Personal safety when looking at repo's - Posted by Jeff-oh

Posted by Louis P. on February 18, 2006 at 08:02:36:

Hi Bobbie,
Ive been an insurance agent for 25+ years.
Whenever I yell "Insuarance Agent!"
They’ll always hide. But ya’ know since Im a good agent
I always find them…(smile ) Ooops, Ive given away a key to my success! Lou

Personal safety when looking at repo’s - Posted by Jeff-oh

Posted by Jeff-oh on February 17, 2006 at 11:25:35:

The other day I went shopping for homes. I was visiting various homes on the Repo list. Bank’s sign was in the window. I used my universal key to enter and look around. I found a home I was interested in so I called the park about it to fine the lot rent details.

Her: You went into that home???

Me: Yea, it’s on the bank’s repo list.

Her: But there is someone living in that home, that’s why the electric is on.

Me: Does the bank know about this?

Her: No they’re just living there.

Me: And are they paying lot rent?

Her: Yea (a little tentative)

I love this business… That PM has the cahonas to tell me $4000 is due in back lot rent, yet is collecting from a squatter. The fact that she even allows a squatter will tell you the condition of this park… it is a real GEM.

Karl, you know the home and the park.

This leads me to the question, have any of you run into someone at repo that was not supposed to be there? I always just opened the door and went on in, now I definitely will knock first. May even consider getting a concealed carry permit.

What steps do you take for your own personal safety? This little incident got me thinking.


Re: Personal safety when looking at repo’s - Posted by Steve (IN)

Posted by Steve (IN) on February 25, 2006 at 08:29:05:

Let me take a guess at which park it is. Green Acres MHP??? What a gem.

Re: Personal safety and breaking into repos - Posted by Karl (Oh)

Posted by Karl (Oh) on February 17, 2006 at 23:32:00:


First, to answer your personal safety question. When I go into bank repo homes, I always have either my bid maglite or a crowbar in my hand. I’m not interested in hitting anyone with either, but if someone is in the home, I just want to have something to point at them as I quickly back out the door. I usually yell “HELLO!” a couple times, so I don’t surprise anyone that might be in the home. I walk through the home quickly and check closets and bathrooms to see if anyone is there. Then I put down my “weapon”, and start my review of the home. I wouldn’t want to carry a firearm, because I would probably just end up accidently shooting you when you came to look at the same home 5 minutes behind me.

As we all know, you can’t always tell the difference between a home that’s being lived in and a home that’s been turned upside down after a repo. A home knee deep in trash doesn’t mean that a family isn’t living happily in that home. I’ve walked into homes that were “obviously” vacated, only to find someone living there. One time a guy was sleeping on a couch, and I foolishly tried to wake him up to ask him who he was. I couldn’t wake him, so I took my pictures and left. Another time, I found a woman hiding in a closet. She thought I was the bank coming to kick her out of “her home” again.

When I show up at a home, I pull up in a pickup truck, get out a clipboard, have a camera in hand, a couple screwdrives and a cordless drill, and a measuring wheel. I pull open the skirting and measure the frame, check for axles and the tongue. I stand out in the street and take pictures. I basically just act like I own the home. I purposely make a little production out of it, I want to look like the bank field rep to any park employees or nosey neighbors. If a neighbor sees me, they usually ask “are you with the bank?”. If the cops were to show up, (and it hasn’t happened ever in six years), I’m confident I could explain my presence in the home. And I know I could get the right person on the phone, if need be, to vouch for me.

I always stop at the home to look it over first, before talking to the PM. Many times I’ve bought homes that a park was also bidding on, or hoping to get for free for back lot rent, or I was hoping to flip the home to, etc, so I don’t want to give up any competitive advantage by alerting the PM that I’m looking at the home until I’m ready. If I take a quick look at a home and its a total dog, I don’t want to waste an hour schmoozing with a PM for no reason. So I never stop at the park office first.

Here’s my opinion on breaking into repos. Bottom line, these banks just want to sell their homes. They’re sending me a list of their repos and asking me to put in bids. They know that I can’t bid on a home that I haven’t looked at. They’ve never asked me how I’m getting in any of their homes. I have several master keys that sometimes work, but usually I’m popping the lock with a long thin screwdriver, or climbing in a window. Based on the condition of most of the doors jambs, so is everyone else. The banks understand that a lot of buyers are going in and out of these homes when no key is readily available. They don’t care about that at all, they just want to sell the home.

Perhaps this isn’t the correct legal way to look at bank repos. But its the only way I know to look at a lot of repos in a short amount of time. And in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, this is the generally excepted method used by most of the investors I know.

