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Mortgage debt varies by region

By Crissinda Ponder · Bankrate.com
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

Is getting a mortgage a worthwhile investment or a burden? Yes and no, according to a new savings and debt report based on a sample of more than 25,000 consumers.

On a regional level, U.S. consumers have differing views about mortgage debt. According to SaveUp's June U.S. Consumer Savings and Debt Report, average mortgage debt increased in the West by $2,791 and in the South by $1,209 from May to June, but decreased by $2,416 in the Midwest and $1,421 in the Northeast.

"The interesting thing we saw in the data here is that there's regionalized response, and certainly that's commensurate to the differences in property values in different parts of the country," says Priya Haji, CEO of SaveUp, a national online financial rewards program for saving and paying down debt.

The Midwest has the lowest amount of mortgage debt. One of the main contributors to this finding is Michigan, where the average mortgage debt per homeowner is $107,626, the report suggests.

In the West, California has a major effect on the region's average mortgage debt -- The Golden State's average mortgage debt per homeowner is $297,920.

Another interesting finding is the difference in mortgage debt between men and women. While women decreased their mortgage debt by $458, men added $1,980 on average.

"Broadly, we've seen in a lot of the data that men are more risk-taking and women are more conservative, and so the fact that women are still deleveraging, I think, is just an indication of that behavioral difference," Haji says.

There is an upward trend between generations. Generations X and Y increased their mortgage debt load from May to June by $1,043 and $643, respectively.

"Ten years ago, we would say mortgage debt was a reflection that you're investing in your future; I think post-recession, the question that a lot of people have (is), 'Is a mortgage really still a form of investment or not?'" Haji says. "I think a lot of families have experienced such a profound evaporation of household net worth through their mortgages that it changes the perception inherently of a home and of a mortgage as an asset."

Is having a mortgage still considered an asset? What are your thoughts?

Follow me on Twitter @CrissiPonder.

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