"Buy and Bail":

A new twist in the foreclosure drama--a consumer gets a mortgage to buy a second home by promising to rent out his first home and using the rental payments to pay the second mortgage. Then, once he buys the second home, he does a walk-away foreclosure on the first home rather than renting it out. The new loan thus is obtained before the foreclosure damages his credit score. From the WSJ story:

Next month, Michelle Augustine plans to walk away from her four-bedroom house in a Sacramento, Calif., subdivision and let the property fall into foreclosure. But before doing so, she hopes to lock in the purchase of another home nearby.

"I can find the same exact house as what I live in right now for half the price," says Ms. Augustine, 44 years old, who runs a child-care service out of her home. She says she soon will be unable to afford her monthly payments, which will jump to $4,000 from $3,300 in August, and she doesn't want to continue to own a home that is now worth $200,000 less than what she paid for it two years ago.

In markets hit hardest by falling home prices and rising foreclosures, lenders and brokers are discovering a new phenomenon: the "buy and bail," in which borrowers with good credit buy a new home -- often at a much lower price -- then bail out of the "upside down" mortgage on their first home.


That loophole currently works like this: Homeowners provide a rental agreement showing that they will rent out their first home, and underwriters allow rental income to cover as much as 75% of the mortgage payments on the first home when determining whether the borrower can make payments on two homes. This allows homeowners to secure a second mortgage that they might not otherwise afford.

The strategy is especially attractive in states with antideficiency laws for purchase-money mortgages, such as California and Arizona. One Nevada real estate broker who specializes in "buy and bail" plans says he is receiving one to two dozen inquiries per week about buy and bail plans.

Fannie Mae is proposing new guidelines to try to restrict the practice.