By the way, I just bought that home that you originally referred to. The squatter is gone, utilities are off, and we just winterized the home. Its going to be 10 degrees tomorrow night. Now I just have to try to do something about that $4k lot rent bill so we can move it out!

Karl Kleiner

Yes! - Posted by TeddyB_SC

Posted by TeddyB_SC on February 17, 2006 at 22:33:07:

Twice. The first time, I pulled up to a home and the people came and stood in the doorway. Oakwood had it as a repo. I called Oakwood and they told me that the people filed bankruptcy at the last minute, thus they(Oakwood) didn’t own it yet(even though they had it listed).

The second time I was actually walking around inside the home and realized something just wasn’t right. I hauled butt out there and called Oakwood and what do you know, another bankruptcy that Oakwood didn’t quite own yet.

Before I enter a repo I always check to see if the electric is on, then I look in every window to see if there is squatter. I usually carry a clipboard and make notes while I walk around the outside, giving the neighbors the impression that I am there for business. Then I knock loudly on the door and if no answer, I enter and announce my presence, and announce my presence, and announce my presence.

I carry a gun everyday at work and have no plans to carry one while looking at repos. Now a knife, well that’s another a story.


Re: Personal safety when looking at repo’s - Posted by Bill-NW Ohio

Posted by Bill-NW Ohio on February 17, 2006 at 15:37:46:

New here, so what is a “universal key”? Is it what I think it is…made of plastic?


Re: Personal safety when looking at repo’s - Posted by Tony Colella

Posted by Tony Colella on February 17, 2006 at 13:08:53:

Much of the safety issue can be resolved by looking before we leap.

For instance, it might be wise to stop in the park managers office and chat for a bit before breaking into a repo home. At least they will know why you are in there and not some burglar.

I am not against anyone having a concealed weapon permit but let’s just revisit your scenario.

You break in using your “universal key” without telling the pm. You encounter a squatter who thinks you are breaking into their home and reacts aggessively. You draw and fire, maiming or killing this guy in his own home.

Or you break in using your universal key and the home is vacant. Yet a neighbor sees you, a stranger, breaking into the home and calls the police. They show up and you are found in the home with a gun on.

Police get very tense when encountering people with guns and will prone you out, cuff you, take the gun off of you and then figure out if you have a permit afterwards.

You may still be arrested for the universal key approach.

Why risk all this. Drive by, peek in the windows and see if the home is worth further investigation. If so, drop in the park managers office for a chat and let them know you are thinking of buying the home. Ask about the lot rent etc. and then mention you will be heading over to take a look.

Just my 2 cents.

I spent 11 years as a police officer before going into this game full time and can assure you that the police reponse and reactions described are quite possible.

Just don’t want anyone getting hurt, especially when they aren’t doing anything wrong but get caught up in a bad situation.


Re: Personal safety when looking at repo’s - Posted by osupsycho (OK)

Posted by osupsycho (OK) on February 17, 2006 at 12:04:19:

Well for me the only safety concerns I have had is a little bug spray for the fleas and watching where I step (have fallen through more than once). Other than that there was the land home repo that had a pack of about 30 mean neighbor dogs come out and greet my truck. I thought it was questionable before that and just turned the truck around as they didn’t look happy to see me.

But you bring up a good point that I will have to keep in mind in the future. I have thought about the conceal carry thing already and may have to look into that.

BTW are you planning on moving that home if you get it since it seems to be in a less than ideal place?


Re: Personal safety when looking at repo’s - Posted by Jeff-oh

Posted by Jeff-oh on February 17, 2006 at 15:43:53:


I said nothing about breaking in. That was your assumption.

Ignorance of the law is no defense - Posted by Tony Colella

Posted by Tony Colella on February 17, 2006 at 20:14:24:

Jeff, I was by no means attempting to vilify or insult you, just trying to foreworn you while answering your questions. I did not assume anything. You have assumed a lot that places only you in jeopardy, but since you asked I felt it worth pointing out.

If you prefer to ignore my interpretation so be it. But the advice is legally accurate despite your assumptions. Get mad at me if you like but what I wrote won?t lead you down a dangerous path.

Breaking and entering is a legal term defined by the state and interpreted by the state and local courts. It is more conservative than you may believe. For example, in some states you need only ?break the plain? of the door at night to be considered ?breaking and entering.? That means you simply walk through an open door at night and you are viewed by the law as a burglar. Felony conviction, prima facia evicence. Arguable? Perhaps but I was simply trying to keep you out of a position to have to pay an attorney to present such an argument on your behalf (never cheap).

