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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Underwater Homeowners May Swim Freely

Prevailing wisdom has it that homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth -- known as being "underwater" -- are forced to stay put because the property is too difficult to sell. So people who would otherwise relocate -- say, to find a job -- are "tethered to their homes ." It's a theory touted by prominent New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Harvard economist Lawrence Katz , and regularly makes appearances in the media.

But according to economist Sam Schulhofer-Wohl at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, they've all got it backwards: underwater homeowners are actually more likely to move.


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