Your Neighbors Are Leaving: What Is Proper Foreclosure Etiquette?


Neighborhoods across America are seeing their landscapes change as a result of foreclosure. With one in 538 U.S. households in March currently in stages of foreclosure, it’s no longer surprising to hear about financial difficulties in your neighborhood, or even on your street. Hit hard by staggering loans, debt, and unemployment, many people are defaulting on home loans and losing not just their homes but their neighbors, too.

In this climate, it can be hard to know what to do to help an individual going through mortgage crisis, which is why MainStreet called etiquette expert Peter Post of the Emily Post Institute. (He’s one of manners maven Emily’s four great-grandchildren.) “Once it’s sort of public knowledge, I think you can be genuinely honest with them,” says Post. “Ask them if there is anything you can do to help.” Below, are some additional dos and don’ts:

DO: Lend a Hand
That might not mean bringing over a hot apple pie, which is a treat that can be a wonderful for a greeting, but not a goodbye. Instead of pie, ask your neighbor, “is there something I can do to help,” says Post. And, before you plan a Krispy Kreme (KKD) run, Post suggests the following ways to assist: On moving day, you can make sandwiches for people to take a break. Or, maybe you can offer an extra set of hands during the move. Also, you can offer to store some of their belongings in your basement.

DON’T: Lend Money
Watching a neighbor lose a home is emotional, but be wary of becoming financially involved. “It’s not your job to save them from the problem they're in,” says Post. “Let them know you’re concerned for them and you’re not indifferent to the plight they’re in.”

DON’T: Get Political
“I wouldn’t go into political rants about how horrible it is,” says Post. “It’s like rubbing salt in their wound—I think they’re already aware of the situation and how they got into it.” And, if they disagree with your opinion, it can become a personal argument between you two, says Post. Sometimes it’s better to focus on what they’re doing next, and less about the how and the why of what has already taken place.

DO: Realize You May Not Be Able To Help
Just remember, losing a home is a huge event and you should want to be aware of what they want or need. And, the only way to do that is by asking. “I wouldn’t just show up and do,” says Post, “I would ask.” And don’t get emotional if your neighbor doesn’t want any assistance, everyone handles a move differently.

If you want to read more stories related to this topic, then you might be interested in States of Foreclosure, No Subprime Meltdowns in these Towns, and Hearst Heiress Loses Estate.


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