As the foreclosure mess gets worse almost literally by the day, Brett Arends poses a question to all those underwater homeowners still making mortgage payments: Are you nuts? He's actually far more diplomatic than that, but to him "the big question" in all this isn't why so many "distressed homeowners" are defaulting. "It's why any of them are still making payments," he writes in the Wall Street Journal.
"If they just stop paying, what is going to happen to them? In many cases they may get to live in the home rent-free for months, even years, until the bank gets around to seizing it," writes Arends. The morality of this makes him "uneasy," but then again, a mortgage "isn't simply a promise to repay the lender. It's a promise to repay the lender or to forfeit the home. Isn't someone simply fulfilling their contract by handing over the keys when asked?" Besides, homeowners may have taken on reckless loans, but lenders were just as reckless signing off on them.