Walking Away

The LA Times reports on a troubling trend. People with good credit who simply walk away from their mortgages:

* The number of strategic defaults is far beyond most industry estimates — 588,000 nationwide during 2008, more than double the total in 2007. They represented 18% of all serious delinquencies that extended for more than 60 days in last year’s fourth quarter.

* Strategic defaulters often go straight from perfect payment histories to no mortgage payments at all. This is in stark contrast with most financially distressed borrowers, who try to keep paying on their mortgage even after they’ve fallen behind on other accounts.

* Strategic defaults are heavily concentrated in negative-equity markets where home values zoomed during the boom and have cratered since 2006. In California last year, the number of strategic defaults was 68 times higher than it was in 2005. In Florida it was 46 times higher. In most other parts of the country, defaults were about nine times higher in 2008 than in 2005.

Do go read the entire article.

Didn’t General Motors and Chrysler just do this very same thing with the full assistance of the Obama administration? They walked away from securitized obligations with the full cooperation of the government.

Be careful of the lessons you teach.

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