Democracy Dies in Darkness

Where We Live

Does your city rank among the places with the most or least paid-off home mortgages?

October 11, 2018 at 5:30 AM

iStock (istockphoto/istockphoto)

While a “burn the mortgage” party before retirement used to be a popular concept, a recent survey by mortgage banker American Financing found that 44 percent of homeowners between the ages of 60 and 70 have a mortgage when they retire. Although some people prefer not to pay off their loan before they retire, others struggle because of high housing costs.

LendingTree, an online lender, recently ranked cities throughout the United States to determine which ones have the most homeowners who own their property free and clear, either because they bought with cash or they paid their mortgage in full.

The three cities with the lowest percentage of paid-off homes are Seattle and Virginia Beach, each at 22 percent; and the District, where just 23 percent of homeowners have 100 percent equity.

Related: Yes, you should pay off your mortgage before retiring.

While D.C. and Seattle are known for expensive housing costs, Virginia Beach has lower home values. LendingTree found that the high number of mortgage-holders exist in Virginia Beach because the city has a high number of younger military personnel who often were able to buy without a down payment through the VA loan program.

The cities where more homes are paid off include Detroit, where 55 percent of residences are owned without a mortgage. LendingTree says that mortgage lenders have historically viewed housing in the city as risky and that discriminatory practices excluded many people from loans. In addition, the low cost of housing, particularly in blighted areas of the city after the recession, meant that more buyers were able to purchase with cash.

In Miami, where 52 percent of homes are owned free and clear, many foreign buyers have purchased property with cash. In Las Vegas, where 48 percent of homes are owned without a mortgage, a higher ratio of residences are owned by investors who typically pay cash.

According to ATTOM Data Solutions, a research and analytics firm based in Irvine, Calif., 35 percent of homeowners nationwide have 100 percent equity in their properties.

To see the full report, click here.

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