Some stop paying mortgages even though they can afford it

The number of strategic defaults on home loans, when an owner can afford to pay the mortgage but does not as a way to cut losses on falling home value, are down from their highs in 2008 but still made up about17 percent of defaults in the first half of 2010, according to a report released this month by Experian.

The report by the credit analysis and services company says in 2008 one in five defaults, about 20 percent, were strategic.

The company predicts the number won't fall below the mid teens unless residential housing values turn around.

Experian's research says the number of strategic defaulters climbs with home values. For instance, they make up only 6 percent of those walking away from homes valued at $50,000 or less, but make up 33 percent of those refusing to pay the monthly bill on homes of $1 million or more.

Its data also says that 90 percent of strategic defaulters stay current on their other debts.

--Christopher Quinn