Good news: There is life after walking away from your mortgage.
Just ask Jon Wittenburg, a former pharmaceutical industry worker who told the New York Times how he managed to turn his life back around after turning his back on his $450,000 Southern California home.
After he was laid off, he turned his home into a rental but faced a $1,200 shortfall each month as low rent rates couldn’t keep up with his hefty mortgage payments.
“Mr. Witten berg said he knew the decision to walk away could spell doom for his score, which was in the low-to-mid 700s, and he didn’t know what other financial complications might arise.
“Am I going to have to pay this back? What are these banks capable of doing to me? Buying a house again? Out of the question,” he said. “So here I am, upper middle class, I have two degrees, and I’m stuck. Just because I wanted to end the hemorrhaging.”
But he’s managed to bounce back with few major complications by planning ahead and doing some major damage control.
First, Wittenburg turned to YouWalkAway.com, a site that holds homeowners’ hands as they face foreclosure and helps them navigate the process.
You can also tap real estate sites like Zillow for advice on forming a strategy and getting your ducks in a row before defaulting.
No matter what, expect your credit score to take a beating—to the tune of a 100-point loss or more, some experts say. It can take months before your score starts to recover and the road is even longer it’s low to begin with.
In that case, it’s even more vital to make all payments on your other debt on time in order to nurture the recovery process.
Cut costs like Wittenburg by moving in with a roommate or downsizing to an apartment. He adopted a “cash only” lifestyle and pledged to get rid of all his debt.
“I think as more and more people know someone that’s done it, they know that, OK, these people have moved on, they kind of pushed the reset button, and they’re starting over,” he said.
Check out the rest of his story from the Times here.
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