According to the Census Bureau’s report (§963 Mortgage Characteristics – Owner Occupied Units), as of 2007 when the most recent data was available, the United States had 75,647,000 owner-occupied households. Of these, 24,885,000 had no mortgage. That is, not a single penny was owed the bank and the homeowner had total equity in the property.
That means 32.896% of owner-occupied households own their property outright and have no mortgage.
Now, these figures were from before the housing crisis but that shouldn’t matter because it seems like a good bet that if you owe nothing on your house, you can’t have the bank foreclose on it, can you? No matter what the market value of your home is, nobody can kick you out, as long as you pay your property taxes, which are often a fraction of the value of a residence.
To put that into perspective, imagine walking into a room of 100 homeowners that represents a cross-section of the United States. Statistically, 33 of the people in that room would have no mortgage. They would make no payment to the bank and they own their home outright. The other 67 people would have a mortgage.
There’s a downside to paying off a mortgage. I can no longer itemize items on my tax returns because I lack the necessary amount of valid deductions. The amount allowed by the IRS for a single taxpayer with only one personal deduction (self) and no home mortgage is beyond miserly—it’s pathetic. However, so far I have managed to overcome the impulse to purchase a home with a huge mortgage in order to claim the interest exemption, thereby reducing my taxes.
I realize that the option of upgrading to a larger home in an exclusive neighborhood—The Dominion in San Antonio, for example, something comparable to the home of NBA star David Robinson or that of George
Strait of country music fame, but the savings would not justify the horrors of relocating and besides, I would probably walk away from the mortgage a few months later having exhausted my savings—okay, one month.
I suppose I could search for a soul-mate (a female, naturally, or a male unnaturally—just a bit of humor there) for marriage and thereby decrease my taxes by doubling my exemptions, or even adopt a few wayward children, perhaps three or four orphans thereby tripling, quadrupling or quintupling my exemptions. Of course, if I chose any of those options I would probably wind up living in my backyard storage shed, even if I only opted for the soul-mate—bummer!
In support of my decision I have artfully crafted a poem, dedicated to those left alone by the love of their life passing from this realm to another (the dedication is extended to such persons still burdened by a mortgage).
A most heroic poem,
and beautifully made
I will remain alone
in my debt-free home
with my senior discount
until I tire of riding single
after riding double so long,
and I surrender the reins
of this unruly mount
that I travel on.
The next horse I ride
I hope will have wings
as befitting a king.
Pegasus would do
but I follow a rule,
I’ll take what is offered
though it be a mule,
But whichever life brings,
I refuse to board
unless it has wings.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.