As we conducted these interviews with Americans around the country, we discovered that while there are patterns—lost jobs, failed business, illnesses, and broken marriages—each case represents a unique mix of causes.
Beware of blanket assumptions about what leads to foreclosure—such as financial mismanagement. Statistics from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program, a housing counseling service administered by NeighborWorks America, which supports affordable housing and community revitalization efforts nationwide, paint a picture of foreclosure you might not expect.
Myth: Most people facing foreclosure overextended themselves.
Reality: Only 6% of those counseled by NFMC cited poor budget management skills.
Myth: It’s all the fault of ARMs.
Reality: Only 5% of those counseled by NFMC report an increase in loan payments. And fewer than half of NFMC clients said they held ARMs.
Myth: Greedy people made bad bets on investment properties.
Reality: 82% of foreclosures have been on primary residences, not investment properties, according to a recent Center for Responsible Lending study. In fact, the main reason for default is a change in income due to a job loss, according to 58% of those counseled by NFMC.
Indeed, the loss of job and a reduction in household income are the top causes of personal residence foreclosure, says Austin A. Frye, a certified financial planner in Aventura, Fla., who’s seen such tragedies firsthand.
Read on to meet home owners with the resilience to hold on to their home or exit with as much grace as possible. In short, we hope you’ll see a side of foreclosure mere numbers can’t show.