Student Loan Debt Preventing Consumers From Buying First Homes

First-time home buyers accounted for only a third of the homes purchased over the last year. The below-average number is thanks in part to American’s growing student loan debt. With high monthly payments and increased credit risk, student loan debt is keeping some first-time home buyers from entering the housing market; a trend that doesn’t appear to be turning around anytime soon.

Officials with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau say rising student debt, along with its implications on the housing market, could prove to be one of the most painful aftershocks of the Great Recession, the Washington Post reports.

Housing experts say the decline has to do with student loan debt carried by prospective homeowners. Student loan debt has tripled from a decade ago; an unsurprising figure considering tuition continues to increase year after year. Today, 71% of students leave college with an average of $29,400 in student loan debt.

Consumers with student loan debt face an uphill battle when it comes to purchasing a home thanks in part to a new federal rules that went into effect last month. The new rule gives mortgage lenders broad legal protections as long as they do not approve loans for buyers whose total months debt exceeds 43% of their monthly gross income.

Additionally, the Federal Housing Administration is looking to scrap a waiver that helped many first-time home buyers in the past. Currently, the agency allows mortgage lenders it works with to ignore student loans debt that’s been deferred a year or more when assessing a borrower’s eligibility for a loan.

Not only does higher student loan debt make for more high-risk borrowers, but higher monthly payments on loans means more consumers are struggling to scrap together enough money for a down payment. The National Association of Realtors reported that 54% of first-time home buyers said student loans made it tough to save money.

A recent Georgetown graduate told the Post that with $75,000 in student debt she struggled for years to come up with a down payment on a condominium. Finally, her parents came to her rescue.

Fellow first-time homebuyers are finding other ways to reduce their debt, such as going to work in developing countries for tax benefits or selling advertising on their graduation caps.

Student debt may hurt housing recovery by hampering first-time buyers [The Washington Post]

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