And I blame people like Brent T. White (who sounds like your typical liberal professor) who urged people to walk away from their loans if they owed more than the house was worth in the market at the time. That's classic liberal contempt for personal responsibility with the call to just go ahead and let others pay for one's bad decisions. The fact that homeowners DID walk away in droves when they could actually afford to make their mortgage payments was contemptible. They stuck everyone else with their bad debts and in the end, the entire global economy paid for it.Nearly a year after the Obama administration unveiled its ambitious housing rescue program, foreclosure tallies continue to break records. Foreclosure filings were reported on more than 2.8 million properties in 2009, up 21 percent from the previous year and 120 percent from 2007, according to RealtyTrac. With nearly 10 percent of mortgages now delinquent--which is also a new record--even more homeowners appear headed for foreclosure this year. "A massive supply of delinquent loans continues to loom over the housing market," RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio said in a statement. "Many of those delinquencies will end up in the foreclosure process in 2010 and beyond."
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Homeowners have found themselves in foreclosure for a number of reasons. Some purchased properties they could never really afford. Others lost their jobs--the national unemployment rate remains in the double digits--and had no way to make mortgage payments. But as the crisis rumbles forward, an additional driver of home foreclosures has become clear: Many borrowers have the means to keep paying the mortgage but are simply walking away because they believe it's best for their finances.
The number of so called "strategic defaults" more than doubled, to 588,000, from 2007 to 2008, according to a study by Experian and Oliver Wyman. A separate 2009 survey found that more than a quarter of all existing defaults were strategic. Meanwhile, a growing number of academics are touting the financial benefits of walking away. "Homeowners should be walking away in droves," Brent T. White, a University of Arizona law school professor, said in a recent paper. "The financial costs of foreclosure, while not insignificant, are minimal compared to the financial benefit of strategic default."