A generation ago, a house was more than a house.
It was part of the "American dream." And foreclosure was a horrifying but unlikely prospect for families who plunked down their savings and took out mortgages to become homeowners.
But a two-year recession has driven foreclosures to a record pace. For many families whose homes are worth far less than what they owe, financial and emotional stress is changing the "stay-at-all-costs" mindset.
In areas hardest hit by plunging real-estate values -- including the San Joaquin Valley -- some people who can afford their mortgage are opting to walk away from their loan and let their bank repossess the house.
"It's very stressful to get to that point," said James Graham, a 48-year-old power-plant worker who walked away from his home in Bakersfield last fall. "You're raised up to do the right thing and pay your mortgage, pay your bills."
Read the complete story at fresnobee.com