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"Homeowners" Buy and Bail

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted June 11, 2008





There is a funny thing about people—given the choice between being poor and living comfortably, they always seem to choose comfort for some reason.  Go figure.

Here’s a story from the housing world that is a perfect example of that trait. It seems that a number of upside down homeowners have decided to take matters into their own hands.

They are jumping out of the wildly overpriced homes that they can’t possibly sell and are picking up on the half priced deals that are just down the street.

Ditech was right….People really are smart.

Here’s the skinny.

From the Wall Street Journal by Nick Timiraos entitled: Some Buy a New Home to Bail on the Old

“Next month, Michelle Augustine plans to walk away from her four-bedroom house in a Sacramento, Calif., subdivision and let the property fall into foreclosure. But before doing so, she hopes to lock in the purchase of another home nearby.

“I can find the same exact house as what I live in right now for half the price,” says Ms. Augustine, 44 years old, who runs a child-care service out of her home. She says she soon will be unable to afford her monthly payments, which will jump to $4,000 from $3,300 in August, and she doesn’t want to continue to own a home that is now worth $200,000 less than what she paid for it two years ago.

In markets hit hardest by falling home prices and rising foreclosures, lenders and brokers are discovering a new phenomenon: the “buy and bail,” in which borrowers with good credit buy a new home — often at a much lower price — then bail out of the “upside down” mortgage on their first home.

Homeowners are able to pull off this gambit — which some lenders and real-estate agents call mortgage fraud — by taking advantage of mortgage-lending practices that allow them to buy a new primary residence before their existing residence has been sold. And with the lending industry in disarray as it tries to restructure millions of mortgages, some boast they are able to pull off the strategy with ease.

Ms. Augustine, the Sacramento day-care provider, became a first-time homeowner in November 2006 by taking out two loans with nothing down to cover the $426,000 home purchase. With her home valued at about $220,000 now, she is actively looking in nearby communities for another one to buy before the bank forecloses on her current home

In some cases, homeowners are coached through the buy-and-bail process by real-estate agents and brokers who see nothing wrong with it. Some blame the phenomenon in part on lenders’ unwillingness to cut deals or restructure loans made when home prices were inflated. “It’s just a business decision,” says Linda Caoili, a Sacramento real-estate agent who is working with Ms. Augustine and others who are considering walking away from their mortgages. “If you’re upside-down $250,000, why would you keep it? It just doesn’t make sense.”

It is just a business decision…..plain and simple.