While prospective homebuyers are grappling with still-elevated mortgage rates, a growing share of Americans are enjoying being mortgage-free.
In 2022, nearly 40% of U.S. homeowners owned their homes outright, according to Census Bureau data analyzed by Bloomberg. In total, 33.3 million single-family homes and condos were mortgage-free, a 31% increase compared to 25.4 million homes a decade ago.
People aged 65 or older owned 33% of the 84.6 million owner-occupied homes in 2022, up 4.6 percentage points from 2012, according to Bloomberg’s analysis. It’s worth noting that this figure doesn’t include the youngest baby boomers (people aged 59 to 64 in 2023), so the share of homeownership among all baby boomers is likely much higher.
Significant drops in mortgage rates on 30-year fixed loans in the early 1990s, and, again, more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed millions of American homeowners to refinance their loans multiple times.
Some mortgage borrowers were able to switch to shorter-term mortgages, such as a 15-year loan, allowing them to pay off their homes faster at lower rates. At the same time, home prices surged after the Great Recession, increasing home equity levels to record highs, Bloomberg found.
Nearly two-thirds of homes without a mortgage in the U.S. were paid off over 21 years or more, according to data compiled by ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm.