Nearly 40 percent of all residential properties in the United States, both owner-occupied and rental units are not mortgaged but are owned free and clear, a Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Census Bureau study revealed today.

The new report, Residential Finance Survey: 2001, also said that because of the refinance boom and residential mobility, 60 percent of all mortgages in the United States for single-family properties originated within the four years prior to the survey.

The survey looks at all privately owned, non-farm properties and all sources of mortgage financing. Data collection involved interviews with the owner-occupants and owners of rental properties with further data collection from the holders of the mortgage loans. The source for estimates in the report, the Survey of Residential Finance, is part of the decennial Census.

About a quarter of all mortgages are insured or guaranteed by private mortgage insurance companies, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veteran’s Administration (VA), Rural Housing Service, or state agencies, the study found.

Between 1991 and 2001, total mortgage debt outstanding increased by more than 80 percent, HUD said. (Residential mortgage debt has continued to grow since the survey and has increased another 50 percent between 2001 and the first quarter of 2005 according to Federal Reserve statistics.)

Installment loans used to finance manufactured or mobile homes are predominately supplied by finance companies, the report said.

The survey also collected information on the characteristics of the housing units or properties, including: location, year built, year acquired, purchase price and current value, age restrictions, recent capital improvements, and any receipt of subsidy or assistance. The basic demographics of the owners were collected including: age, race, sex, Hispanic/Latino origin, veteran status and income.

The main purpose of the survey was to collect information about mortgage financing. The report contains information for all first mortgages including application method, reasons for refinancing, amounts and uses of cash-outs, year of origination, use of mortgage insurance or guarantees, type of mortgage, and a number of other elements.

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