American dream of homeownership delayed by debt, confusion about “complicated” homebuying process

By Kelly Leighton | Dec. 7, 2017 | 2 min. read

The American Dream still includes homeownership.

Despite lower inventory, and higher prices, Americans overwhelmingly believe that homeownership is a part of the American Dream. According to NeighborWorks America’s fifth national housing survey, 93 percent of respondents think that homeownership is one part of achieving the American Dream. Eighty-one percent said that owning a home increases financial stability.

While many Americans aspire to be homeowners, that pesky student loan debt, as well as lack of knowledge about qualifying for mortgages and purchasing a home, is deterring them.

According to the survey, 52 percent of respondents said their student debt is preventing them from buying a home, down from 53 percent in 2016 and 57 percent in 2015. Additionally, 29 percent reported they know someone who delayed the purchase of a home because of student loan debt. This is a decrease of 1 percent from 2016, but an increase of 2 percent from 2015. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that 80 percent of adults with student loans, and 88 percent of millennials in that category, reported they worry about their debt some, most or all of the time.

In addition to debt, affordability is a factor as well. Of those surveyed, less than half believe that their area is affordable for first-time homebuyers, and 63 percent said rent prices are too expensive for the average person to save to buy a home in their communities. Two-thirds said that rent prices are too high in the area, period.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents (74 percent) agree that the homebuying process is “complicated,” an increase of 7 percent from 2016, and 5 percent from 2015.

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