Nearly one in four Nevada home owners in foreclosure walked away from their mortgage even though they were able to pay, according to a survey by the Nevada Association of REALTORS®.

Many of the home owners described it as “strategic default,” saying they were advised by others that walking away from the home was their best option.

Nearly 60 percent of the home owners said their lenders were unwilling to work with them on finding a solution. Nearly 43 percent had faced two or more significant life events, such as medical issues or job loss, that had put them at high risk for defaulting on their mortgage.

Most of the Nevada home owners facing foreclosure said they didn’t know about any of the state or federal aide programs available to them, the survey found. For example, 61 percent did not know about the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative, a federal foreclosure prevention program. And only 3 percent said they were assisted by the Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program.

Linda Rheinberger, the former president of the Nevada Association of REALTORS®, says real estate professionals can help make home owners more aware of the resources available to them.

It also reinforces our belief that lenders would do well to speak to their customers before foreclosing and to continue streamlining their short sale processes, since short sales are one viable alternative to foreclosures, she says.

Only one-tenth of those surveyed said they used a short sale to avoid foreclosure.

Source: “Nevada Realtors Say 23 Percent Who Lost Homes Walked Away,” Mason Valley News (Jan. 30, 2011)