April 1, 2022 — Issue Brief

During the Great Recession, borrowers who had entered into second mortgages with predatory terms, such as interest rates that adjusted upward after only a few months, often found themselves unable to make the payments. Because housing values had dropped so much, and foreclosure on a second mortgage results in payment to the lender only if money is left over after the first mortgage is paid in full, these lenders typically did not foreclose. Many lenders eventually sold the loans to debt buyers who let the mortgages continue like sleeping zombies on the borrowers’ homes, in the hopes that property values would increase.