Relying on an analysis of 2016 census data, the Seattle Times reports that 25 percent of Seattle homeowners own their homes outright, free and clear of mortgages, loans for HOA special assessments or other publicly reported encumbrances.
As of 2016, nearly 42,000 homeowners went about their daily lives with one less big check to write, but also had to pay property insurance and tax bills directly, rather than letting the mortgage company handle these details.
What is clear from the data is Seattle residents who are over 65 make up nearly 50% of mortgage-free homeowners while people between 55 and 64 account for 27.3% of this category. That this older cohort totals over 75% of the demographic makes sense given that most people buy homes with 30-year mortgages and tend to pay them off on schedule if they continue to live in the home.
What is somewhat more surprising is the nearly 6% of young homeowners included in the data. Around 2,400 Seattle homeowners under 35 years old had no mortgage debt as of 2016.
While there were no clear statistics of how these homeowners achieved the financial goal, there could be multiple reasons. Some may have inherited homes from parents or grandparents, others may have taken the opportunity to buy condos or other distressed properties immediately following the market crash in 2008, and others may have leveraged high tech sector wages to buy small condos well within their means before the market started heating up in 2013.
Regardless of how it is achieved, having no mortgage is a nice place to be financially.