Fannie Mae has made policy changes that will penalize borrowers opting to strategically default. The changes are designed to encourage borrowers to work with their servicers and pursue alternatives to foreclosure.
Defaulting borrowers who walkaway and had the capacity to pay or did not complete a workout alternative in good faith will be ineligible for a new Fannie Mae-backed mortgage loan for aseven-year period starting from the date of foreclosure. Borrowers who have extenuating circumstances may be eligible for new loan in a shorter timeframe.
"We're taking these steps to highlight the importance of working with your servicer," said Terence Edwards, executive vice president for credit portfolio management. "Walking away from a mortgage is bad for borrowers and bad for communities and our approach is meant to deter the disturbing trend toward strategic defaulting."
Fannie Mae will also take legal action to recoup the outstanding mortgage debt from borrowers who strategically default on their loans in jurisdictions that allow for deficiency judgments.
In an announcement next month, the company will be instructing its servicers to monitor delinquent loans facing foreclosure and put forth recommendations for cases that warrant the pursuit of deficiency judgments.
Congress and legislators have also weighed in on strategic defaultsand House Republicans have introduced a provision barring government-backed loans for borrowers who walked away from homes when they could still afford the mortgage.
"It's amazing that businesses and banks regularly turn to strategic default to save capital and preserve their interests, yet you will never hear of Congress imposing restrictions or deterrents on these institutions," Attorney Roy Oppenheim of Oppenheim Law said in a press statement. "Once again, homeowners are staring hypocrisy in the face when it comes to banking practices and real estate."