A deed in lieu of foreclosure allows a lender to take possession of a property securing a deliquent loan without going through the foreclosure process. 

This would allow homeowners to walk out from under massive amounts of debt without a full-fledged foreclosure on their credit history.

Deeds in lieu are becoming more popular — albeit still in much lower numbers than short sales and loan modifications and refinancing activity. RealtyTrac data shows just above 20,000 DILFs nationwide in 2012, up 39% from about 14,000 in in 2011.