Rich and 'ruthless' abandoning mortgages

Homeowners with million-dollar loans are falling delinquent at a surprising rate.

By Kim Peterson Jul 9, 2010 2:17PM

Homes of the Rich  © CorbisHere's something the banks didn't expect: Wealthy people are really bad at paying their mortgages.

In fact, of homeowners with loans of more than $1 million, one in seven is seriously delinquent, according to The New York Times. For everyone else (those with loans under $1 million), only one in 12 is delinquent.

"Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population," writes David Streitfeld.

Streitfeld looks at the data and thinks that rich people are dumping their properties and walking away from loans that are underwater. It's not so much that they can't pay their loans, it's that they won't.

"The rich are different: They are more ruthless," said a senior economist at CoreLogic, the real-estate firm that provided the data to the Times.

For many wealthy homeowners, it's much easier to dump a mortgage than for everyone else. Some of them are getting in trouble on their second homes or investment homes, which are easier to walk away from than a main home.

They may also have more ways to exit a bad situation, such as untapped sources of money or wealthy relatives to lean on. They don't seem to be worried about getting sued by their lender or having bad credit in the future, Streitfeld writes.

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