While shaken, consumers' sense of obligation to the mortgage contract remains strong, according to the results of a market survey conducted last summer on behalf of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
Lisa Zakrajsek, head of marketing at Wells Fargo, presented that finding and others in a speech during the SourceMedia Mortgage Servicing Conference, ongoing this week in Dallas.
"While it's difficult to see in today's complexity, consumers' sense of obligation to the mortgage contract has not gone away," Zakrajsek said.
Survey respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed now and three years ago with the statement: "A contract is a contract and people should be held responsible for paying their mortgage based on the terms they agreed to with the bank."
Sharing their current opinions, 57% of respondents agreed, 30% didn't know and 11% disagreed. When asked how they would have answered the question three years ago, 58% agreed, 32% didn’t know and 11% disagreed.
Breaking the current opinions down by homeowners with equity and who are underwater, 62% agreed, 30% didn’t know and 8% disagreed. Among underwater borrowers, 51% agreed, 35% didn’t know and 14% disagreed.
"Has our moral fiber decreased as a result of this crisis?" Zakrajsek asked. "I would say the answer is no."
In addition to their sense of obligation to pay, the majority of respondents still believe buying a home is a good investment and part of the so called "American Dream of Home Ownership."