Viewpoint: Feeling Guilty About Buying a Foreclosure?

Ann Brenoff



The sides in the housing crisis' morality play have been very neatly defined for us. The banks are the ruthless, faceless devils who cast out the sick and (financially) weak from their homes. A few bystanders -- let's call them renters-by-choice and anonymous online commenters -- stand on the sidelines cheering because, after all, don't we all know that you can't expect to make a deal with the devil and win?

But then there is another actor: the buyer of foreclosed homes. A recent Ethicist column in The New York Times frames the rarely discussed dilemma that people who buy foreclosed or short-sold homes face: Are they capitalizing on another's misfortune? And is that the right thing to do?