• Student debt impacts first-time buyers the most.
  • Rapidly rising home prices are also affecting first-time buyers.
  • The average age when Americans get married is rising. This is notable because marriage is a precursor to homeownership.

Potential first-time home buyers are still encountering several obstacles when considering a purchase.

These obstacles include student debt, according to a recent survey from NeighborWorks America, an organization focused on affordable housing.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 57 percent of respondents acknowledged having student loans that are either “very much” or “somewhat” of an obstacle. In 2014, this percentage stood at 49 percent.

A recent Zillow report found student loan debt doesn’t lessen graduates’ chances of owning a home, but it can delay homeownership.


The report found that the more advanced someone’s degree, the greater odds they will own a home — even if significant debt has been taken on.

A married couple with one person holding a master’s degree and $50,000 in student loans has a 75 percent chance of homeownership. A similar household with a bachelor’s degree and $10,000 in loans has a 69 percent chance of homeownership.

NeighborWorks’ survey pointed to two additional items that may slow the housing market moving forward — a decline in the nationwide marriage rate and home price growth.

Roughly 43 percent of respondents plan to purchase a home when they “got married or moved in with a life partner.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of first marriage has increase to 29.3 for men and 27 for women.

“It’s clear the housing market is directly affected by many factors, and these forces identified in our survey are putting strong downward pressure on growth,” said Paul Weech, president and CEO of NeighborWorks America.

Email Erik Pisor.

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