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Foreclosures: Doing the Right Thing

Today there is an article in the Star Tribune discussing options for homeowners that are underwater.  Today this is a commonly discussed topic and one that shouldn’t be ignored.  The first couple in the article talk about their decision to walk away from their home.  The article discusses their reasoning for walking away and they give some strong reasons why they did.

My problem with this is that these are insanely well educated people that have decided to screw their lender and the rest of us and still believe that they have “acted as responsibly as we could have.”  One is a doctor, the other is an adjunct professor.  One of their reasons is that they “barely change the light bulb in our own house that we are living in, let alone being caretakers of another property.”  So why did you buy a house in the first place?  There are probably 100+ property management companies in the Twin Cities, did you even try calling any of them to discuss the rentability of your home?p

Another of their justifications is that they don’t live on credit and so having a severely damaged credit score is “a small price to pay.”  Small price for them maybe, but not for the rest of us.

While they are now free of the burden of making payments on a house as they contractually agreed to do when they purchased their home, the problems have just started for their lender, their (former) neighbors and the American Taxpayer.  There’s a strong chance that at the end of the day the loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac which means their choice to walk away means that the rest of us will end up paying for their decision.

The foreclosure process in Minnesota is a slow and arduous one, so it may be 6, 9, or even 12 months before the bank takes the home back through the process of foreclosure.  In the mean time, an abandoned home has a much higher risk of vandalism and crime and can also deteriorate quickly if small problems are not fixed.  Further, abandoned homes don’t help the neighbors around them that have decided to honor their obligations or the new neighbors that have come into the neighborhood for the first time.

For many, the circumstances that led them to foreclosure were unforeseen, unavoidable and make foreclosure their only option.  These people have all of my compassion and sympathy. For people who take the foreclosure path simply because it is more convenient for them have my anger.

I don’t mean to imply that this family is doing something illegal but I do claim that what they are doing is immoral.  I would think a doctor and a teacher who most certainly know better would choose to do better.  They are far from the only ones doing this but each person that chooses to do this ends up putting a greater burden on the rest of us who do honor our obligations.

If you or someone you know is facing foreclosure, you should seek FREE counseling from trained housing counselors.  The Minnesota Home Ownership Center is your best place to start.

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This website is a service of Aaron Dickinson of Edina Realty, a broker Participant of the Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, Inc.