Major consequences for people who Walk Away from their mortgages

Consequences for ‘Walk-Away’ BorrowersThe government and the lending industry are taking aim at “walk-away” home owners who stop making payments and months later send the house keys back to their lender.

Such borrowers will not be able to get another mortgage through Fannie Mae for five years, unless there are “documented extenuating circumstances.” In that case, the prohibition is three years. Even after the prescribed time has elapsed, a borrower with a foreclosure in his file will have to make at least a 10 percent down payment and have a FICO credit score of at least 680 to qualify for a Fannie Mae loan.

Freddie Mac, which counts foreclosures as major credit black mark for seven years, is now aggressively pursuing walk-away borrowers where permitted under state law, a senior official said.

Federal legislation enacted last year allows home owners who negotiate loan modifications with lenders and have portions of their principal debt eliminated to escape income tax liability for the amount forgiven.

Walk-away borrowers, by contrast, have nothing forgiven, and the Internal Revenue Service may demand taxes on the balance they never paid, the IRS says.

Source: Washington Post Writers Group, Kenneth R. Harney (04/12/2008)

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