Identifying personal property left inside or outside of a vacated home in foreclosure can be a very subjective enterprise. Here's the bottom line, we don't want to remove and dispose of anything that the owners could say, "You got rid of some very valuable property of mine."
Even though the homeowners have moved out, they still own the property, and therefore everything on it.
As soon as you arrive at an abandoned/vacated property, you need to take photos of all the debris that is present, and make bids to remove it all. You should divide your photos and bids into up to eight separate categories:
As soon as the property is vacated, the bank will generally approve a bid to move exterior personals that are in the way of a grass cut. You can move them to a patio/deck in the rear of the house. Additionally, your client will usually approve a bid to move exterior personals that in the front of the property, to a place either inside the garage/house, or to the rear of the house.
When the foreclosure process is finally complete, and the homeowners have been given the required legal notice (which varies from state to state), then all the remaining debris, including personals, will be removed.
The reasons for moving, rather than removing, personals seem clear:
One large national bank that is a client of ours describes personals in this way: "Anything that can be used for its intended purpose." This, unfortunately, is not very helpful to those who are trying to identify personals. When it's time to remove personal property, other clients demand that contractors catalog and place a total garage sale value on all that could be deemed personals.
When you have received approval to remove personals — or any debris — do you have to take it to the dump? We've never had a client tell us that we could keep any of the stuff for ourselves, or give it away, or sell it. But then, we've never been told we couldn't, either.
Many times, rather than pay to dump debris, we have given reusable and recyclable items to Goodwill, scrap metal collectors, and people who are checking craigslist for free stuff. Usually we don't have the interest, time, or space to take much stuff home.
In addition to moving personal property, when a property is first vacated, the mortgage companies want hazardous materials removed.