Walk Away From Your Mortgage: A Good New Beginning?


Christy Annis, who lives in a condo in the Atlanta area, got her law degree and spent 12 years in corporate America. She lost her job in June 2009 and decided it was time to reinvent her life by starting a business that packages black-eyed peas and makes jewelry. Her decision to make a major life change is not unusual. But her approach, which involved stopping payments on her mortgage, puts her in a small but growing group of homeowners.

Did she do the right thing?

Frustrated by job losses, underwater homes, and unwieldy mortgage modification programs, more and more homeowners are crafting their own mortgage modification programs. These programs, which do not have the approval of lenders, involve paying nothing more and using the time till they get evicted by the bank to create a Plan B.

Annis says she'd like to keep her condo, but just doesn't have the money to pay the mortgage on her unemployment check. Her career in law was her parents' dream, and she was never happy working in that field.

At first, Annis tried to save her home by working with the bank when she first lost her job last June. She entered a loan modification program and the bank lowered the monthly payment on her 6.75 percent mortgage from $1,600 to $1,300 with the promise of a lower interest loan. CitiMortgage gave her time to find a job before doing the full paperwork for a modification. When she still hadn't found a job by September 2009, the bank agreed to another extension at $1,000 per month with a reduction in interest rate by 2 percent.

Annis says each modification took about 50 phone calls.