A credit counseling organization has released a survey, which it said contradicts a prevailing image of large numbers of home owners walking away from their mortgages.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, which bills itself as the nation's largest and oldest nonprofit credit counseling organization, said its Financial Literacy Survey for 2010 shows a majority of home owners willing to keep paying their mortgages if possible.
The survey found that the overwhelming majority of consumers, even those in financial distress, still consider their mortgage payment a priority, the organization said. "When asked if they were unable to meet all of their financial obligations, would they be more likely to keep their mortgage current, or their credit cards current, 91% of respondents said they would pay their mortgage first," NFCC added.
The survey also asked under what circumstances, if any, they would consider it justifiable to default on a mortgage. Only 23% of respondents answered that foreclosure is justifiable if the property is now worth less than what is owed on it. Further, 15% replied that there is no justifiable circumstance under which it would be acceptable to default on a mortgage.
"Taken together, the NFCC survey data brings us some encouraging news: consumers still place a priority on making their mortgage payment, less than one-fourth think that defaulting on a mortgage is justifiable simply because the property is underwater, and a significant number take mortgage obligations so seriously that they find no acceptable reason to default on a home loan," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC."Americans continue to prioritize their obligation to service their mortgage loan, and this is indeed good news for homeowners, mortgage lenders and the housing market overall."