Kelly Leighton

Last Updated: October 10, 2018 | View all posts by Kelly Leighton

Student loan debt continues to be one of the top challenges to homeownership, especially to women and millennials.

According to NeighborWorks America’s sixth annual national housing survey, 59 percent of millennials knew someone who had to put off buying a home thanks to student loan debt. This is compared to just 36 percent of all ages. And for those with student loan debt, 85 percent said they worry about that debt at least some of the time, if not all of the time.

More specifically, women are more likely to have student loan debt, compared to men, at 29 and 23 percent, respectively. And half of women reported they worry about their student loan debt some or all of the time. More than half of millennials (57 percent) have student loan debt, and 56 percent of those worry about it some or more of the time.

Research conducted for PAR showed that 56 percent of Pennsylvanians identified college student loans as an obstacle to homeownership. And a study by LendEDU ranked Pennsylvania as having the highest average college loan debt per borrower at $35,185.

Homeownership is still a goal most people want to achieve, however. Eighty percent of respondents, including 68 percent of millennials, reported they believe that owning a home will increase financial stability.

“This is just one of the reasons that PAR has been urging legislators to pass the First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account legislation,” said PAR’s President Todd Umbenhauer. “This type of program will provide an incentive for people to save for a home and help to overcome the obstacles they face. We’re encouraging Realtors® to contact their legislators to pass this legislation.”

Beyond student loan debt, there are other obstacles still impacting would-be buyers. Less than half of respondents (44 percent) said where they live is affordable for first-time buyers, while 62 percent believe the rent prices in their area are too high to be able to save to buy a home. Of renters, which represent nearly one-third of adults, only 10 percent said they could definitely  afford a down payment for a home.

Additionally, 73 percent of consumers said that they believe the homebuying process is complicated. In Pennsylvania, PAR’s Welcome Home survey revealed that selling their previous homes and paperwork requirements are significantly more stressful for new Pennsylvania homebuyers than they were a year ago. Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed said these were the most stressful part of the homebuying experience, an increase of 300 percent in just one year.