CFPB report indicates mortgage debt may threaten retirement security

DebtThe CFPB released a report on Wednesday that indicated rising mortgage debt may make it more difficult for older Americans to retire and keep up with monthly expenses.

According to the report, the number of consumers age 65 and older who owe on mortgages rose 36 percent between 2001 and 2011. Data from the Federal Reserve showed the number of consumers over age 75 with mortgage debt more than doubled to reach more than 21 percent over the same period.

The report showed older consumers owe more than other age groups on their mortgages relative to the value of their home compared to 10 years ago. The outstanding balance on mortgages for older consumers relative to the value of their homes rose from 30 percent to 46 percent between 2001 and 2011.

Additionally, the report examined foreclosure rates among older Americans, showing the percentage of older homeowners seriously delinquent in paying their mortgage increased five-fold, and the rate was even higher for homeowners age 75 and older.

Between 2007 and 2011, foreclosure rates rose from approximately 0.3 percent to 2.6 percent for consumers between the ages of 65 and 74 and from approximately 0.3 percent to 3.2 percent for consumers age 75 and older.

Complaint data detailed in the report showed one in three complaints submitted by older Americans related to mortgages—the most common complaints were related to issues consumers faced when they were unable to make payments.

“The increased mortgage debt load is having substantial financial consequences on many [older Americans],” the CFPB report said. “For example, the resulting increase in housing costs is straining the monthly budgets of millions of retirees. Consequently, among other things, many older Americans when carrying a mortgage have remained in the work force for longer than they expected.”

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