Would you walk away?

With 1 in 4 homeowners underwater, many pundits predict a flood of people walking away from their homes. 5 readers discuss why they are - and are not - sticking around.

1 of 6
BACKNEXT
Fewer walking away than you think
Fewer walking away than you think
The Foretich house in Mississippi
Almost 25% of homeowners, or 10.7 million borrowers, were "underwater" on their mortgages during the third quarter, according to First American CoreLogic. Another 2.3 million are near that drowning point, where you owe more on your loan than your home is worth.

A basic cost-benefit analysis predicts that these people will abandon their homes and accept foreclosure. But there is little data measuring whether that logic holds true. In fact, Eric Johnson, a business professor at Columbia University, believes it doesn't. After years of studying behavioral economics - essentially the economics of choice - he argues that people will simply not make such rational decisions.

"There are two effects that suggest [walk aways] won't happen so easily," he says. "The first is the endowment effect. People tend to value their own house above its market price. Owners don't want to sell at a loss. They have what we call a loss aversion."

The second is that people weigh the importance of immediate outcomes more heavily than long-term effects. Walking away involves upfront expenditures of time, money and effort, while the benefits of walking away are back-loaded.

"People are impatient and weight present costs and benefits more, so they will walk away less often than we might think," Johnson says.

In the following pages are some homeowners who have thought hard about the costs and benefits of walking away from their mortgages.
NEXT: Won't walk: Rich Foretich
Last updated November 24 2009: 11:47 AM ET
Email | Print | Share  |  RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
More Galleries
50 years of the Ford Mustang Take a drive down memory lane with our favorite photos of the car through the years. More
Cool cars from the New York Auto Show These are some of the most interesting new models and concept vehicles from the Big Apple's car show. More
8 CEOs who took a pay cut in 2013 Median CEO pay inched up 9% in 2013 to $13.9 million. But not everyone got a bump last year. Here are eight CEOs who missed out. More

Special Offer
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.