When is it Immoral to Walk Away from Your House?
Coral Gundlach wrote a thought-provoking article on people walking away from their homes.
The morality of the decision to walk away from a home has been discussed many times and will surely be discussed many more.
However, I think sometimes there is more to the decision than simply the ability to pay at this point in time.
Consider the following scenarios:
A 64 year old has not lost a job, nor had a decrease in income. The person can still pay the mortgage and does not have what might typically be a hardship. However, retirement savings have been cut to almost nothing as a result of the current economy. When retirement comes next year or 10 years from now, this person will have no income and nothing on which to retire. Does this person have the moral “right” to walk away from a home that is upside down when a home can be rented for significantly less and the difference can be put away for imminent retirement? Or, should the person abide by the terms of the contract/mortgage until some future time when there will be an actual inability to pay?
Parents have a 14-year old child who shows the ability to attend an Ivy League school. Parents are upside down in a home they once thought they would be able to sell for enough money to pay for a smaller home and a college education for their child.
They have the choice of walking away from a large mortgage and paying a much smaller rental amount for the next several years which will allow them to start their child on a wonderful road and potentially enable their child to have a better life.
Are they immoral if they choose to accept the consequences of their decision to help their child along and walk away from their obligation?
What is my point? Simply that because people have the ability to pay does not mean they don’t have a hardship they consider truly valid.
What do you think?
What would you do if it were you?