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Zillow: Nearly 1 in 3 Homeowners Clear of Mortgage Debt, Value Biggest Factor

Out of all U.S. homeowners, 29.3 percent, or 20.6 million, own their home free and clear of a mortgage, according to an analysis from ""Zillow"":http://www.zillow.com/.


Among the 30 largest metro areas, Zillow found Pittsburgh had the highest share of homeowners without mortgage debt--38.6 percent.

Tampa had the second highest rate of mortgage-free homeowners at 33.2 percent. The metro was followed by New York (29.7 percent), Cleveland (29.4 percent), and Miami (28.9 percent).

The five metros with the lowest rate of homeowners who own their mortgage were Washington, D.C. (15.5 percent), Atlanta (17.7 percent), Las Vegas (18.3 percent), Denver (18.5 percent), and Charlotte (20 percent).

Zillow also revealed what factors might influence the percentage of homeowners who own their home outright in certain areas.


For one, metro areas with lower home values tended to have a higher rate of mortgage-free homeowners since smaller loan amounts can be paid off more quickly, according to Zillow.

Age and credit rating were also contributing factors. Older homeowners who have had more time to pay off their mortgage were more likely to own their home free and clear. Zillow reported homeowners between 65 to 74 years of age are most likely be without a mortgage, with about 20.5 percent of owners in this age category considered mortgage-free.

The next age group up, 74- to 84-year-olds, were the second most likely to own their home outright. About 17.9 percent of homeowners in this age group are mortgage free.

Zillow also found homeowners with a high VantageScore were more likely to own their home with the mortgage paid off. About 44 percent of mortgage free owners have a credit rating between 800 and 900, but just 15.5 percent of homeowners with the highest credit rating of 900-990 are mortgage free.

""So far we have used our unique data on how much homeowners owe on their homes primarily to identify underwater and delinquent groups of homeowners,"" said Zillow chief economist Dr. Stan Humphries. ""But looking at those homeowners who are free-and-clear is important, too. Homeowners unencumbered by a mortgage may be more flexible than indebted homeowners, and therefore more apt or willing to list their homes or enter the market for a new property. By determining where these homeowners are located, we can also gain insight into potential inventory and demand in those areas, as well.""

Zillow's analysis was based on data analyzed through the third quarter. Mortgage data from TransUnion was also used, and the data covered 800 metro areas, 2,100 counties, and 21,900 ZIP codes nationwide.

About Author: Esther Cho


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