37% of US households are living mortgage-free according to a Zillow data analysis. Since the Great Recession, the share of homeowners paying off their mortgages has increased by 550 basis points.
Homeowner demographics has also drastically changed over the recent generations, causing an increase in mortgage payback. Millennials are much more likely to wait way longer to buy a home. Rapidly rising living costs and debilitating student debt has halted the home-buying process for younger Americans. This results in older Americans comprising the majority share of total homeownership. This population has had years to pay off their (much cheaper) mortgages while also building wealth in that time.
Over the duration of the last decade, US home’s median price has increased by more than 60 percent. Each state has its own set of mortgage characteristics. With that, it is apparent that states with more affordable housing typically have much higher rates of mortgage-free individuals. According to a 2017 study, West Virginia had the highest share of mortgage-free home ownership at 54%. In contrast, Maryland and DC had the lowest rates at 27% and 24%.