dividend Guy

  • jean

    “Debtkid” pls contact me. I’m interested in your story.

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  • Michelle

    My family and I decided to secure one of those corporate owned condo/apartment (rental only) properties. We filled out rental applications, said that we are selling our house without going into elaborate detail. The did not ask questions either. I was especially nervous about being turned down. They quickly ran our credit check (still top 800′s), verified our income (I was just hired after 3 months of suck pay unemployment), and was approved for a year lease the very next day. We simply used the money we had planned to pay our mortgage BEFORE we missed a single payment – as in we never missed in 3 years!! I really do not feel right about walking away from our house debt, but my unemployment after years of solid work did us in financially. Now that we have secured a great place, we’re moving out within a couple of weeks. I do not feel right about living in our soon to be defaulted home “rent free” pending a foreclosure notice to vacate. I guess my pride is too high for that kind of humiliation. It also sends the bank a strong message, bottom of the bottom, advantage taking of the system sort of person in my opinion. Do not pay, do not stay. We are moving on, taking a unknown credit hit (gulp!), and starting over however the outcome or chips may fall… Yikes. SUPER stressed and a scared about the whole unknown as of now, the unknown future collection caller and karma…On the bright side, with this strategy at minimum can establish a positive rental history despite a ding on our credit report for years to come.. My child will now have plenty of food and comfort in sight and happier parents not so stressed out financially for anyone reading this in judgment! Good luck to anyone facing similar situations – we are in part victims of the lender and housing crash do not ever forget.

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  • Leeann

    I agree with the post made by Michelle. There are also hotels that don’t run your credit. All they need is a bank debt / credit card to stay there. The hotels I know of are Intown suites, Extended Stay of America and really any other hotel will let you stay there for a long period of time without a credit check. Redroof has the lowest weekly rates at around $240,00 a week in my area ..

    This is a very hard position to be in. I wish us all well getting on our feet again..

  • erika

    Just came across this site. I too have wondered about all the people that are going through foreclosure right now. I hear of it happening so much but have yet to meet another person who I know this is happening to as well. We have been trying to sell our home for a year now, even trying to do a short sell with no luck. It is a huge hit to my pride as I never thought we would go through foreclosure. However, we had to move to a new state for job purposes and we cannot afford to pay rent here and our house payment there. My next thing to worry about is that we had refinanced a few months before we moved in order to pay off credit card debt (we did not know we were going to move when we did this). Now we will have to pay taxes on the difference between our original loan and the refinanced part….where on earth do you come up with $5000 when you have bad credit and only make enough money to make ends meet? Well, thanks for reading, had to get this all off my chest!

  • John

    Wow, this hits very close to home. I have just gone through a foreclosure and eviction (the movers were here today to take my stuff to storage). In a couple of hours, I will be telling my parents about it (i know, i am stupid for not letting them know before) and asking them if i can rent out their spare room until i can find more permanent digs. The worst part is, I don’t know if i can take the looks of disappointment on their faces that will let me know i am a failure. I am sitting here now tearing up thinking about it as I type.

  • kg

    So I’m not the only one? Wow. My problem is I have two teenage girls that I have to care for. I’ve done well up until this last year. Because of a series of unfortunate events, (several car wrecks where we weren’t at fault, two blowouts in one week, hosptial bills, medications, payday loans, my smallest child was hit by a car as a pedestrian, ….etc.) The list just goes on and on. I got behind on my house note and now staying with a relative. What’s stupid is I filed Chapter 13 before finding another place to live and now, no one will allow me to live anywhere because of my credit. I make decent money but it does me no good. I can’t very well make my children live in the car or drag them from home to home. What am I going to do?

