Should I Walk Away from a Mortgage?

Felicia Dye

It is not generally a wise idea to walk away from a mortgage because making the payments is difficult or because you want to do something else. If making your mortgage payments is becoming impossible, before you choose to leave your home, you should make every effort to work through your situation. If you cannot make the payments despite your best efforts, instead of exhausting all of your resources, it may be time to let the property go.

Walking away from a mortgage can have tremendous financial and legal ramifications.
Walking away from a mortgage can have tremendous financial and legal ramifications.

A mortgage is a large responsibility, and like raising a child, the responsibility can span decades. If you are debating whether to walk away from a mortgage simply because you want to do something else with your life or your money, it is probably a terrible idea. You will likely be opening yourself up to both legal and financial ramifications that are avoidable and perhaps more severe than you suspect.

You must also think about the future and the fact that you may want to own a home again someday. You will only be making it more difficult to do so. You will probably be making it more difficult to get many things, such as a car or credit card.

If you feel that it may be necessary to walk away from a mortgage because of an inability to pay, the situation is different. The first thing that you need to realize is that abandonment should be one of your last resorts. Many people fail to consider that even when they walk away from a mortgage and allow foreclosure, they may still be faced with a significant amount of financial responsibility with regard to that property, especially if they live in places that allow deficiency judgments.

If you are having problems making your mortgage payments, try to get help before making an impulsive decision to throw your hands up and surrender. A debt or housing counselor may be able to offer some advice that will help you develop a strategy to keep your home. It is also important to be persistent in trying to reach an agreement with your lender. If the lender is willing to work with you and you can see a possibility of recovering from your financial problems, put forth your best effort.

There are some situations, however, when you may need to think about letting your home go. If you have taken the necessary steps to manage the situation but you simply have inadequate income, it may be time to consider this option. Some people exhaust all of their resources, such as retirement and savings, to get by momentarily when it is obvious that once those funds are gone, the mortgage payments still will not be manageable. You should avoid doing this because it can be a senseless waste of cash that can be put to better use.

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