Lender as landlord

House Keys

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Do you own your own home or do you just pay rent to a lender instead of a landlord? The question isn't frivolous. Rather, it speaks to whether your house is a place to live or an investment, a temporary abode or a more permanent living space, real property or just a roof over your head. There are 75 million owner-occupied housing units in the United States, and of those, nearly 24 million don't have a mortgage, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. These homeowners are mortgage-free because they paid cash for their home or paid off their housing debt over time. On the flip side, there are millions of homeowners who've made little or no progress toward owning their home free and clear. Some bought their home in 2005 or 2006 with little or no down payment and a mortgage that didn't actually pay off the debt. Others made substantial down payments that have since evaporated as house values have fallen. And still others extracted all of their equity through refinancing and s...