Which States Have the Most Mortgage-Free Homeowners?

Which States Have the Most Mortgage-Free Homeowners?

Homeownership is one of the marquee features of the American Dream. But how many Americans actually own their homes?

Most house hunters don’t arrive at the closing table with a briefcase full of Benjamins. Nor are they as lucky as that kid from the forgotten ’90s classic Blank Check. (P.S. There’s no way he could buy that house for only $300,000. Not even in ’94.)

Most of us need a mortgage—otherwise known as a home loan.

Over 62% of US homes carry a mortgage,1 but some states have a much higher percentage of mortgage-free homes than others. So which states reign supreme as the most mortgage free of all?

Read on to learn who we ranked as the most mortgage-free states in America.

Factors we considered

Using the US Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, we looked at three factors to determine our rankings:

  • The total number of owner-occupied housing units in each state
  • The percentage of owner-occupied housing units with a mortgage
  • The percentage of owner-occupied housing units without a mortgage

After collecting each state’s percentage of owner-occupied housing units with and without a mortgage, we ranked them from highest to lowest percentage of mortgage-free homes.

To learn more about how we calculated our rankings, check out our methodology section.

#1: West Virginia

West Virginia’s homeowners lead the pack with an astonishingly high mortgage-free rate of 54%. In fact, the Mountain State boasts 3% more mortgage-free homes than our runner-up, Mississippi.

West Virginia’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
1518,88245.94%54.06%
Rank
1
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
518,882 45.94% 54.06%

#2: Mississippi

Fun fact: Pine-Sol was developed in 1929 by Mississippi native Harry Cole.2

Another fun fact: Mississippi has the second-most mortgage-free homes in the nation—and nothing smells better than a paid-for home.

Mississippi’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
2748,05549.11%50.89%
Rank
2
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
748,055 49.11% 50.89%

#3: Louisiana

Louisiana is the first state in our top ten to drop below the 50% threshold for households with no mortgage debt, but a 47% mortgage-free rate is still impressive.

To put it in perspective, Louisiana’s 536,000 paid-for homes could house the entire population of Sacramento and then some.3 As Oprah might put it, “You get a house! And you get a house! And…” You get the picture.

Louisiana’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
31,132,22952.69%47.31%
Rank
3
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
1,132,229 52.69% 47.31%

#4: New Mexico

Although the majority of states in our top ten are located in the southeastern and midwestern US, the Land of Enchantment represents the West in our fourth spot.

Roughly 46% of owner-occupied homes in New Mexico are paid off.

New Mexico’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
4521,45053.63%46.37%
Rank
4
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
521,450 53.63% 46.37%

#5: North Dakota

Tired of bustling cities and noisy neighbors? Well, look no further than North Dakota.

The Roughrider State has the fewest owner-occupied housing units in our top ten, and nearly 90% of its land is made up of farmland and ranches.4

Not only do its residents enjoy peace and quiet, but they also enjoy peace of mind: Over 45% of North Dakota’s homes are mortgage free.

North Dakota’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
5200,55454.50%45.50%
Rank
5
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
200,554 54.50% 45.50%

#6: Oklahoma

It turns out Sooners tend to pay off their mortgages sooner rather than later.

More than 45% of Oklahoma’s homes are owned free and clear. That means over 400,000 households get to skip their mortgage bills every month.

Oklahoma’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
6962,48354.75%45.25%
Rank
6
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
962,483 54.75% 45.25%

#7: Arkansas

There couldn’t be a better nickname than the Land of Opportunity for a state with such a high number of paid-for homes.

Arkansas ranks at number seven on our list with a mortgage-free rate of nearly 45%.

Arkansas’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
7752,39955.31%44.69%
Rank
7
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
752,399 55.31% 44.69%

#8: South Dakota

South Dakota lands behind Arkansas in our rankings—but just barely. With a mortgage-free rate of 44.64%, Bob Barker’s home state is only 0.05% shy of nabbing the seventh spot.

Judging by the number of paid-off homes, we’d certainly say the price is right in South Dakota.

South Dakota’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
8233,09255.36%44.64%
Rank
8
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
233,092 55.36% 44.64%

#9: Alabama

Although it comes first when you sing the lyrics to “Fifty Nifty United States,” Alabama is ninth on our list.

Over 43% of Alabama’s owner-occupied homes are owned outright—which means more than 547,000 homes in the Heart of Dixie are mortgage-free.

Alabama’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
91,253,19956.35%43.65%
Rank
9
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
1,253,199 56.35% 43.65%

#10: Florida

Florida has by far the most owner-occupied housing units in our top ten. It also has the most without a mortgage: a staggering 2.2 million. That’s nearly as many paid-for homes as the total number of homes in our top three states combined.

Since our rankings are based on the percentage of mortgage-free homes in each state, however, Florida rounds out our top ten.

