Guest Post: Why Do The Rich Default on Their Mortgages? Because In California and Arizona, They Can

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Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:28 | 473098 God
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Why Do The Rich Default on Their Mortgages?

There is no shame in playing the game...

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:38 | 473113 VK
VK's picture

But God, you told us it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven. Have you been lying to us for 2,010 years?

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:04 | 473157 Oh regional Indian
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Bin had bad.


Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:51 | 473222 malek
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As they say in Germany:

"Ist der Ruf erst ruiniert, lebt sich's gänzlich ungeniert."

roughly translates to

"Once you ruined your reputation, one can live completely uninhibited."

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:29 | 473099 snowball777
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Ahhh....but their HELOCs...that stink will follow them all the way to Rodeo.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:42 | 473123 aerojet
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"Rich" and "HELOC" don't jive with me.  

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:44 | 473127 snowball777
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Rich people lose jobs (Hi Fab Fab!!!) and desperately try to continue the affect of wealth all the time, except they call it "a cash flow problem".

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 20:00 | 474688 FEDbuster
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As my brother used to call himself a "low cash flow dude".

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:37 | 473208 Eternal Student
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Exactly. Add to this the fact that people who have refi'd also lose their no-recourse status, which is probably most mortgages (given how much activity there's been to grab the lower interest rates).

The article also left out the reason why no-recourse originally came about. There was a time when people thought that it was wiser to let people get back up on their feet, and give them a chance again. With no-recourse and the way the debt-collection agencies are going, the general theme now is to keep people in debt forever as debt-slaves to the Bank.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:53 | 473224 FrankIvy
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This was the whole point behind the 05 bankruptcy revision.  The main change there was that 50% of the population could be forced into chap 13 repayment rather than the fresh start promised by chap 7.

Best financial advice I ever gave was to my neighbor, who "wanted to do the right thing," and was going to file chap 13 even though he qualified for 7.  I earnestly told him to get his head out of his ass.  CCCs charging him 19% and he wanted to "do the right thing" and pay back his bills.

A few months of hell, some public shame, and man they were good as new and happier than ever.

Then they bought a car.


Fri, 07/16/2010 - 10:12 | 473257 Calculated_Risk
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Thats what bankruptcy is for.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 12:50 | 473709 bonddude
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or Pittsburg, yo?

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:31 | 473104 TooBearish
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AUDJPY cross! holy crap ES  divergence #12

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:10 | 473174 Alethiometer
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Hope you were riding the 300 pip EURUSD move this week


Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:32 | 473106 Kat
Kat's picture

The New York Pravda is only interested in fomenting a class war.  So, of course, they are going to skip the part about incentives.  The antideficiency law is the problem.

Not surprising.  All the government does is pass laws that create more problems than they solve.


Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:39 | 473117 pan-the-ist
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I'm sorry, why is it a problem to foreclose on a house again?  If the asset is not worth the debt, why would you keep it?  Is it your duty to your fellow man to remain a wage slave?  What's wrong with you?

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:43 | 473213 MachoMan
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So, what should the mortgage companies have done?  Well, they could have charged higher rates given the lack of recourse...  could have demanded additional collateral...  it's not like their hands were tied.  If certain states want to be less competitive on loans, that's their business.

We always end up back at the same issues...  can companies accurately assess risk?  Do the companies issuing the loans keep any skin in the game?  Can we ensure appraisers are objective?  If an overarching company is going to purchase all the bad loans, can we ensure they are purchased from initial lenders at a fair price and subsequently liquidated/sold at a fair price, upon proper auction terms.

I also fail to understand the stigma associated with defaulting on a loan held by a GSE paid for by your own tax dollars.  Although homes carry sentimental value few other assets hold, their purchase is still a business decision.  A decision that was made in full and complete understanding of the law at the time...  hedge accordingly...  and if not, get the government to bail you out.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:53 | 473225 Kat
Kat's picture

I have no idea what you're talking about. 

I have no problem with foreclosure.  If the borrower can't pay, the lender should foreclose.  The problem is that that antideficiency laws in our system of socialized losses and privatized profit shift the responsibility for debt from the debtor to everyone else.

