Financial Strain Make Homeownership Hard For Millennials

Just 36% of Americans under the age of 35 own a home, according to the Census Bureau. That’s down from 42% in 2007 and the lowest level since 1982, when the agency began tracking homeownership by age.

It’s not all their fault. Millennials want to buy homes — 90% prefer owning over renting, according to a recent survey from Fannie Mae.

But student loan debt, tight lending standards and stiff competition have made it next to impossible for many of these younger Americans to make the leap.

“When we surveyed Millennials they cited several barriers to homeownership, especially access to financing,” said Steve Deggendorf, a senior director for Fannie Mae.

Many Millennials simply can’t come up with the hefty 20% down payments. Others don’t have good enough credit to qualify for loans.

Making it even more difficult are the heavy student loan burdens many college grads carry.

“Our problem is an obvious one — debt,” said Mike Kennedy, a 32-year-old marketing director who lives in Northboro, Mass. “My wife just graduated with her master’s and I’m still paying off mine.”

Even without the $50,000 in student loan debt they owe, affording a home in their town is difficult, he said. Single-family homes there cost $300,000 and up.

Russell Cragun, an online marketing manager, and his wife, Chalay, are both 25. They are looking at homes in the Orem, Utah, area, where the median home price is more than $230,000.

Lured by tax incentives, tech companies have been relocating to the area and creating many high-paying jobs. That has heated up demand — and home prices.

But with $15,000 in student loan debt to pay, it’s hard to save enough for a downpayment, said Russell.

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