Buried treasures may aid distressed owners

Selling keepsakes to supplement housing payments

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

Remember when low interest rates solved so many problems?Homeowners could refinance to lower monthly payments, easing the monthly debt load and household anxiety at the same time. Lower mortgages allowed families to pay bills not even associated with the home's principal, interest, taxes and insurance. We were in that emotional boat many times, including once in the early 1980s when double-digit inflation had us waiting for a home-loan rate of less than 12 percent. When rates came down even more, we refinanced again to make the monthly load even lighter. However, we were never forced to leave our home because of default or foreclosure; never had to downsize because we couldn't make ends meet on the housing front. I can't imagine the feelings of hurt, frustration, anger and embarrassment of today's borrowers who are no longer able to afford the roof over their heads -- especially for those who knowingly bought more home than they could afford with mortgage money that was wa...