Home Sales Drop Could It Be Due to Student Debt Crisis?October 31, 2018
An eager young couple working together to afford their first home, a young family moving back in with the in-laws, or a recent college grad moving back home after school. These are the stories that have become oh so common in the United States. As the student loan debt crisis in America continues to grow, the homeownership rate has fallen specifically in younger generations. Student loan debt has increased to $1.5 Trillion in 2018 according to the Federal Reserve Bank. The sales for homes continues to decline hitting its’ lowest number since 2015 according to a study by National Association of Realtors. According to the survey, more than seven in ten student loan borrowers believe that student loan debt has impacted their ability to purchase a home or take a vacation.
Many adult children have had to move home and put off their own dreams to pay down education costs like student loan debt. The daydream of one day buying their first home is becoming just that, a dream. Due to the immense amount of debt acquired during college, it just doesn’t seem possible for people to own their own homes. Let’s take a look at factors affecting borrowers and how they are dealing with housing due to student loan debt.
Is it possible that student loan borrowers have been placed in tough financial situations in part because of the Federal government’s model for the loans they provided during the 90s and 2000s? The Federal Government provided Stafford and Perkins loans to everyone at the same rate regardless of credit history. If you took out a loan with a private borrower, that lender would evaluate your ability to pay that loan back and would provide you with an amount they saw as acceptable. When providing loans to everybody regardless of credit history, the risk to the borrower is increased. Private institutions operate under guidelines and regulations that require they have “some skin in the game” to prevent risky lending.
Many borrowers see public service and not-for-profit jobs as a promising opportunity. Borrowers accept jobs in the public and nonprofit sector hoping to have their Federal student loans forgiven, not realizing the stringent requirement for eligibility to the Public Loan Forgiveness Program. A recent report released on Septembers 19, 2018 by the Federal Student Aid a Department of the U.S. showed that 99% of borrowers have been rejected for the program. News of the rejection has borrowers feeling helpless with a lack of financial literacy.
Only one in five borrowers understood all the costs including tuition, fees, and housing according to the NAR survey. Borrowers were using loans for tuitions costs and did not fully understand the amount in which they were borrowing. The lack of responsibility on the borrower can be on part due to the lack of financial understanding and education. Financial literacy continues to become a recurring theme throughout the student loan debt crisis. Many borrowers lack the financial know-how for the most efficient ways to pay down student loan debt. The financial knowledge needed to handle debt, and the rising cost of college tuition has not worked to the advantage of student loan debt borrowers. According to the survey, 32% of student loan borrowers had defaulted or entered into forbearance on their student loan debt.
Forbearance, deferment, Income-Based Repayment, and student loan grace period are commonly used when paying down student loan debt. What most borrowers don’t know is that unless you have a specific type of federal student loan debt, interest is accruing during this time period. The interest that accrues on your loan during these repayment periods can really end up costing you in the long run. In addition to the lack of knowledge on how to handle the debt, borrowers are unaware of opportunities like student loan refinancing.
Paying Down Debt & Housing
Now that we understand a bit more about how student loan debt has gotten to where it is now let’s see how borrowers are dealing with the debt and what their housing situations look like.
Moving Back Home
We all know at least one or maybe two young people who have moved back in with a family member after graduating from college. It has become fairly common for college graduates to move back home due to the vast amount of debt and “empty nest” syndrome parents often face. What can differ between households is whether the graduate pay rent to the family or friend in which they have moved in with.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics student loan debt has grown from 5% to 30% of all household debt. Since 2008 the cost of college has risen. This increase in debt has caused an increase in renting. Equifax surveyed millennial renters asking why they didn’t buy a home and 55.7% of respondents listed “student loan debt/not enough money saved” as their reason for renting. If a student loan debt holder can afford a mortgage payment typically they cannot save for the down payment that is required.
Potential homebuyers are having trouble finding homes they can afford according to CNBC. Due to this difficulty, many people are finding themselves renting for longer periods than they would have hoped. National apartment occupancy sits at 95% as of 2017.
The Housing Market
As mortgage rates continue to increase so too, does the cost of homes. Both these factors continue to cause a drop in the sales. For example, sales of single-family homes, co-ops, and condominiums have dropped 3.4% from the prior month. Houses have become unaffordable and those with student loan debt cannot find the additional savings for the down payment needed. This drop in home sales could have a strong effect on the market.
Employer Benefit Programs
First-time homebuyers should not feel discouraged as there are still many options available. Employers have been stepping up to help employees who are carrying student loan debt by offering benefit student loan debt assistance programs. These programs help borrowers receive resources that they need to pay down debt faster. In addition, the programs give employers the ability to share contributions towards the student loan debt of their employees.
Student Loan Refinancing
Borrowers with above 650 credit score and steady income may qualify to refinance their student loan debt. Refinancing student loan debt would allow borrowers to select their repayment terms and could offer a lower interest rate. A lower interest rate on student loans could save thousands over the life of the loan.
Secondary institutions and lenders need to better educate borrowers on terms and best practices on paying down debt. The more resources that can be provided to borrowers the better off that borrower is. In addition, borrowers should not count on qualifying for the Public Student Loan Forgiveness program. Financial literacy also should be addressed to students at young ages. The more we can educate our youth of responsible lending the better off the United States economy can be.
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