When breaking and entering is legal

Meet 'door-kickers,' tasked with assessing the damage in foreclosure homes that investors have purchased.

By MSN Real Estate partner Jan 9, 2014 9:02AM

By Diana Olick, CNBC


Post begins below video


© Digital VisionIn the trade, they call them, "door-kickers"— employees or contractors for large-scale investors in foreclosed homes. These men, and they are almost always men, break into dozens of houses a day and assess the damage left by former homeowners.


"What we are looking at is to see if there's any plumbing or electrical that has been stolen, any damage to walls," said Kyle Sweet, the renovation team manager for Key Property Services, which bought 130 Atlanta-area homes at auction on Tuesday.


Sweet used a small metal tool to break in through the back door of a Lawrenceville, Ga., home on Regal Way that Key bought for $80,000 at auction.

"This is my master key," he joked.

It was remarkably easy to get in, but that should come as no surprise. Sweet said he has broken into more than 3,000 homes in his career.


Sometimes he checks out the inside first through a doggie door. Other times he is forced to push through basement windows measuring barely 3 feet in width. Sometimes he and his team, which includes a locksmith and an assessor, find serious danger inside.


"The worst danger that you'll have is actually through a squatter, someone that resides inside the property that shouldn't be there in the first place," Sweet said. "Typically a lot of our drivers or assessors will go and actually carry weapons on them."

Coming inside the home on Regal Way, Sweet went first through the garage door and into a huge mess. It opened to a living room and kitchen strewn with debris, garbage and broken toys.


"We still have appliances that are in, they took the stove, they took the microwave, that is not uncommon for our condition," he said.


Often, Sweet will find stolen plumbing and electrical systems, broken ceilings and demolished walls. Sometimes he finds fewer bedrooms or bathrooms than were on the auction notice. In that case, he will just add what he finds necessary.


His company, Key, renovates the homes it buys, finds and installs renters and then sells the homes to other investors as turnkey properties.

"We think that our value-add is to buy properties and get them through the renovation and leasing cycle, because we think we can do that faster with our experience," said Simon Frost, CFO of Key Property Services.


Atlanta is one of the hotter investor markets now, as it is still in the early stages of both investor demand and home-price appreciation. Thousands of properties will be set for auction each month in the greater Atlanta area, and Key is buying hundreds at a time. They are among the smaller investors.

Others, like Blackstone's Invitation Homes, are buying thousands at a time, becoming Atlanta's new landlords, likely for years to come.


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Jan 9, 2014 5:15PM
Well the investors are doing one good service. If there were not investors to buy the homes they would just sit there and go to worse conditions and bring down the value of the whole neighborhood. Atlanta is a very transient city. People always moving in and out all the time as jobs change. Some are lousy home keepers as I have witnessed personally. So just think what The suburbs would look lke if there were no investers buying these homes.They were not the ones who made the people move out. Atlanta would soon look like Detroit.
Jan 9, 2014 4:57PM
people were encouraged to purchase homes that were out of their price range and also to use adjustable mortgages, which were low at that time.  when the rates skyrocketed people could not afford payments and banks foreclosed on them and they were dispossessed .  this is a tragic situation and only the banks and companies like this one made money off of this.  many lives were ruined.
Jan 9, 2014 4:52PM
What is going to happen when he hits the wrong address and gets shot?
Jan 9, 2014 4:19PM
This isn't a fffing sport or some g-damned reality show, idiots.  People's lives have been destroyed and you're making light of it.
Jan 9, 2014 3:58PM

Idiots...ever heard of a lock picking tool..instead of causing MORE damage ...idiots


Jan 9, 2014 2:37PM

Unlike "flippers" during the boom, most of these sales are feeding the new landlord class. As the incomes of the 'haves' and the 'have nots' diverge and the middle class shrinks, we will become like much of the rest of the world, with fairly small numbers of owner-occupied homes, and most people renting. Investors are starting to catch on the fact that you can service a loan and maintain a group of properties from the rent they generate, with profit and tax benefits built-in. Thank you, Fed, for helping with such low interest rates, and the entire Federial Gov't for making sure those with money are back on Easy Street.

