Every day more homeowners are underwater — meaning they owe more on their house than it’s worth — and a growing number of them across the country are simply walking away. They pack up, throw the house keys in the mail to the bank and start over. Sounds like an easy solution to a difficult problem. “Anything that sounds really easy or guaranteed is not,” says Anne Balcer Norton, director of the foreclosure prevention division at St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center in Baltimore. Indeed, in Maryland and the majority of states, walking away is no guarantee that mortgage debt won’t come back to haunt you. These are so-called recourse states, where a lender can pursue you for any shortfall after it sells the house. So if you walk away from a $350,000 mortgage and the lender turns around and sells the house for $250,000, you can still be on the hook for $100,000.
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