The Impact of Changing Times and Lifetime Debt

Housing will be harder to sell if American consumers are already struggling with other debt.

In days past, most people’s attainable life plan and goal was to graduate high school, attend college, get a job, buy a starter home, advance their career, purchase a long-term home, and retire. Today, things are neither as simple nor as attainable.

We are now beginning to see the full impact of high rates of student loan debt among Gen X-ers and Millennials.

Student debt in the U.S. surpassed $1.5 trillion in 2018, and research from Zillow has revealed that adults carrying student loan debt have about $92,440 less purchasing power than those without student debt.

Student debt in the U.S. surpassed $1.5 trillion in 2018

Alongside the decreased purchasing power when applying for a mortgage, individuals carrying student loan debt similarly struggle putting together down payments.

Research has also shown a potential correlation between student debt and foreclosure rates. Among renters planning to purchase homes, 33.9% currently carry student loan debt, according to Zillow.

Among older generations, Housing Wire recently reported that the number of homeowners over 65 who still have a mortgage doubled between 1989 and 2016 to 41%.

A Harvard study entitled Housing America’s Older Adults revealed that many older adults today are burdened by housing costs and are unprepared for retirement. The study also revealed that 9.7 million 65+ households spent more than 30% of their incomes on housing, with 4.9 million paying over half their income on housing.

The authors of the study expressed that, given the current population growth and increasing longevity, these issues are likely to grow only more serious.

Many older adults today are burdened by housing costs and are unprepared for retirement.

A possible reprieve is in the works in Ohio in a recently proposed bill that aims to incentivize graduates to remain in Ohio by cancelling out student loan debt for those who purchase a home. The hope is that this bill will benefit low- to middle-income families, stabilize Ohio neighborhoods, and bring a boost to their struggling housing market. The bill was inspired by a similar successful program in Maryland.

Millennials have long complained about the burden of student loans, and the full implications of the rising levels of debt on Americans are beginning to become clear.

But Millennials aren’t the only ones struggling; older generations have also found their housing burdens substantially increasing. This is a problem that is likely to increase, for all generations, spelling difficulty not only for American households, but for other industries as well — housing included.

There are possible solutions, however. Maryland and Ohio provide examples. And for everyone’s good, this is a problem we will need to address nationwide, or our burden will only grow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *