DEFINITION of 'Jingle Mail'

Jingle mail refers to a situation in which a homeowner mails the house keys to a mortgage lender because of an inability to make the mortgage payment. If a homeowner owes more on a house than the house is worth, he may choose to walk away from the property and relinquish it to the lender instead of going through the foreclosure process.

BREAKING DOWN 'Jingle Mail'

If a homeowner has difficulty making mortgage payments, is unable to refinance the mortgage, and has no equity — or negative equity — in the home, he may believe there is no choice but to go through foreclosure. To shortcut this process, the homeowner may move out and send the house keys to the mortgage lender.

The term jingle mail was first used to describe the surprise mailings that mortgage lenders received following the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s. This term resurfaced during the housing and subprime mortgage collapse of 2007-2009.

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