Twenty-one million Americans - or nearly 30 percent of homeowners - are mortgage-free, according to data from Seattle-based Zillow.
Despite the slump in the housing market the last five years, the number of homeowners without a mortgage in the third quarter of 2012 was about the same as it was in 2000.
Markets with a higher median age and lower median home price tended to have the highest number of homeowners who are mortgage-free.
Among the nation's 30 largest metro areas included in the study Pittsburgh (38.6 percent), Tampa (33.2 percent), New York (29.7 percent), Cleveland (29.4 percent) and Miami (28.9 percent) had the highest percentage of free-and-clear homeowners. Washington, D.C. (15.5 percent), Atlanta (17.7 percent), Las Vegas (18.3 percent), Denver (18.5 percent) and Charlotte (20 percent) had the lowest percentage.
Seattle checked in at 21 percent, slightly lower than both San Francisco (21.8 percent) and San Diego (21.5).