Student loan debt and high rent prices continue to burden the homeownership outlook, according to data from the fourth annual housing survey from NeighborWorks America. The national telephone survey found nearly one-third (30 percent) of Americans know someone who has delayed the purchase of a home because of student loan debt, up from 28 percent in 2015 and just 24 percent in 2014. More than half (53 percent) of potential homebuyers with student loan debt said the debt was somewhat or very much an obstacle to buying a home, down slightly from 57 percent in 2015, but above the 49 percent rate in 2014. Meanwhile, 56 percent of people said that rents are too high where they live to save enough to purchase a home.
Rising home prices and rents are especially affecting student loan holders who want to be homeowners. When asked about their next housing choice given current market conditions, 29 percent of people with student debt said they expect to rent again, while only 17 percent of people without student debt said their next move would be to rent.
Nearly 60 percent of renters wish that their next housing move would be into homeownership.
Housing affordability weighs on homeownership
Americans are split on housing affordability in their own neighborhoods. Forty-five percent of those polled agree that homes in their market are unaffordable to first time homebuyers, while 50 percent say that homes are affordable. But while there is nearly an even split about affordability, rental costs clearly are an obstacle to homeownership. Fifty-six percent of people agree that rents in their area are too high for a person to save for a future home, and just 37 percent disagree.
Better awareness of down payment assistance programs and student loan debt counseling could help affordability. For example, the survey found that 71 percent of Americans are not aware of or unsure about the down payment assistance open to middle class homebuyers, up slightly from 67 percent in 2015. In addition, 77 percent of those with student debt never heard of or are not familiar with loan counseling programs from nonprofits.
These programs could help a consumer manage their student debt and provide information about down-payment assistance programs that could increase the possibility of qualifying and obtaining affordable and sustainable homeownership.
Source: NeighborWorks America