Peter RyanAs the housing crisis wreaked havoc across the nation, Washington state

Peter RyanAs the housing crisis wreaked havoc across the nation, Washington state for many years seemed in a protected bubble. The state ranked almost dead last nationwide in rates of foreclosures and mortgage defaults. Well, as we report in this week’s cover story, things have changed. Last year, the state ranked 5th in the rate of mortgages that were more than 90 days past due. “Why is Washington state going in this direction?” asks Scott Jarvis, director of the state Department of Financial Institutions.”Boeing is going great guns. The last time I checked Microsoft is still in business.”In other words, a lot of people should still be able to afford their mortgages. It’s whether they want to pay them off that’s the tricky part. As property values have declined year after year, more and more homeowners have realized that they owe far more on their mortgage than their home is worth. Witness an engineer named “Jane,” who bought a condo in Renton for $175,000 in 2008. It may now be worth as little as $60,000 or $70,000, such has been the hammering of south King County’s condo market. And so Jane and her husband, also an engineer, have decided to stop paying their mortgage and let the bank foreclose. (Jane is chronicling her adventure on a blog she started.) They made the decision to “strategically default,” as it’s called in the case of relatively affluent homeowners, with the full blessing of their attorney, whose advise can be summarized thusly: “Walk away, right now!”It’s a slow motion walk, though. Banks, which in many cases banks don’t want the properties either, are taking literally years to foreclose. So homeowners can continue to stay put with, as one lawyer says, “zero housing costs.” Forget all the rules you knew about the housing game. As Tales From the Bust shows, this is a new, far more chaotic era.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Dr. Faisal Khan. Courtesy of King County.
Dr. Faisal Khan appointed as next King County health director

Dennis Worsham will continue to serve as interim director until September 6.

Tsr
Renton spa manager accused of trying to coerce woman into prostitution, posing nude

Quyen T. Nguyen, 39, has been accused of attempted promotion of prostitution… Continue reading

Teaser
King County experts discuss extreme heat mitigation plan

The plan includes improving infrastructure and communications to prevent future disasters.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Teaser
King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

t
Des Moines Police arrest murder suspect in Kent | Update

Medical examiner identifies body found June 20 in Duwamish River

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

Most Read