What's wrong with walking away from an upside down house?

In a piece for the New York Times, Ron Lieber explains the benefits of walking away from a home you're underwater on: "In an economic environment like this one, however, the consequences of giving up on your mortgage may not be as painful as they were a few years ago.

Yes, it's almost always preferable to negotiate a better deal on your existing mortgage than to walk away. But if you can't work things out with your lender, you probably won't be sued. You shouldn't receive a major tax bill either. And the damage to your credit will not be permanent or insurmountable."

If you're deeply underwater on a home, recent changes to the law have made it easier to walk away -- and avoid making payments on a home you won't have an equity in for at least another decade.