In their latest article in the Housing Insights Series, Fannie Mae delved into which generation was most likely to carry household debt, which is a concern for the financial security of the retired homeowner.
Once a widespread rite of passage, the report says, paying off a mortgage for homeowners approaching retirement has become less frequent. Studies have shown that the rise in household debt among older homeowners, but hasn’t zeroed in on Baby Boomers and how their mortgage status has changed as they get closer to the age of retirement.
The oldest Boomers, who are already past retirement age, are substantially less likely to own their homes outright than their generational predecessor.
“Among Baby Boomer owner-occupants aged 65 to 69 in 2015, fewer than 50 percent were mortgage-free, down 10 percentage points compared with the pre-Boomer group of homeowners who were the same age in 2000, prior to the housing bubble.”
Younger Boomers, however, are more likely to have free-and-clear homeownership than homeowners of the same age in 2000. Of Boomers aged 50 to 54 in 2015, 26 percent owned their homes outright compared with 22 percent of homeowners who were the same age at the turn of the millennium.
According to Fannie Mae, several economic and housing factors could have contributed to the acceleration of paid off mortgages after the housing crisis among Boomers.
“Some Boomers might have adopted a more conservative stance toward housing debt in the wake of the financial crisis and, simultaneously, tighter credit markets likely constrained the ability to borrow against the home,” the report said.
Additionally, the recovery in housing prices and gains in equity that followed the housing bust allowed boomers to move and downsize to lower-value homes without using mortgage financing.
“Even with recently accelerated gains in free-and-clear homeownership, the oldest Baby Boomers have reached retirement age with a greater likelihood of carrying a mortgage, and younger Boomer cohorts are also expected to achieve relatively low rates of outright homeownership at retirement unless they accelerate even further the pace of extinguishing housing debt.”
To read the full report, click here.