Nightmare on Main Street: Older Americans and the Mortgage Market Crisis

by AARP Public Policy Institute
Monday, July 30th, 2012

This is the first study to measure the progression of the mortgage crisis and its effect on people age 50 and older. Based on an analysis of nationwide loan-level data provided by CoreLogic for the years 2007 through 2011, this study examines loan performance based on borrower age, loan type, and borrower demographics. The study shows that no age group, race, or ethnicity has been spared from the effects of declining home values and the financial difficulties caused by the Great Recession and continuing economic weakness.

Despite the perception that older Americans are more housing secure than younger people, millions of older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, and more than three million are at risk of losing their homes. Although the serious delinquency rate of the under-50 population is higher than that of the over-50 population, the increase in the rate of serious delinquency of older Americans has outpaced that of younger homeowners from 2007 to 2011. 1 As the mortgage crisis continues, millions of older Americans are struggling to maintain their financial security.