Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

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
A look at Sears through the years Now Sears has officially said its business has an uncertain future, here's a look at photographs that documents the store's rich history. More
Coolest hotel bars for business travelers in 2017 CNNMoney asked a high-end concierge service for routine business travelers what hotel bars they'd recommend in 4 major U.S. cities. Here are the best spots. More
Top credit cards for business travelers 2017 Just like a pair of pants, there's no 'one size fits all' when it comes to the best credit cards for travelers. More

Special Offer