Thought about bailing on your mortgage now that you home is worth a lot less than you paid for it? You're not the only one, buster.
Borrowers who owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth and who are paying more each month than a comparable rental benefit financially from strategic default. Few dispute that. The arguments against strategic default appeal to ethics and morality, and the counter-arguments either deny there is a moral component or argue that the greater moral duty is to the family. There is one financial argument against strategic default: the house will go up in value, and by defaulting now, the borrower will not obtain that appreciation equity in the future.
The appreciation argument is a fantasy. Prices are currently falling, and with the abundance of inventory which needs to be cleared from the system, there is little hope of sustained appreciation to restore underwater borrowers to an equity position any time soon. However, the concerted efforts of bullshitting realtors and lenders serves to foster denial in kool-aid intoxicated owners. If it became widely known and accepted that prices were going to drop for a few more years and appreciation would be tepid thereafter, many loan owners who would benefit from strategic default would do so, and the banks would be destroyed.