from the New Mexico News Connection - A statewide news service for New Mexico
Santa Fe – Some New Mexico lenders are aggressively pursuing homeowners who deliberately let their mortgages fall into delinquency – but a new survey from the Pew Research Center says in this economy, a growing number of Americans think it's acceptable to stop making house payments in some cases.
At least one in five homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth...and an increasing number think it's okay to walk away from those mortgages. A Pew Research Center survey found about two-thirds of respondents still believe it's unacceptable to stop making house payments - but 36 percent say it makes sense, at least in some cases. Liz Quick, an attorney who counsels homeowners says "walking away" may not be the best idea. Quick says having a lawyer or credit counselor look at the original loan documents may help. "You might end up having issues related to your loan, perhaps predatory lending – or perhaps just a contract that you may need something looked at so you can see if there’s any protection for you."
Quick thinks "walking away" isn't an especially accurate term...that most people try to hang on and keep paying as long as they can, even when bankruptcy or negotiating with creditors would be better options. In the Pew survey, the less secure people felt about their finances and the more their homes had dropped in value, the more likely they were to say it's okay to default on a mortgage.
In her experience, most people don't intend to default on their obligations. Instead, Quick says, they run through their savings to stay current, and often, wait too long to seek help. "You know, educating yourself and getting as much information as you can, as early as you can, is always the best advice."
She has found, in some cases, it is a bank that suggests people stop making house payments...and then drags its feet on making modification arrangements, causing the homeowners to fall farther behind. "Many of the banks who were purportedly considering modifications would actually require folks to be at least two months delinquent on their mortgage, to even be eligible to apply for a modification."
Quick says the federal mortgage modification programs got off to rocky starts, but in her view, they seem to be more responsive now.
The survey, "Walking Away," is at www.pewsocialtrends.org
Eric Mack reporting, firstname.lastname@example.org