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Consumers More Likely to Choose Non-Mortgage Debt Over Mortgages

housing-debtAn active mortgage market is the byproduct of consumers citing homeownership as a need–or an inescapable debt that is a natural appendage to a person’s credit history.

Unfortunately, a new article from Credit.com suggests that when given a choice between different types of debt, fewer consumers take out home mortgages and are much more likely to carry other kinds of debt alone, with credit cards ranking as the most common.

The article shatters the ongoing myth that mortgages are an average part of consumer life. Unfortunately, the data compiled by the Urban Institute says there are six kinds of borrowers: those who have mortgage debt only, those who have credit card debt only, those who have no debt, those who have an auto loan and a mortgage and those who have student loan debt only and those who have an auto loan.

Surprisingly, credit card debt is the only debt for 22 percent of consumers. Meanwhile, the percentage of consumers with only a mortgage came in at 13 percent out of 5 million Americans studied.

The most common type of consumer–making up 29 percent of the analyzed pool of consumers–have no debt at all, suggesting Americans are much more risk-adverse than previously known and remain so in the wake of the mortgage market meltdown.

The takeaway for lenders: Consumers are definitely debt cautious, and it seems big ticket items lose out to smaller debts such as credit cards when borrowers decide to carry only one type of debt.

For roughly 4 percent of borrowers, student loan debt is the only debt they reported. However, the report does note that it’s likely many borrowers carry more than one type of debt, especially if they have a mortgage since they need to establish some type of credit history before qualifying for a home loan.

About Author: Kerri Panchuk

Kerri Panchuk is an attorney and financial writer with more than a decade of experience covering real estate, default servicing, residential mortgage-backed securities, retail, macroeconomics, and commercial real estate. Panchuk graduated from the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and texas Tech University, Panchuk previously served DSNews.com as online managing editor/producer and webcast anchor. In April, she rejoined the Fiver Star Institute as executive director of member groups, overseeing the development and growth of the National Appraisal Congress and Title and Closing Coalition. Panchuk is a member of the State Bar of Texas.
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