MONEY

Foreclosure Is Hitting Well-Off Families, Too

Who is falling into foreclosure? The Florida Association of Realtors wanted to find out, so it commissioned an analysis that cross-referenced three years of foreclosure filings with demographic data. The study focused only on primary residences; the idea was to ignore investors and speculators, looking instead at people who’d bought homes to live in themselves.

Some of the findings about foreclosed homeowners were pretty interesting:

  • 20% of the filings went to households with more than $100,000 in annual income.
  • 15% of homeowners had college degrees; another 8% went to graduate school.
  • 92% were married, and 65% had children.
  • 35% of homeowners who received a foreclosure filing had lived in their homes for more than 10 years. These were not people who’d bought too much house, but more likely people who lost their jobs and suddenly couldn’t afford the payments.

Personal interviews with homeowners, said the Realtors, indicated that it was very rare for just one financial setback to lead to the foreclosure. The group’s vice president of public policy, John Sebree, called this the “plus one” effect: It wasn’t just a high-interest-rate, high-payment subprime loan that might have caused a foreclosure; it was a bad loan and then a job loss. Alternatively, it wasn’t a job loss that caused an affordable loan to go bad; it was a job loss and a health issue. (For more insight, you can read the full report.)

Have you or someone you know gone through a foreclosure? How complicated were the causes? Post your comments below.

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