Do not EVER use the words “Strategic Default” in my presence
…I just wanted to put up those articles (from The Consumerist, all relatively recent), and weigh in with my Hi-I-Was-A-Foreclosure-Prevention-Counselor-In-Recession-Central opinion…mostly because I would feel really bad if I left the field (which I have) without ever saying it really, really loudly:
THE MAJORITY OF FORECLOSURES COULD HAVE BEEN EASILY PREVENTED BY THE BANKS MAKING EVEN A TINY AMOUNT OF EFFORT TO STOP THEM.
THAT EFFORT IS NOT THERE. FROM ANY OF THE BIG, BAILED-OUT BANKS. STORIES LIKE THE ONES ABOVE ARE THE NORM, AND LAZY OR SHADY HOMEOWNERS WALKING AWAY IS ALMOST 100% A BANK-CREATED FICTION. (Please don't be surprised that huge mega-banks can influence the media in this country. I will have to punch you.)
DO YOUR PART and STOP HELPING TO SPREAD THE LIES. THE BANKS CAUSED THIS PROBLEM BY ALLOWING THEIR OWN PROFESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES TO SELL UNSUSTAINABLE LOANS, AND THEY ARE PERPETUATING IT BY FAILING TO TAKE EVEN THE MOST BASIC STEPS TO TRY AND HELP HONEST FAMILIES WHO WANT TO PAY (often who want to pay on exorbitant terms that they really should walk away from) MAKE REASONABLE MODIFICATIONS TO THEIR LOANS.
I saw it; hundreds of times. I met maybe five–maybe?–actually stupid homeowners, and one shady jerk, in three years of counseling; but I lost track of the number of times I personally witnessed:
- banks telling people they needed to miss payments before they could receive help; then foreclosing once the payments were missed;
- banks setting deadlines and then forcing people to miss them, and then foreclosing;
- banks "losing" paperwork over and over again, and refusing to extend deadlines because of it;
- banks offering "help" in the form of a modification that raised the homeowner's payments, often also making their loan terms worse (and how many sad, sad times homeowners accepted that modification, assuming that since they'd asked for help, they'd get it, and not wanting to be "rude" by reading the fine print and demanding a better deal) — and then foreclosing if the modification isn't accepted, or if it is and the new, higher payments can't be made.
I'm counting on you, Internet. Don't let this whole foreclosure mess go down in history as a problem with consumers: That was NEVER true.
(Bonus Happy Link: Americans for Fairness in Lending)