Living Rent Free

The housing crisis, crash and subsequent pressure to forestall foreclosures keeps people in their homes even though they aren’t making payments.  The average time to foreclosure has drastically increased during the recent recession, rising from three to six months to over a year in some cases.  This has had an interesting side effect: A lot of the marginal consumers are saving quite a bit of money on rent.  There are about 7.8 million mortgages that are delinquent or foreclosed. If average monthly payments are around $700 then these people are in aggregate potentially saving 65 billion dollars a year. This works out to 0.65% of 2009 personal consumption expenditures.  This helps explain how consumption has held up even in the face of declining credit, as the most marginal consumers who are cut off from credit are the same ones that are potentially living rent free.