  • MC

    This is so stressful! I too am going to lose my home to foreclosure. I spoke with a BK attorney and he advised me to file a BK13 along with the foreclosure. But after reading kg’s story, I think I will wait until after the foreclosure to make sure I can lease a home. I have 2 teenagers and need to make sure we have a home to live in. I was just served with a default notice and was completely embarrassed. I have been in the mortgage business for 19 years. I purchased my home in January of 2007 and paid too much. The market collapsed after that. I am now working and have a steady paycheck (of course not making enough to keep my home because who wants to hire a loan officer). Looking back, there were signs, especially being in the business. I just did not realize it would get this bad. A big thanks to debtkid for blogging about his experience and success after such a horrible situation!

  • JNS

    Be sure to ACT EARLY — don't just stay in the house the entire time the foreclosure is going on even though it's "free" — by the end your credit will be shot & you'll have a hard time finding a rental. I suffered a job loss, got behind on my mortgage, and could see the writing on the wall; although I landed a new job, it was much lower pay. Fortunately I still had a small IRA, which I raided & bought an older mobile home and have been living in it for a year now; since the home is paid for (under $4000), my monthly costs are just $350 lot rent + utils, and I am able to keep my pets. Very cheap living. I had to go through a credit check for the lot rent, but once again, I acted very early in the process & was still ok. Sure, you have to put up with the inevitable "trailer trash" jokes, but I feel like it was the best solution for me.The key is ACT EARLY while you still have decent credit and a retirement account to raid; if you don't have a retirement account to raid, still ACT EARLY and find a rental now while you can still pass a credit check. Good luck everyone!

  • Losing it, but not losing sight

    I’m here in this situation because I care more for others than myself. I gave to those I thought needed help. Now I feel as if I’m taking advantage of my new lady friend that is providing me housing or is this part of God’s plan. I’ve lost everything due to my giving nature. I tried for months to keep up with the payments. I had rental property but could not find renters. The job I did have allowed me to make the mortgage payments but nothing else. I was fortunate to live in a corperate apartment for a few months at no harge. Eventually I just gave up. This was no way to live. I did nothing, I only worked to pay the mortgage. I didn’t have auto insurance for 8 months and fell behind four months on the auto loan before I turned it back over to the bank. I’m not sure what is in store for me. I’m unemployed with no vehicle and losing the house. I don’t feel bad because I know there are still some out there worse off than me. I put down $37,000 so it is a value at $156,000 I can only hope someone with desire to have a retirement home in Cherrylog, N. Georgia ( God’s Country) can save me from the horror of a full forclosure. It is a beautiful tract of flat land after the driveway and the view is of a wildlife management area. Help me

  • Debt sucks

    I’ve been fighting my mortgage company for months trying to secure a loan modification. I received noticed in September that I had been approved for a loan mod and to wait for the paperwork. Two months later still no paperwork only a sale notice from the county courthouse. My sale date is Feb. 2, 2010. I’m a single mother still living in the house with my kids. I emailed the bank execs early in November and last week I was “approved” again for a loan mod. I called the negotiator to ask when I will receive the paperwork and her voicemail said she was on vacation for the next 15 days!!! I keep getting the runaround. I’m so tired I decided if I don’t have a loan mod in place by 12/31 I’m going to find someplace else to live. The problem is my credit is so damaged from this foreclosure, medical debt collections (which is why I went into foreclosure) and a bankruptcy when I also attempted and failed at owning rental property. I lost my car to repossesion. Bill collectors call me 20 times a day and I got audited by the state revenue department for the first time in my life and owe them back taxes and penalties. At least I do still have a job. I just feel like I’m burning in debt hell right now. I’m usually very optimistic, but it is taking everything in me not to loose my mind.

  • maryann

    My situation is we have our home in central NY, have it up for sale, no bites on it yet. Moving back to FL at the end of June when the kids get out of school. I’m nervous that it will not sell on time and we surely can not afford rent and keeping up mortgage payments. If the home does not sell we are seriously thinking of walking away. If we leave end of June and do not make mortgage pymts. in May or June to give us some money, when or how long does that take to show up on your credit report for a potential landlord to see? Can some one please answer this, I can not find this information any where. We are not looking to stay in the home for a long period of time, just a couple of months with not making a pymt. so we can afford a place to live. Please help. We also plan on using our income tax
    money to pay off/get current with our credit card debt so that does not show up. My question would be if we stop paying for a couple of months when would it be a good time to start filling out home/apt. applications ???
    Thanks so much :)

  • Eva

    check around at grocery stores,, people often rent out their converted garages to persons for a low price. Also, let us all learn a lesson from this…always pay your rent or mortgage first before anything else because you can always go without food light, heat and clothing. But having a roof over your head is most important. Also, never borrow money out of the equity of your home. Not wise!!!!!

