How do Americans' credit scores differ by housing tenure? The Urban Institute decided to find out by analyzing credit bureau and property records data. Researchers Wei Li and Laurie Goodman divided the adult population into six tenure types, listed below in order of size...
1. Renters without a mortgage in past 16 years (39% of adults)
2. Owners with a mortgage now (27% of adults)
3. Owners with a mortgage in past 16 years but not now (12% of adults)
4. Renters with a mortgage in past 16 years but not now (8% of adults)
5. Owners without a mortgage in past 16 years (9% of adults)
6. Renters with a mortgage now (5% of adults)
The researchers then examined the demographics, credit use, and credit scores of each tenure type. Owners with a mortgage in the past 16 years but no mortgage now (12 percent of adults) had the highest credit score, a median of 785. Renters without a mortgage in the past 16 years (39 percent of adults) had the lowest credit score—a median of 619. Notes the study: "52 percent of all renters have a credit score below 650, generally not high enough to qualify for a mortgage."
Source: Urban Institute, Comparing Credit Profiles of American Renters and Owners