Monday, April 21, 2008


There aren't really any numbers, just anecdotes, to back up the idea that this is actually a trend. Still it's a perfectly sensible thing for many people to do.

Instead of mailing in their monthly mortgage payment, a growing number of homeowners are sending lenders their keys.

The mortgage industry is struggling to estimate how many homes are going into foreclosure because of people who don't want to pay, rather than because of people who can't afford to pay.


Real-estate agents are hearing it more often from people who can't sell. Mortgage lenders are reporting getting more jingle mail, and now there are businesses advising homeowners how to walk away.

"Even if someone put 5 to 10 percent down but bought in the Valley during '05 or '06, they are likely upside down now," said Brett Barry of the north Phoenix office of Realty Executives. "I don't advise people to walk away, but how do you convince someone to keep paying when they owe so much more than their home is worth? They can't sell, and their lender isn't going to forgive $100,000 in principal. It's not good."

Investors started the walk-away trend, but it has spread to the typical homeowner.

Also, there's a pretty big gray area between "don't want to pay" and "can't pay." There are people who are fairly financially sound but who need to move. If the bank won't accept a short sale, they're either stuck or they're going to mail in the keys.