8 Insane Ways People Destroyed Their Foreclosed Homes

By Karen Nielsen
August 30, 2012

With the foreclosure market what it has been in recent years, we kept hearing horror stories about the insane things people do to their homes when they face eviction.

So we decided to ask: What are the craziest things people have done to destroy their homes?

A hint: Not even the kitchen sink is safe.

Rich Urban of South Florida Investors buys damaged homes and flips them for a profit. He's seen some wacky stuff, and even offered a tenant $500 to leave a property before completely destroying it. (The tenant, who was living rent-free for more than two years after the landlord defaulted on the mortgage, hired a handyman to remove the kitchen cabinets and countertops so he could sell them, and sold the home's appliances on Craigslist. ... He saved a microwave so he could cook.)

Urban recalls another disgruntled homeowner in a gated community in West Palm Beach who threw his front door on the roof and hung a sign inviting squatters. The neighbors were not amused.

But those aren't the craziest things tenants and homeowners have done. Every real estate professional has a horror story, some destructive way homes have been trashed. So we asked them: "What is the worst thing you've seen done to a home?" From around the country,

Realtors and investors weighed in with their best -- or worst -- tales of homeowners gone wild:

1. Shower By Garden Hose

A homeowner in Northern Virginia used a portable fire pit to cook on the hardwood floors and a neighbor's garden hose for water through the window, says David Le, a Redfin real estate agent.

2. Booby-Trapped Doors

Alexis Moore, a broker in El Dorado Hills, Calif., says she's seen unhinged interior doors that fall on whoever touches them. Glass closet doors are rigged the same way so they break when opened, spewing glass all over the room. Ceiling fans hang by wires and are missing screws.

3. Not Even The Kitchen Sink Is Safe

William Golightly of Live Oak, Fla., is seeing granite and Corian countertops removed from upscale homes. Homeowners and vandals also are ripping out kitchen cabinets, faucets and copper plumbing.

4. Congealed Milk, Anyone?

New York associate broker Julie Jacobs has seen refrigerators stocked with food, then turned off so it can rot. The worst is dog poop, dirty diapers and trash left on purpose.

5. More Garden-Hose Tales

One homeowner put a garden hose through the ceiling and left it running for days, says Karyn Anjali Glubis, a broker associate in Tampa Bay.

6. Honey, Have You Seen The AC?

Broker Clarence Ford says vandals usually steal HVAC units, furnaces and plumbing in high crime areas in Chicago, leaving holes in the walls and gang graffiti to mark their territory. Candy Miles-Croker says one of her Maryland properties was missing a furnace and when her client inspected the electrical panel, he found cut wires. Another broker reported air-conditioning compressors trashed or parts deliberately removed so they're not operable.

7. Hey, Buddy, You Want To Buy A Baseboard For Cheap?

The owner of a $5 million home in Paradise Valley in Phoenix fell on hard times. After two years, the bank foreclosed on him. A night or two before the foreclosure sale, he packed up the house and took more than $1 million worth of items, including baseboards and crown molding.

8. A New Twist On Stopped-Up Plumbing

One Texas man was so mad at the bank for foreclosing that he dumped concrete down the drains, punched holes in the walls and pulled the porch down with his truck. The house was in such poor condition, the city ripped it down, says Regina Stockwell of VIP Realty.

The Investing Answer: Get the skinny via the inspection report before pouncing on a low-priced foreclosure. Most badly damaged foreclosures are better left to investors who are used to dealing with these properties.