  • T

    Hi. I’ve been reading through your blog. I already know the outcome because I started with the most recent.

    Let me add one more tip.

    If you are living with friends or family and they are gracious enough to let you do so for a year (really tough) then the saving for your f/l & deposit is your next hurdle.

    It can be tough to be diciplined enough not to use that $ in an emergency.

    Just take the responsibility out of your hands.

    Some banks offer what our bank calls a Nest Egg CD. You establish a regular transfer of at least a minimum amount that goes into the CD at least once a month. You can’t touch the money without paying penalties for one year. If you stop your transfer – you cannot restart it – so you don’t want to mess with that either.

    It is your money – you just took the temptation to use it in an emergency away.

    One note – be sure not to overdraw your checking account or miss loan payments where this certificate is held. The bank is within their rights to redeem the cd in order to cover these items and you are still stuck without the money for housing.

  • http://www.ez-lease.net steven lee

    Our Company is designed to give everyone a second chance despite past: Broken Leases, Foreclosures, and Bankruptcies. We are a rental guarantee service. To qualify you must have a job. Once you are signed up each and every month we report to the credit bureaus to help re-establish their credit. We also have a credit repair company that will take it even further. If no one sets up a program to help then folks will never ever get out of this situation. We have seen that when you have bad credit you’re limited to where you are allowed to live with your family. With our service you can live where you want not where you have to. You can go to http://www.ez-lease.net. The economy has effected allot of customers but this is a way to help them get their lives in order again. “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.”
    — Zig Ziglar

  • http://www.ez-lease.net steven lee

    The Apartment complexes are at full capacity so they are very picky when you fill out a credit application. It’s not just foreclosures, but broken leases, evictions, and just bad credit are all effecting everyone from getting into a nice community.. We have seen clients that were denied from situations that happened over 5years ago. Our Company is designed to give everyone a second chance despite past: Broken Leases, Foreclosures, and Bankruptcies. We are a rental guarantee service. To qualify you must have a job. Once you are signed up each and every month we report to the credit bureaus to help re-establish their credit. We also have a credit repair company that will take it even further. If no one sets up a program to help then folks will never ever get out of this situation. We have seen that when you have bad credit you’re limited to where you are allowed to live with your family. With our service you can live where you want not where you have to. You can go to http://www.ez-lease.net. The economy has effected allot of customers but this is a way to help them get their lives in order again. “You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.”
    — Zig Ziglar

  • betsy

    well i read all your ways to live after forclosure but not all that applies to peopsuch as myself, i have no office, i am unemployed and divorce with a pregnant daughter her 7 month old son living with me. i have no car as my ex-husband had it repossed so he didn thave to make payments on mine as he bought a new truck for himself. as far as family or friends, well another story, they all said no, maybe other people have better family or friends not sure, but they all turned me away saying they dont have the room. even though it was temporary. tried every church and organization out there that are suppose to help in such emergencies. none of them could help.
    tried craigslist placing and ad and reading what is out there, still came up short! plus trying to reasure my pregnant daughter that we wont’ be on the street!! find a job plus wonder how i am going to get a car!
    so although you may make it sound easy and it was for you it all worked, it isnt’ that way for everyone.
    i even wrote to muary show, oprah, and extreme home improvement shows, no response to none of them.

  • Suntrustscrewedme

    My family of 4 will be out in the street come June. I got screwed on a loan mod by my bank. I just read everyone’s story and it’s heartbreaking.
    The jews are setting themselves up for another holocaust and it’ll be a real one this time.

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