Scott Conroy pays the mortgage every month on his one-bedroom condominium in San Diego, even though it’s worth 33 percent less than what he owes and it may take more than a decade to break even.Homeowners like Conroy who can afford their monthly payments are weighing whether to sell and pay the difference, stick it out until housing prices recover, or walk away. In the U.S., 26 percent of borrowers owe more than their home is worth, said Karen Weaver, global head of securitization research for New York-based Deutsche Bank Securities. In parts of California, Florida and Nevada, it’s as high as 75 percent.So-called strategic defaults, in which homeowners stop paying their mortgages while remaining current on other debts, rose 128 percent to 588,000 last year, according to Experian PLC, a Dublin-based credit-checking company, and Oliver Wyman, a New York-based consulting firm. Two-thirds of those who walked away defaulted on their primary residences.“You’re looking at an extremely long horizon in order to see a return of home values to where they were at their peak,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist for Zillow.com, the Seattle-based real estate data service.
By Margaret Collins, Oct. 1, 2009 Bloomberg

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