But, given antideficiency laws, the borrowers are making a perfectly logical decision. 

It is your duty make good on the contracts you entered.  Yes.  It is not the duty of your fellow man to backstop your stupid decisions and unfortunate trades.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 10:08 | 473247 pan-the-ist
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When I signed my mortgage I made no agreement with the pension that bought the MBS my loan was bundled into, and wasn't even aware that a CDS existed.  I made an agreement with a bank that I would pay my loan with my house as collateral.  On the face of it, my walking away should be between me and my bank, it is unfortunate that the banksters have setup a system to privatize gains and socialize losses.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 10:26 | 473279 RockyRacoon
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You have a good point.  Same could be said of car loans.  What the lender does with them is of no concern to the borrower.  If I want to stop paying on the car, and they come and get it, it's nobody's business.  There is no "moral clause" in any of these contracts.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 12:57 | 473728 bonddude
bonddude's picture

Problem is corporate America walks from

loan obligations everyday. Illegals walk.

crooks walk. Everyone leaves the balance to be 

picked up by John Q. US Taxpayer. Hence,

"drop off the key, Lee." 


By the way, who holds the MBS and how are 

they being priced these days. FNM,FRE ???

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 15:06 | 474146 Kat
Kat's picture

Judging by your reply, you don't seem to understand what an MBS or a CDS is. 

The contract you signed is to repay the mortgage with your house as collateral - to WHOMEVER owns the loan.  If the bank sells itself to another institution, you then owe th money to the institution that bought the bank.  Regardless of who is currently lending you the money, you owe it.

The banks have no power to "set up a system" to socialize losses.  Only your "friendly" government has that power.  As long as the government has that power, banks will try to buy it.  To blame the banks for doing this is as inane as blaming the rich for walking away from upside down mortgages when the banks can't go after them for the deficiency.  And there are still people who want government to be more powerful, which means that there will be more reason to buy government power.

Sat, 07/17/2010 - 09:31 | 475240 pan-the-ist
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So the people who bought the MBS should have known better?  As you say, the government works on behalf of the banks.  What's your point again?  Oh, that's right, you don't have one.


Sat, 07/17/2010 - 11:30 | 475301 Cpl Hicks
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Meant to note your changing your avatar from one gangster to another...nice!

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:12 | 473107 Paper CRUSHer
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Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:38 | 473115 Sean7k
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Why do the rich default? Because they understand wealth preservation, making financial decisions based on facts and not sentiment. In a few words, they are not brainwashed by social conformity.

Good chart on Jesse's cafe americain about this very subject. 

The banks sold this debt to generate fees, without regard for risk assessment- because they knew they would be bailed out. This feigned outrage over defaults is laughable and another attempt to guilt those willing to buy the argument. 

The banks loaned against collateral. They are being given back the collateral. Isn't this how collateral works? Isn't this why banks receive an interest payment and down payment? Their failure to do due diligence is everyone else"s fault? Let them fail!

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:40 | 473122 pan-the-ist
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The rich are rich because they don't spend money when they don't have to.  It really is that easy.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:39 | 473209 John Self
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I agree.  But I'm also not sure how many of the people we're talking about are truly rich.  It's easy for them to look that way from the perspective of a blue-collar worker, especially if the defaulter carries a $1MM+ mortgage.  But in many of the bubble areas, a $1MM mortgage doesn't get you that spectacular of a house.  You could easily be a upper-middle class worker drone, still living paycheck to paycheck, and be in one of those houses.  I'm guessing maybe 3000 sf, 4 or maybe 5 bedrooms in a fairly upscale neighborhood.  (Or potentially a lesser house with a home equity line also playing into the equation.)  Nice?  Sure.  Much of the country, and nearly all of the world, would kill to live there.  But not necessarily the family that can suddenly start buying cars with cash after the default.

