Widows Forced Into Foreclosure by Mortgage Rules
Fine print keeps them from taking over the house
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2012 5:00 PM CST
Widows are particularly vulnerable to foreclosure, in part because of the fine print on mortgages.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The housing crisis may be ebbing, but a particularly vulnerable group is falling into foreclosure because of the fine print on mortgages, the New York Times reports. Widows are finding that they can't take over the mortgage—which is usually in their husband's name—without being up-to-date on payments. But they're often thousands of dollars behind, especially if their spouse suffered a long illness. And if they can't take over, banks usually force them into foreclosure.

In fact, homeowners older than 50 are facing foreclosure more than any age group, which reflects other scary trends, like growing medical costs and reduced pensions. Some banks are helping by bending mortgage rules, and housing advocates say most widows they represent are staying in their foreclosed homes. But widows tell the Times about their confusion, stress, and dizzy spells in trying to deal with banks. "I keep praying," says a 70-year-old Florida woman who hasn't been able to take over the mortgage—even though her husband died of kidney failure last year.

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Showing 3 of 116 comments
Dec 3, 2012 6:46 AM CST
Does said widow have any other place she can afford? Can she afford an apartment? Does she just not want to? Owning a house isn't a right it isn't something that needs unconditional protection just because someone's spouse died. If said widow can afford an apartment then... that's just kinda how life goes? If my wife dies I have to change where I live, we can't afford our place on just my income.
Dec 3, 2012 1:31 AM CST
The sad truth is, most women outlive their husbands. Nursing homes are overwhelmingly housing women. And these old women grew up in a patriarchal era when the husband managed the finances. That certainly doesn't mean the husband was looking after the best interests of his wife. I am guessing if men outlived women, that we would have much better regulations, laws, govt. programs etc... in place, to protect them in their old age. As it is, an old woman is a useless piece of baggage in this society, and commands no respect or long term consideration.
Dec 2, 2012 9:52 PM CST
There are a few sides to this, First these mortgages were signed long long ago, when humanity was much more kind and these people probably didn't envision this future where they would be thrown out. Secondly, now that we have seen this happen we all need to cover our asses for the future. Next, it makes sense for these mortgages to lower payments and allow owners to stay in their homes until death or departure, they have steady pensions and receiving steady but lower payments as long as possible will probably still result in the foreclosure after death. Lastly, I sincerely hope that these widows can turn to their families and find a place to fit in, in the olden days families took care of each other and the grandparents were an instrumental part of the family, helping with domestic tasks and raising the kids, wouldn't be so bad for families with both parents working.