Here's another article on the skeleton in the closet.The strategic default, or a voluntary foreclosure, and is fast becoming a major challenge to the government’s $75 billion effort to keep distressed borrowers in their homes. Walking away from a mortgage is serious business – it can knock 100 points off your credit score and make you ineligible for a new mortgage for seven years. Yet, about 588,000 borrowers walked away from homes last year, double the number in 2007, according to a recent study by credit-scoring firm Experian and management consultants Oliver Wyman.
While home prices are rising, the increases pale compared with overall drops in home prices since 2005 that threaten to push millions more homeowners into Sakson’s predicament, owing more than their homes are worth and seeing little chance of rebuilding equity soon.
More will walk away, which will hamper the housing recovery, reinforce lenders’ tight credit policies and drag on the economy’s recovery, economists say. “It’s increasingly a more important factor driving the foreclosure crisis,” says Mark Zandi, of Moody’s Economy.com.
“As we move forward, the job market will stabilize, and the big thing will be strategic defaults. People are going to determine it doesn’t make financial sense to hold on to their homes. That’s going to be a significant problem. Strategic defaults mean foreclosures could be high for a long time.”
It’s not just economists who are concerned about strategic defaults. The mortgage unit of Citigroup says one in five borrowers who defaults does so willingly, even though they’re able to pay the mortgage. “It’s a very large number, and it’s a very, very significant risk to the housing recovery,” says Sanjiv Das, CEO of CitiMortgage, adding that new government programs to curb strategic defaults may be needed.
Mr. & Mrs. Seller, are you aware of the skeleton in the closet?