DEAR BENNY: We’re badly underwater in our house. Our business is hurting and we are struggling to make the house payment. We owe $340,000 on a house that would maybe sell in today’s market for $200,000. We think the only way it makes sense to stay in our house would be if our mortgage holder would take a significant principal write-down, which they won’t do.

Is it legal for us to let our house fall into foreclosure and have a friend of ours buy it for us at the foreclosure price? Then he sells it back to us using a private mortgage via Virgin Money or similar organization. We pay him a premium over the rate he is currently earning on his $200,000 so that he even makes a little money and we maybe "keep" our house. We realize that there is no guarantee our friend would be able to buy the house; someone else might beat him to it or the bank might set an unreasonable price, but we don’t see any other choice except walking away completely. –Cathy

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