HUD won't give me keys

17 Replies

I settle on my first HUD foreclosure next Thursday which, other than 2-week settlement delay, has gone pretty smoothly I think. That is until I learned today that HUD isn't giving me the keys for the property at closing. They are sighting liability concerns and essentially by not giving me the keys forcing me to rekey or change the locks on the property thereby ensuring some contractor who made a copy can't break in after closing. It seems that this is throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but I get the concept they are going for at least.

However, this makes me scratch my head. Is this a normal HUD policy or just this specific listing agent being strange? If it's normal, how do you more seasoned investors handle this? Is a locksmith charge just a normal charge for every HUD property? Or is this just an agent being strange and not something I should worry about coming up with a process for handling as I won't see it often?

My agency doing the final walk through said I can "carry the key with me" to closing and if I happen to make a stop at a local hardware store who's to know.  Or she said we can just leave the door unlocked for the few hours we are gone.  So hopefully one of them work out.  But other than that, how would you handle the situation?  Any other ideas?


We just purchased a HUD foreclosure and had a similar experience. They had the local guy come out just after closing to meet us there and take the keys and key boxes. I purchased many locks that week as the house has 5 exterior doors.

He didn't have keys for the padlocks on the garage door so I ground those off.

Can you just have the agent meet you there to unlock the door for you.  He keeps the key and you are in.  Bring a new lockset with you and change it out on the spot. 

@Christopher Beene That sounds just like what I'm going to end up with.  They've assured me the padlock on the garage door will be removed, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to get to learn how to cut a lock off.  Good to know (maybe) that it isn't completely coming from left field at least.

@Jim Adrian That was my first fall back, but the agent has pretty much given us a "not my problem" response to that idea.  Also thought about changing the lock during the walkthrough, but my agent is thrilled with that idea since I won't actually own the property at that point.

The real reason they won't give you the keys is if they did, then you could get in to any hud home in your area. Or at last a certain percentage of hud homes in your area.

Here in illinois, there are 3 asset managers that manage hud homes. And every realtor that is licensed to do hud deals has a copy of all 3 keys so they can let their buyers in.

If they were to give you a key, then you would technically have a key that would get you into a significant number of hud homes.  That is the real reason hud won't give keys.

I have done over 40 hud homes over the years and have never gotten a key from them. I just have my contractors drill a hole in the locks and yank them out.

About a year ago, I actually had the listing agent threaten to press charges because I did that and got rid of his lockbox. He tried to say I should not have tampered with the lockbox and that those are hud keys and he was going to report me or my realtor.

I told him to take a flying leap. I gave him a day to get off his butt to get his lockbox and he was too lazy to do it. He knew when the closing was. And that I am not going to leave those existing locks on the doors because every realtor on the planet has the keys to get inside my house.

Once the house closes, everything in the house is mine to do with as I see fit. If that means pitching his lockboxes, then so be it.  To be honest, I normally will just have the contractor set the lockboxes to the side on the porch but when this guy threatened me, he lost that courtesy for good. 

Had another closing on one of his listings 3 weeks ago. Had my realtor send him a reminder that if he wanted his stuff he better get it before the closing or else it was going in the dumpster and he could get dig for it in there.

I had the same issue with my HUD purchase. It was written into the MLS listing, and had to be included in the purchase contract, that I understood that on the day of closing, the listing agent would come to the property with me after the signing and remove the lock. I was to make arrangements to secure the property or take responsibility for an unsecured property.

I always just take the keys with me after the final walkthrough.

I recommend that my buyers swap the locks out the minute closing is done. I can get them in and pull of the padlocks (which I send back to the listing agent). I highly recommend not leaving the HUD locks on your house after you own it. The risk of your asset having the same key as every other HUD house is much higher to you than it is to HUD. Think of every agent/contractor/lookie loo who came into the house in the past 6 months decides they want a second look (Not realizing it was sold).

Personally I check the HUDhomestore site on the day I am going into make sure it is still available, not everyone does though. Most times though by the time closing gets there, someone has broken the handle or a window or a back entryway anyway because they can't figure out how to get in and it is not really secure anymore.

Good luck with your new purchase!

HUD uses the same keys for all their properties. You should ALWAYS change locks after a closing, HUD or otherwise. That's my first task after leaving the closing.

Thanks for all the advice everyone.  It makes me feel better that this is a normal problem and not a one-off kind of thing.  I already have locks ready to install the second I can get into the house after closing.  It's more a problem with getting back in to do that.  Do I just ask the listing agent really nice to drive back to the property?  Can they give the key to my agent to return maybe?  Is there any standard solution here or is it just whatever flys with the parties involved?

@Donald Brinkley Yes, this is normal policy. Don't major in minors. A new lock set at Lowe's is $30. I assume you are still going to make money on this deal.

HUD is can be a bother, but the deals are worthwhile. If the realtor cannot get you in, just break in and replace the door locks. as a general rule, every property had some issues, so tapping out a window pane, or etc. I had one that the backdoor was needing to be replaced, so i used a shoulder and got in. replaced locksets, did a quick patch job on the back door frame that split out. Property is a great rental.

As mentioned above do not worry about the little stuff, always replace locksets as soon as possible.  

Bought 2 HUD homes over the past year. No Keys. Had to drill the locks (VERY easy to do) They were both flips, so I put on new ones.

I'd recommend you do the same.

@Anthony Dooley Yeah I think I can find a few bucks in the budget. ;)

@Matt M. Drilling was my original plan, but as capable as I am, it'll be a first for me.  Could you share how you go about doing it?  Bit size, type, location?  Thanks!

@Donald Brinkley Google "Destructible: how to drill open a standard door lock"  there is a pretty good demo on vimeo.

Can't remember the size, but I just started it where the keyhole is and drilled about the length of the key. Then try and turn the handle. If it doesn't work, then go up a size or two. I did my first this summer, and it was shockingly easy. 

I looked at the destructible that @Amy Webber referenced and it did seem shockingly (and maybe a little scary) easy. Might just be giving that a try. 

Check out Ernie Riddle has a great business and does a fantastic job. 

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