Florida’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
105,010,18756.88%43.12%
Rank
10
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
5,010,187 56.88% 43.12%

States with the fewest mortgage-free homes

41. Connecticut
42. Washington
43. Virginia
44. Nevada
45. Rhode Island
46. Massachusetts
47. California
48. Utah
49. Colorado
50. Maryland

#41: Connecticut

New England is a notoriously expensive place to live, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to several states in our bottom ten.

Only about 32% of Connecticut’s owner-occupied homes are paid for. That’s 11% fewer than our number ten state, Florida.

Connecticut’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
41898,23468.05%31.95%
Rank
41
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
898,234 68.05% 31.95%

#42: Washington

On the opposite side of the country, you’ll find our next state: Washington. With a paltry 31.18%, the Evergreen State ranks forty-second overall for mortgage-free homes.

Washington’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
421,783,54968.82%31.18%
Rank
42
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
1,783,549 68.82% 31.18%

#43: Virginia

Virginia comes next on our list, but it isn’t too far behind Washington. At 31.10%, Virginia’s mortgage-free rate means that just 646,000 of its 2 million owner-occupied housing units are free and clear.

Virginia’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
432,077,41768.90%31.10%
Rank
43
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
2,077,417 68.90% 31.10%

#44: Nevada

You might think that living inland would be easier on the pocketbook, but that’s not always the case.

As one of only three landlocked states in our bottom ten, Nevada has more than 427,000 mortgage-laden homes. That’s 69% of its owner-occupied units.

Nevada’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
44619,30969.01%30.99%
Rank
44
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
619,309 69.01% 30.99%

#45: Rhode Island

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the Union, but it has one of the highest percentages of homes with mortgages.

Like Nevada, over 69% of the Ocean State’s homes need to budget for mortgage payments each month.

Rhode Island’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
45248,72369.30%30.70%
Rank
45
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
248,723 69.30% 30.70%

#46: Massachusetts

Living on the coast certainly has its perks, but paying off your home doesn’t seem to be one of them.

Massachusetts is one of five East Coast states in our bottom ten, and nearly 70% of its owner-occupied homes still have a mortgage.

Massachusett’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
461,623,51569.94%30.06%
Rank
46
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
1,623,515 69.94% 30.06%

#47: California

California has over 7.1 million owner-occupied housing units. With a median home value well above the national average,5 it’s easy to see why more than 70% of those homes have a mortgage.

California’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
477,125,09070.54%29.46%
Rank
47
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
7,125,090 70.54% 29.46%

#48: Utah

Home values in the Beehive State have risen almost 14% in the last year,6 almost doubling the national average increase of 7.7%.7 And with more people moving in from out of state, fewer residents can boast that they’re mortgage free.

Utah’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
48681,56371.06%28.94%
Rank
48
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
681,563 71.06% 28.94%

#49: Colorado

Right next door to the forty-eighth state on our list is Colorado, which comes in at number forty-nine.

And much like their geographical proximity, both states’ mortgage-free rates are very close. Only 28.71% of Colorado’s homes are paid for—just 0.23% less than Utah.

Colorado’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
491,394,82471.29%28.71%
Rank
49
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
1,394,824 71.29% 28.71%

#50: Maryland

At number 50, Maryland has the lowest percentage of paid-for homes in the entire US.

Only 27% of Maryland’s owner-occupied units are free and clear, leaving well over a million of the state’s homes saddled with a mortgage.

Maryland’s homeownership data

RankOwner-occupied housing unitsHomes with a mortgage (%)Mortgage-free homes (%)
501,472,50072.87%27.13%
Rank
50
Owner-occupied housing units Homes with a mortgage (%) Mortgage-free homes (%)
1,472,500 72.87% 27.13%

Is your home paid off?

Are you one of the lucky homeowners in your state without a mortgage payment? Share the secret to your success in the comments below!

Methodology

Move.org used the US Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey to collect homeownership statistics for US residents. We focused on the total owner-occupied housing units and looked at the percentage of homes with and without a mortgage. We then ranked the states from highest to lowest percentage of owner-occupied housing units without a mortgage.

