Life In A Subprime Ghost Town: Not Paying The Mortgage Feels "Great!"

We’ve been hearing tales of suburban McGhost-Towns that were submerged by a tidal wave of foreclosures at the height of the subprime meltdown and are now just sitting there, the lawns turning brown one by one.

Tess Vigeland from Marketplace Money found one of these mythical towns and interviewed some of the residents. With so many houses standing empty, one of the few remaining families has decided to stop paying their mortgage. You might expect tears, but the Sinclairs say it feels “great” to be living rent free with a “bank full of money”:

Sinclair: If they reduced our interest rate back to 4.25, we might be able to make the payments, but I don’t think we’re going to.

Vigeland: Now, why not?

Sinclair: We would do it if the equity was there, but in a case where we’re already so behind… Imagine that for five years, say, we’re gonna pay four grand a month and then we’re just gonna be back up at what we bought the house for. We feel like we’re throwing away money.

The Sinclairs say they want to take responsibility for their debts, but right now it makes more financial sense not to.

Sinclair: I mean, you ask a good question. Is it really the right thing to do to let the mortgage companies take up the difference? That’s a really tough ethical question.

Dan says he experienced the various stages of grief, including denial and anger. Now he’s just relieved.

Sinclair: We went through months of being skinflints, because we knew that we were going into the red, so we didn’t buy anything. All the sudden, we had a bank full of money and we’re living rent-free, but we know that’s not really our money.

Vigeland: How does that feel?

Esmeralda Sinclair: Great! Like he said, we were so tight with money…

Dan: It does feel great, because all the sudden, we feel like we have a little margin now where we can go out to dinner, get a babysitter…

Vigeland: But you’re not paying your mortgage. You’re not paying the biggest obligation you have. How does that feel good?

Esmeralda: We already went through the guilt. This is really what we need to do, not what we wanted to do, but what we need to do.

Isn’t that something.

Ghost Town USA [Marketplace Money]
(Photo:Tess Vigeland)