Walking Away Becoming Less Taboo

We’ve been talking about the pragmatic component of strategically walking away from your mortgage for some time now. For a while, there was a typical double standard where it was OK for large developers to default because it was the sound financial thing to do, as was the case with Manhattan’s Cooper Village and not OK for individual homeowners who have seen their equity vanish, drowning in underwater mortgages. Even Fannie Mae began to hold the borrower who had walked way accountable for costs related to getting a house back on the market.

Looks like now, mired in a severe and protracted economic downturn, walking away is not the taboo it once was. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 36 percent of Americans said it is acceptable to stop making mortgage payments, even if it is affordable. Naturally, the answers of those polled could be linked to how they fared during the recession, but it’s of particular note that what was once labeled as “immoral” is now, slowly becoming something a bit more acceptable.

Matthew Brian Hersh served as senior editor at Shelterforce from March 2008 to October 2012. He studied English at Rutgers University and has spent his professional career in journalism, policy, and politics.


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