I'm not even a millionaire, yet since I went to the stock market sale in April 2009, I've paid off my house, all five of my cars (six if you count the one at my little house in Italy), paid my bills, and yet I'm about where I was financially in 2007. In other words, the policies to benefit the economy, have done it mostly for people like me. Oh - and thanks for the rental hosue.

Jan 9, 2014 1:58PM

if I buy a home and live there, and buy newer upgraded appliances, you bet I will take them with me when I move, whether the move is forced or planned.  No one is obligated to leave appliances, especially a microwave.  Unless it is built in, it belongs to whomever lives there.  These people will next be whining that the evicted family took their television with them.

People who make their living off the misery and misfortune of others are the dregs of society who can make their living no better way, being too dumb and unskilled to do anything else, and then they look down on other people.

Jan 9, 2014 1:45PM
This sounds like the same Flip This House investors that ran up the housing bubble to start with.  We get left with the bill and they start up doing the same thing as soon as they can.
Jan 9, 2014 1:32PM
Well, this people are putting their lives at risk and anyone else's life at risk that they may have to use deadly force against. Is any house worth your life or some one else's life. Just think of the legal hassles' they will face if they shoot an unarmed homeless person. Stupid is as stupid does.
Jan 9, 2014 1:18PM
Most  of these people shouldn't have been buying these homes to start with.  Just because a bank will give you a loan doesn't necessarily mean you can afford it.  If you are one of the people that did this you're a f***ing idiot.  If you lost your job and got screwed that's a different story, but it's still nobobdy's business except your own to take care of yourself.
a very close relative of mine was "underwater" with her home. also had a huge jump in interest rate after being in the home for 6 years. She owed $500,000. She has a great job and was able to pay the mortgage of $3,000 a month. When the payments almost doubled, she and her husband couldn't handle that amount, so tried to negotiate some kind of deal (keeping the interest the same) They negotiated for a year to no avail. Bank wouldn't budge. Went into a short sale, and new people bought the house for $300,000. Bank would have gotten the $500,000 if they only had kept the interest down so the payment would stay around $3,000. Instead, they sold it for the lesser amount. It shows how investors are making huge amounts of profit on the backs of the middle class workers. Makes me sick. Those guys buying homes to flip and make MORE money? Karma will come and bite them on the **** one of these days.
Jan 9, 2014 1:07PM
I wonder what will happen when the smell of foreclosure can not be removed?
Jan 9, 2014 12:56PM

This is Profit Taking!


The families that were forced out of their property / homes by the Banks & Wall Street Thugs after the crash will now be able to "Rent" their homes from "Investors"?


Sounds like Greedy Immoral Behavioral Practices! Legal Theft By Taking Any One!

Jan 9, 2014 12:54PM
Just like corporate owned news to gloss over the misfortunes of the 99%  and make corporate foot soldiers appear to be performing a 'service.'   Banks will foreclose over a short sale 24/7.  They get FULL FDIC payment, fines, fees, write-offs, etc.  Guess where that money comes from?  You and me.  Another fine example of our corporate owned politicians representing 'We the Corporations' rather than 'We the People.'   The unemployment bill is a shining example of that, their government shutdown cost three times what the unemployment bill will cost.  They have voted unanimously again and again, publicly and in 'secret' to give hundreds of billions to the banks and wall street replete with hand slaps for the likes of Jon Corzine, Chase, Sachs, etc. This shows very well that WE have very few in DC that are willing to represent 'We the People' let alone uphold our Constitution.  Billions to NSA for an illegal domestic spying program but no to unemployment, billions to banks but no to a JOBS bill, billions to Blackstone (Cheney) to build the Iraq-Afghan pipeline but NO to body armor for soldiers, 70% of jobs created in the last 4 years are MINIMUM WAGE but these elitists are applauding Wall Street and the Banks.  Sociopaths are the majority in DC.
Jan 9, 2014 12:53PM
What a job if this is your job to do... geez.. lame.
Jan 9, 2014 12:47PM
Thanks for showing people how to break into homes.  Some folks will watch this video and decide to try something new.  Irresponsible reporting...
Jan 9, 2014 12:23PM

Were is Obama? not weighing on this market article !.

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