If you’re one of the 4.5 million homeowners who’re upside down in their mortgage – meaning that you owe more than your home is actually worth – you’ve probably toyed with the idea of walking away from it. Well, you’re not alone. Some people are doing more than just thinking about it!
According to CBS News, a growing number of upside down homeowners who can still afford their payments are just walking away, abandoning their homes and mortgages. Financial expert Jill Schlesinger says that these are called “strategic foreclosures,” and they’re legal. Homeowners are doing it because their monthly mortgage payments are at least two or three times more than the comparable rent in the area, and they think they’d be better off leaving their homes – and losing their down payment – because it could give them a chance to get back on track financially. The way they see it, paying $3,000 a month for a mortgage on a house is too much if they can rent a similar home in the same neighborhood for about $1,000. They think they might be better in the long run to walk away because it’ll give them a chance to pay down some other bills and rebuild their nest eggs.
Bankruptcy lawyers say that “strategic foreclosures” could make sense if you’re more than 20% underwater. That basically means if your home is worth $200,000 and you owe $240,000 on it, you might be better off by leaving it. If you’re considering a “strategic foreclosure,” know that it’ll destroy your credit for about seven years and you won’t be able to make any major purchases. However, the right thing to do, instead of walking away, would be to talk to your mortgage company about your other options before you get to that point. Or try HUD.gov for the Department of Housing. They can hook you up with a foreclosure avoidance counselor.