Jessica Guerin tells us in her piece for HousingWire that 37% of homes in the US are now mortgage-free, according to the latest research by Zillow.

 Zillow’s economist Jeff Tucker said, “The biggest factor behind the rise (since 2006) in mortgage-free homes is the aging composition of homeowners. Young people saw their homeownership rates fall the most during and after the real estate crash and so the median ages of homeowners as well as first-time homebuyers have risen since then.”

Tucker predicts this trend to “level and gradually reverse” itself in the near future for two reasons. One, a large number of Baby Boomers is aging out of homeownership and “…a growing share of younger households will be buying their first homes, of which the vast majority will take out mortgages.”

Another fact of life highlighted by this nearly 40% of free and clear homes is the geographic differences in home prices. States with lower home prices have more free and clear homes. West Virginia leads the nation with 54% of its homes being mortgage-free homes. Mississippi has 51% of its homes being free and clear homes. And, Louisiana has 48% of its homes being mortgage-free homes.

Tucker said, “The states with the lowest rates are places with either less affordable homes, more young households relative to old ones, or both…”

On the other end of the spectrum, Experion, a consumer-reporting agency, identified the top 25 zip codes in the country with the highest mortgage balances in Q1 2019. Of those top 25 zip codes, the state of California had 17 of those zips. New York City was home to four zip codes with the highest mortgage balances in the country.

These 25 zip codes with the highest mortgages balances also have the highest incomes. Additionally, these zip codes are home to above average credit scores. Whereas the overall average FICO Score nationally was 703, the overall average FICO Score among these top 25 zip codes was 756.

The highest overall mortgage balance was found to be in the Beverly Hills zip code of 90210. That mortgage balance was $1,528,236, the annual income average was $157,359 and the average credit score in 90210 was 742.

How do mortgage rates look for the balance of 2019? The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts mortgage interest rates to remain below 5% throughout the end of the year.