Calif. couple shows there's life after foreclosure

Susan and Dave Edwards say they were justified in stopping payments on their underwater mortgage.
Susan and Dave Edwards say they were justified in stopping payments on their underwater mortgage.
CBS News

(CBS News) PALMDALE, Calif. -- Three years ago, Susan and Dave Edwards stopped paying the mortgage on their house in Palmdale, Calif.

Asked how tough it was to walk out the door to their home one last time, Susan says, "It wasn't tough, it was freedom."

"We've never not paid our mortgage, never, and we have been married 35 years, and we have always paid our bills," she says.

Their mortgage was $340,000, but Susan says their home's worth had dropped to $190,000.

"So we decided we just had to let it go," she says. "To walk away."

She says she and her husband were ashamed.

"We didn't talk about it at all, and I didn't want anyone to know," Susan says.

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After the bank foreclosed, their credit dropped, so they rented an apartment.

"I would have probably told you at that time, 'I will never own a house again,'" Dave says.

But then Susan heard about a Veterans Administration home loan program. Her husband was stationed in Korea during Vietnam. Even though they walked away and foreclosed on their home, Susan thought they were good customers for a loan.

Watch: Foreclosure credit for wronged homeowners, below.

"Crazy, I guess, but I did," she says. "Because I felt like we were justified in what we did, somewhat. We weren't going to do it again."

They were pre-approved the next day. They bought a house just one mile from their old one. Their new loan is $163,000 cheaper, with a 3.25% interest rate. They now pay $1,150 each month.

Asked what she would say to people who are making payments on underwater mortgages, Susan says, "Life isn't fair. We never broke the law, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I can live with that."

She also says it should give people hope that even if they lost their house, another one may be just down the road.

For more information on the financial pros and cons of bank foreclosure or strategic default, visit