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Survey: One in four Nevadans walked away from mortgage

Many Nevadans strategically defaulted on mortgages, according to survey.

Many Nevadans strategically defaulted on mortgages, according to survey.

Even though walking away from a home mortgage can put a person's credit into serious financial jeopardy, some people view it as the best option. And in Nevada, approximately one in four people that lost their homes to foreclosure did just that.

According to the Nevada Association of Realtors, 23 percent of those surveyed freely admitted to strategically defaulting on their mortgage payments. A strategic default is when a borrower decides to "walk away" from their mortgage payments even though they have the financial wherewithal to continue making payments.

Perhaps these same people wouldn't have walked away had they known about the federal and nonprofit programs that could financially assist them, as the survey found most Nevadans were unaware of the programs.

"[T]his report suggests that we can do more to make distressed homeowners aware of the free and low-cost resources available to help them," said Linda Rheinberger, president of NVAR. "It also reinforces our belief that lenders would do well to speak to their customers before foreclosing."

While many Americans walked away from their mortgages last year, experts agree that doing so carries risk. It can severely hamper credit ratings and increase tax liabilities.