I'm sure there are some strategic defaulters, but I suspect that it's far fewer than the NYT wants us to think.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:57 | 473229 pan-the-ist
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And we agree that those people should never have been in those houses, the reality, as most of us here agree, is that the housing market will deleverage, when that rock rolls off of Atlas's back, it's going to do some damage, there is no avoiding it.

(BTW, i noticed the site's spell check doesn't like the work deleverage - is this it a forbidden word?)

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 10:00 | 473233 The Rock
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"But in many of the bubble areas, a $1MM mortgage doesn't get you that spectacular of a house.  You could easily be a upper-middle class worker drone, still living paycheck to paycheck"

I agree. I live in the LA area and there are a LOT of people who are in that situation. Yes, the market crashed for the lower end homes but it hasn't hit the "higher end" homes of $800k+ yet. Just like on the way up there was a delayed reaction for the higher end homes to participate in the bubble rally, it's the same thing on the way down. A lot of those homes only went down 20% from its peak. The next leg down will happen when these option ARMs reset this fall.

And just like the article states, I know someone who can actually afford his home of $900k who said that if the value of his home went down to say $600k, that he would walk away.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 10:43 | 473340 Yes We Can. But...
Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

Friend of mine's 5 year ARM, based on one-year LIBOR index, resets next month from 5.25% to around 3.25%.  I'd imagine a lot of resets will aid the borrowers...

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 12:07 | 473579 Strom
Strom's picture

The issue on most loans will not be the reset, but the recast. Once they have to start paying amortization, the payment will increase significantly. Especially on Option Arms where they made the minimum payment and are now at something like 125% LTV (that's ORIGINAL appraised value, not current value). 

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:56 | 473230 Kat
Kat's picture

That's part of it.  The other part is that they are very much more productive than the average person and therefore create a lot of wealth.  You have to have to first create the thing you are not spending frivolously.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 10:12 | 473258 pan-the-ist
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"Rich" is obviously a relative thing.  There are plenty of stories of frugal people who live within their means and manage to save a lot of money over their lifetimes.  Most of us, me included, aren't forced (yet) to live within our means.  Some of us think we do, but we'll be put to the test soon.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 10:22 | 473280 weinerdog43
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"...they are very much more productive than the average person and therefore create a lot of wealth."

Rubbish.  By this analysis, LeBron James is much more valuable to society than the trash collector, sewer worker or plumber. 

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 11:30 | 473478 RKDS
RKDS's picture

Didn't you get the memo?  Having lots of money irrespective of whether you earned, stole, or inherited it, automatically makes you better and more important than everyone else.  I swear, sure are alot of communists on ZH these days...

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 12:37 | 473676 weinerdog43
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D'oh!  Stupid me.  Never mind!

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 12:44 | 473697 poopdeville
Fri, 07/16/2010 - 13:41 | 473865 contrabandista13
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"... By this analysis, LeBron James is much more valuable to society than the trash collector, sewer worker or plumber....?

He is, however, not because I made him so, because you made him so..... So far as I'm concerned, LeBron can drop dead tomorrow and I wouldn't bat an eyelash..... His agents and PR people would probably have a cow but I wouldn't give a shit... The privilege of being rich is that you don't have to stand in line for anything, not even in the line for the gallows....

As my father used to say... "there are two classes of people in this world, those who are bought and sold and those who do the buying and the selling. Pick one...!" Believe it or not, even with his income, LeBron is a member of the former class. He may know how to play basketball but he ain't no player, in the Biblical sense of the word. Power is a currency in and of itself and the powerful are fearless.

Best regards,


Fri, 07/16/2010 - 13:43 | 473880 Chump
Chump's picture

"Valuable to society" is bullshit collectivist jargon.  Value to whoever is paying the salary is all that matters.  Those sewer workers and trash collectors may have an important job, but anyone with working arms and legs who can left up to approximately 75 pounds can do it.  There are a lot of people who fit those criteria, so the job doesn't pay as much as others.  It's simple supply and demand.  And most plumbers earn a pretty penny.  The job requires a fair amount more skill than collecting trash, and there are fewer people who pursue developing that skill.

