Will Mortgage Debt Cripple Your Retirement?

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Debt has no age limit. The chains of credit will wrap themselves around any consumer that is willing and able to hold the weight at a specific point in time. Many people strive to escape the burden of debt by retirement age, but a record number of older Americans are saddled with mortgage debt.

While the home ownership rate among those age 65 and older remained relatively constant over the past decade, the percentage of homeowners with mortgages increased significantly. According to a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 30 percent of older Americans carried mortgage debt in 2011, up from 22 percent in 2001. Making matters worse, the number of mortgages among those 75 and older has more than doubled.

“The CFPB reviewed a number of studies, and found that the refinancing boom of the early 2000s, among other things, contributed to this trend. Other factors include a general trend among Americans to buy their first home later in life, provide small down payments on home purchases, and borrow against their home equity to pay for a variety of expenses,” the report explained. “As a result of carrying increased mortgage debt, many older Americans have accrued less home equity than their age group did a decade ago. Less home equity means less accumulated net wealth for many consumers.”

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