Older Americans who own a home are much wealthier and generally healthier than those who rent, a new study says.
The median wealth for older homeowners, those ages 65 and older, is $273,000, with about half tied to their home.
Renters are — “not surprisingly,” the authors concluded — not as well off and have median wealth of only $3,000.
Renters also face more difficulty with daily activities, even having double the rate of hip fractures than homeowners, according to the report, A Profile of Housing and Health among Older Americans.
The study, released Monday by the Research Institute for Housing America, an arm of the Mortgage Bankers Association, shows the challenges facing the government and policymakers as the country ages with the baby boomer generation.
It urged that “efforts to improve the well-being of the elderly should consider housing and health needs simultaneously.”
“Housing demand over the next decade will be significantly impacted by the aging of the U.S. population,” Mike Fratantoni, executive director of the Research Institute for Housing America, said in a prepared statement.
The study, which examined data from 2010, was co-authored by Kent State University assistant professor Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley. She could not be reached for comment.
The authors found that housing was the dominant asset in the retirement portfolios of older homeowners, with 50 percent of total wealth being in the form of housing.
“For minority and less-educated homeowners, this percentage is even higher: roughly 83 percent for both typical African-Americans and high school drop-outs,” the study says. “These households have very little wealth beyond their home.”
Whites made up 88 percent of all older homeowners, with 7 percent being African-American.
Older homeowners also are most likely married (69 percent) and have only a high school degree (34 percent).
Only 4 percent of older Americans rent, the study says. The remainder live with relatives or some other situation.
The report says older homeowners escaped the Great Recession “relatively unscathed” thanks to little mortgage debt and inflation-adjusted Social Security income.
Homeownership is important even to those 90 and older, with 53.5 percent of that population owning a home.
To read the full report online, go to www.housingamerica.org.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.