LeBron is worth millions to someone(s) because he can dunk a basketball and entertain tens of thousands of people at a time.  Those tens of thousands of people spend money on merchandise, tickets, beer, premium TV, etc., etc.  Right or wrong, it doesn't matter what you think.  You're not paying the bill.

"Value to society."  Don't make me vomit.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 15:15 | 474179 Kat
Kat's picture

Well, technically, "society" is paying to see LeBron which is what gives him all that money.  So, I guess society thinks he's pretty valuable :)

So, I guess for all those who whine about "value to society" should just first understand what the F**k they're talking about first, eh?

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 15:12 | 474167 Kat
Kat's picture

Yes, LeBron is worth more because people will pay to see him and very few people in the population can do his job.  Anyone can be a sewer worker or a trash collector and plumbers make more than they do because they are more skilled.  You see now?

Most people who have a high income obtain that income by being valuable to their employers - more valuable than the compensation they are being paid.  They produce more than other employees.  Or an entreprenuers creates something so useful that people happily part with their hard earned money to buy it.  They create wealth.  There are exceptions for rent seeking corporations, obviously.  But, generallly speaking.


Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:40 | 473120 aerojet
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I would file this under don't hate the player, hate the game.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:46 | 473133 snowball777
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If I was an executioner, I might not be able to resist using that line on a 'customer'.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:52 | 473144 moneymutt
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its a lot more complicated than that, this article gives a false, simplified perceptions....HELOCs, refis etc. change rules drastically....and if you were in your house more a few years, with the dropping rates, almost everyone has re-fi'd. There are many ways banks can still come after people after they leave, beyond taking the security, the house and there are starting to. In Florida, banks are starting to come after people several years after they walked away.

Cali legislature has been debating this issue, the Realtors want people to be able to walkaway in all situations, because they want future customers, banks, are fighting it. Tough to choose to side for one or the other of those two. 

Please, zerohedge, get smarter commentary than this, at least get facts right...people in Cali and FL may think they can walk away without further collections but this is often no the case.

Mish and many housing blogs have posted tons of info on the labyrinth of rules around is stupid for someone writing an article not to know more.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:43 | 473211 malek
malek's picture

You're right,
but the article at least mentions things like antideficiency states, compared to the NY Prawda...

So it's a good one for starters.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:55 | 473147 Yardfarmer
Yardfarmer's picture

the American mantra: privatization of profits, socialization of losses...

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 08:59 | 473150 RicardoM from T...
RicardoM from Temecula CA's picture

I have never heard anyone pan antideficiency statutes. They are a holdover from a raunchy period where individuals lost their homes and the big, bad banks would pick on the sissies trying to collect the whole amount they lent. I am a conservative and I am 100%, nay 1,000% all for antideficiency statutes. IN CALIFORNIA, DID THE JOURNALIST NOT KNOW, THAT BANKS CAN FOREGO THE PROCESS OF TRUSTEE FORECLOSURE AND GO TO COURT AND GET THEIR DEFICIENCY JUDGMENT? Antideficiency only applies to the creditor using the out-of-court remedy.


Shet, I have never heard anybody bitch about anti-deficiency legislation. What is the world coming to?

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 09:01 | 473152 dussasr
dussasr's picture

People in nonrecourse states pay higher mortgage rates to compensate for the increased risk to the bank.  Therefore, one could argue that those folks paid in advance for the right to walk away from their mortgage.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 23:05 | 474933 moneymutt
moneymutt's picture

how much higher...please...if you consider the percentage of people that strategically walk on mortgages, thus could be ripe for collections, and figure how much the banks can get from them after the legal wrangling and chance people simply file bankruptcy etc...the differences in losses in non recourse and recourse states is not that big.

Got evidence otherwise?

...I live in MN, we have pretty decent consumer protections on mortgages...and I refi'd my house last Dec for 4.5 percent interest rate ....I was consistently quoted mortgage rates that were very comparable to national averages at the I was not competitvely hurt by the consumer protections but would be immensely helped by these protections should I lose my job etc....

Banksters train you to worry about them, not syndrome

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