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Nightmare on Main Street

Older Americans and the Mortgage Market Crisis

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 for the years 2007 to 2011, this study examines loan performance based on borrower age, loan type, and borrower demographics.

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.  As of December 2011, approximately 3.5 million loans of people age 50+ were underwater—meaning homeowners owe more than their home is worth, so they have no equity; 600,000 loans of people age 50+ were in foreclosure, and another 625,000 loans were 90 or more days delinquent. From 2007 to 2011, more than 1.5 million older Americans lost their homes as a result of the mortgage crisis.

To date, public policy programs designed to stem the progression of the foreclosure crisis have been inadequate, and programs that focus on the unique needs of older Americans are needed.  

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