Complete state rankings for mortgage-free homes

RankStateTotal owner-occupied housing unitsPercentage of homes with a mortgagePercentage of mortgage-free homes
1West Virginia518,88245.94%54.06%
2Mississippi748,05549.11%50.89%
3Louisiana1,132,22952.69%47.31%
4New Mexico521,45053.63%46.37%
5North Dakota200,55454.50%45.50%
6Oklahoma962,48354.75%45.25%
7Arkansas752,39955.31%44.69%
8South Dakota233,09255.36%44.64%
9Alabama1,253,19956.35%43.65%
10Florida5,010,18756.88%43.12%
11Montana292,58557.12%42.88%
12South Carolina1,309,67057.61%42.39%
13Texas5,964,18357.67%42.33%
14Wyoming159,79258.11%41.89%
15Kentucky1,146,66858.25%41.75%
16Tennessee1,693,79058.87%41.13%
17Kansas743,50858.99%41.01%
18Michigan2,803,37260.23%39.77%
19Pennsylvania3,421,01760.32%39.68%
20New York3,930,03360.93%39.07%
21Nebraska500,08660.96%39.04%
22Maine395,80961.47%38.53%
23Iowa900,36261.55%38.45%
24Vermont178,40561.82%38.18%
25Missouri1,596,87061.93%38.07%
26Ohio3,070,18162.78%37.22%
27Illinois3,182,23263.08%36.92%
28North Carolina2,586,61663.09%36.91%
29Wisconsin1,565,59964.12%35.88%
30Alaska159,34464.20%35.80%
31Hawaii268,07864.24%35.76%
32Idaho435,49364.36%35.64%
33Arizona1,652,32164.42%35.58%
34Delaware253,94864.61%35.39%
35Georgia2,354,92264.95%35.05%
36Indiana1,765,50065.52%34.48%
37New Hampshire369,03765.76%34.24%
38Oregon1,007,01566.78%33.22%
39New Jersey2,053,92966.96%33.04%
40Minnesota1,547,59467.13%32.87%
41Connecticut898,23468.05%31.95%
42Washington1,783,54968.82%31.18%
43Virginia2,077,41768.90%31.10%
44Nevada619,30969.01%30.99%
45Rhode Island248,72369.30%30.70%
46Massachusetts1,623,51569.94%30.06%
47California7,125,09070.54%29.46%
48Utah681,56371.06%28.94%
49Colorado1,394,82471.29%28.71%
50Maryland1,472,50072.87%27.13%
Rank
1
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5
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20
21
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50
State Total owner-occupied housing units Percentage of homes with a mortgage Percentage of mortgage-free homes
West Virginia 518,882 45.94% 54.06%
Mississippi 748,055 49.11% 50.89%
Louisiana 1,132,229 52.69% 47.31%
New Mexico 521,450 53.63% 46.37%
North Dakota 200,554 54.50% 45.50%
Oklahoma 962,483 54.75% 45.25%
Arkansas 752,399 55.31% 44.69%
South Dakota 233,092 55.36% 44.64%
Alabama 1,253,199 56.35% 43.65%
Florida 5,010,187 56.88% 43.12%
Montana 292,585 57.12% 42.88%
South Carolina 1,309,670 57.61% 42.39%
Texas 5,964,183 57.67% 42.33%
Wyoming 159,792 58.11% 41.89%
Kentucky 1,146,668 58.25% 41.75%
Tennessee 1,693,790 58.87% 41.13%
Kansas 743,508 58.99% 41.01%
Michigan 2,803,372 60.23% 39.77%
Pennsylvania 3,421,017 60.32% 39.68%
New York 3,930,033 60.93% 39.07%
Nebraska 500,086 60.96% 39.04%
Maine 395,809 61.47% 38.53%
Iowa 900,362 61.55% 38.45%
Vermont 178,405 61.82% 38.18%
Missouri 1,596,870 61.93% 38.07%
Ohio 3,070,181 62.78% 37.22%
Illinois 3,182,232 63.08% 36.92%
North Carolina 2,586,616 63.09% 36.91%
Wisconsin 1,565,599 64.12% 35.88%
Alaska 159,344 64.20% 35.80%
Hawaii 268,078 64.24% 35.76%
Idaho 435,493 64.36% 35.64%
Arizona 1,652,321 64.42% 35.58%
Delaware 253,948 64.61% 35.39%
Georgia 2,354,922 64.95% 35.05%
Indiana 1,765,500 65.52% 34.48%
New Hampshire 369,037 65.76% 34.24%
Oregon 1,007,015 66.78% 33.22%
New Jersey 2,053,929 66.96% 33.04%
Minnesota 1,547,594 67.13% 32.87%
Connecticut 898,234 68.05% 31.95%
Washington 1,783,549 68.82% 31.18%
Virginia 2,077,417 68.90% 31.10%
Nevada 619,309 69.01% 30.99%
Rhode Island 248,723 69.30% 30.70%
Massachusetts 1,623,515 69.94% 30.06%
California 7,125,090 70.54% 29.46%
Utah 681,563 71.06% 28.94%
Colorado 1,394,824 71.29% 28.71%
Maryland 1,472,500 72.87% 27.13%

Sources

1. US Census Bureau, “American Community Survey
2. Mental Floss, “25 Major Facts About Mississippi
3. US Census Bureau, “American FactFinder—Annual Estimates of the Resident Population of 50,000 or More
4. North Dakota Tourism, “North Dakota Facts
5. Zillow, “California Home Prices and Values
6. Zillow, “Utah Home Prices and Values
7. Zillow, “United States Home Prices & Values

About Colin Holmes

Colin Holmes
Colin is no stranger to moving, having done so five times in the last five years. As a former journalist and documentary interviewer, Colin brings a wealth of research experience to improving your move.