Let?s go further. Your ?universal key.? Unless you have the expressed authority to be in the property, your ?universal key? is consider a burglarious tool. Also a felony offense. This may be a credit card you slid in the door, a screw driver, a butter knife, etc. that gained you entry into the home without authority and/or the actual key given to you by someone in authority to do so.

All I said was, stop by the park managers office first so people know who you are, why your there and what you are doing. Heck, if you decide to make an offer on the place, all that would have been done at some point anyways.

I was simply trying to help you and others understand the legal concerns that your initial safety concern also present. For what it is worth, I have personally arrested and convicted people if similar offenses (they were not simple “lonnie dealers” but their actions were not much different). You and I understand that your intent was not criminal but your actions may place you in a perilous situation which could place you in a criminal category. Do I think what your doing is criminal? No. Absolutely not.

But you were the one who posted a question regarding personal safety when entering repo homes in mobile home parks. I gave you both legal and safety advice.

If that is upsetting to you, so be it. Go get your gun and roll the dice. The first rule of investing is to do things in such a manner that the odds of success are in your favor. That is the advice I gave you. Ignore it if you like but the post is accurate. The advice addresses your question and then some. If you want a gun, then why not get your gun, AND follow the advice?


“breaking in” - Posted by Lin (NC)

Posted by Lin (NC) on February 17, 2006 at 16:58:57:

I don’t think there’s anything to be defensive about. The fact is that quite a few of the rest of us do not have explicit permission to enter many of the properties that we enter. We only need 20 minutes to look around. Hunting down the “proper” key or meeting an agent or representative at a property is a waste of everybody’s time in most cases.

Maybe Tony’s comments don’t pertain to you, but they are useful to plenty of us who regularly enter homes we think are vacant.

Just my thoughts.


Re: Ignorance of the law is no defense - Posted by bruce berger

Posted by bruce berger on February 17, 2006 at 21:22:17:

While I agree with Tony in his excellent law enforcement analysis of Jeff’s actions, research of Ohio Revised Code indicates that Jeff would not be prosecuted for a felony B&E because Ohio still follows the common law rule that the B&E must occur with a simultaneous intent to commit a crime (e.g. theft, rape, assault)once inside the structure.Jeff had no such intent upon entering the structure.
Tony is correct that the mere opening of a door without permission of the occupant (includes squatter by consent as in this case)is considered a “breaking” when you don’t have permission to open and enter. However, 2911.21 indicates Jeff may have committed a trespass(misdemeanor)and the DA would determine if he should have known there was someone living there and if the card/key, as Tony points out,is an indicator that Jeff entered by stealth. Trespass does not require the same intent as B&E.
Under Jeff’s facts, most police officers responding to this call by a neighbor or PM and finding Jeff inside or coming out would, without question, arrest him for either B&E or trespass and let the DA make the final decision months later and about $5000 (bond and defense counsel)out- of- pocket. OUCH!!!
Regarding the firearm, if Jeff is caught inside with a piece, aggravating factors occur and elevate his actions to a first degree felony if they can prove intent. Although they can’t, that felony arrest and bond could set him back $10-20K. OUCH AGAIN!!!
Take Tony and Lin’s advice-- talk to the PM or someone who has authority to let you inside. Otherwise, DON’T DO IT.
Finally, carding a door(of any structure), even without intent to commit a crime inside, MAY (depending on case law) invite the requisite intent for a B&E and /or invite a companion charge of possession of burglary tools, also a felony. Now the cost of bond + counsel can exceed $20K. OUCH AGAAAIIIIN!!!
A hard-ass prosecutor can make your life miserable and expensive. I know, I was one.
Jeff unwittingly dodged a bullet (pun) this time.

good comment, I agree. nt - Posted by jp(sc)

Posted by jp(sc) on February 17, 2006 at 17:31:25:


Re: good comment, I agree. nt - Posted by Bobbie

Posted by Bobbie on February 17, 2006 at 21:16:32:

Hi All,

When we enter a vacant home, we always – without fail – announce loudly – Insurance Agent!! Hello, anybody home, Insurance Agent. This way it is non-threatening to anyone who might be in the home.

We have never encountered someone in a vacant home, but you never know.

I truly appreciate your advice and comments Tony on this subject. I am 100% with you. Your comments were honest and true. My son is a police officer and he is the one who suggested we use Insurance Agent to announce ourselves.

Happy day,
Bobbie :slight_smile: