Michael Seiler thinks it might be this way… see his paper below for more details.
As I argued earlier, in the Irish case very little is known. There is a little more information for the USA, but we should be very careful about blindly or even carefully transposing US experience to Ireland. The legal, cultural, economic and social climates are very different. We seem to be more tolerant of default than the USA but beyond that…That said, here are what I see as the present state of play. Im sure I have missed some research but for what its worth…
Bhutta, Neil, Jane K. Dokko, and Hui Shan. 2011. “Consumer Ruthlessness and Mortgage Default During the 2007-2009 Housing Bust.” SSRN Electronic Journal (December 31). doi:10.2139/ssrn.1626969. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1626969.
Edmonds, T N, L J Stevenson, and J Swisher. 2011. “Forgive Us Our Debts: The Great Recession of 2008-09.” Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues 14 (2): 1–16. http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84863525338&partnerID=40&md5=cc9d8b72b8b94a96ca05b675fccb4560.
Gerardi, Kristopher, Kyle Herkenhoff, Lee E. Ohanian, and Paul Willen. 2013. “Unemployment, Negative Equity, and Strategic Default.” http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2293152.
Guiso, Luigi, Paola Sapienza, and Luigi Zingales. 2011. “The Determinants of Attitudes Towards Strategic Default on Mortgages.” SSRN Electronic Journal (March 1). doi:10.2139/ssrn.1573328. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1573328.
Riley, Sarah F. 2013. “Strategic Default Behavior and Attitudes Among Low-Income Homeowners” (February 1). http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2282518.
Seiler, M J. 2013. “The Role of Informational Uncertainty in the Decision to Strategically Default.” SSRN Electronic Journal (January 29). doi:10.2139/ssrn.2211933. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2211933.
Seiler, M J, M A Lane, and D M Harrison. 2012. “Mimetic Herding Behavior and the Decision to Strategically Default.” Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. Old Dominion University, College of Business Administration, Norfolk, 23529-0223, United States. http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84866282494&partnerID=40&md5=bd88e45d25c19dc9afd2a035c384852b.
Seiler, M J, V L Seiler, M A Lane, and D M Harrison. 2012. “Fear, Shame and Guilt: Economic and Behavioral Motivations for Strategic Default.” Real Estate Economics 40 (SUPPL. 1): S199–S233. http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84871824267&partnerID=40&md5=cc8149feb524d374946f70929bc874fa.
Seiler, Michael Joseph, Eric A. Walden, and Mark Lane. 2012. “Strategic Mortgage Default and the Decision to Follow the Herd: A Neurological Explanation.” SSRN Electronic Journal (December 27). doi:10.2139/ssrn.2194254. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2194254.
White, Brent T. 2010a. “Take This House and Shove It: The Emotional Drivers of Strategic Default.” SSRN Electronic Journal (May 14). doi:10.2139/ssrn.1603605. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1603605.
———. 2010b. “The Morality of Strategic Default.” SSRN Electronic Journal (May 22). doi:10.2139/ssrn.1597835. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1597835.
———. 2010c. “Underwater and Not Walking Away: Shame, Fear and the Social Management of the Housing Crisis.” SSRN Electronic Journal (October 27). doi:10.2139/ssrn.1494467. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1494467.
Wilkinson-Ryan, T. 2011. “Breaching the Mortgage Contract: The Behavioral Economics of Strategic Default.” Vanderbilt Law Review 64 (5): 1547–1583. http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-81855184667&partnerID=40&md5=4546d2ad8953dfd098aacad6d2fadffc.
Irish residential and Buy to let mortgages are in a mess. The latest Central Bank data indicate that by value 16.5% of all residential mortgages are in arrears accounting for 12.3% of all mortgages. The charts below show the evolution of this situation. Note that these are only for residential mortgages. Buy to Let are a separate problem, and are commercial loans that if in default should be foreclosed on. There may well be an issue with cross collaterisation of these to residential but again thats a separate issue.
One of the issues that arises is “strategic default”, that is to say how many of these 142,000 mortgages in arrears are “wont pay” rather than “cant pay”. The simple answer is we do not know. That doesn’t stop the assumption that “its a lot”. Today we see in an otherwise excellent discussion by Davy stockbrokers on the banks the statement ” A growing culture of strategic non-payment of debt “. How do they know its growing? From what base? To what level?
The meme is that its 1/3 of arrears in default are “Strategic” , Wont Pay defaulters. This arises from a post by Professor Gregory Connor where he took US studies and tried to map the findings to Ireland. This is a difficult and thankless task but absent anything else its all we have.
In a parliamentary reply to a question on this issue the Minister for Finance stated his view (aka the Department of Finance view) on the 1/3 figure as ” The suggestion that the rising number of mortgage arrears is in part being driven by increased levels of strategic default, that is individuals deliberately withholding payments when they are in a position to service their debt in hope of gaining concessions from lenders, is wholly anecdotal and not based on any robust, structured, or in-depth analysis of the situation”
This then begs the question : where is this analysis? So far as I am aware there is none. A proper analysis of the issue of strategic or wont pay default would require the following, I contend.
Now, it may be that this is already underway. But if its not then it should be. I am perfectly happy to undertake this research pro-bono, and I am sure that other academics would help. This information, the bare knowledge of who is defaulting and why, needs to be surfaced. We cannot devise strategies if we dont know the problem. We cant simply map the situation in the USA, with wildly different legal and economic systems, to Ireland.