Goldman Sachs Finds No. 1 Factor Fueling Millennial Loan Rejection

by James F. McClister

Lending standards have loosened since a year ago, but student debt is still keeping Millennials out of homeownership.

So much is said about why Millennials have been largely staying away from the housing market, but a recent analysis from Goldman Sachs, reported by The Washington Post, says that regardless of speculation, one thing is certain: Too much student debt is going to crush your chances of buying a home.

Authored by economists Eli Hackel and Hui Shan, the report attempts to quantify the relationship between the current housing market and Millennials age 25 to 34, the age when young people are most likely to be looking for a home. Through extensive analysis, taking into consideration several variant factors, such as ethnicity, the two determined with some certainty that after surpassing the student debt threshold of $50,000, the homeownership rate for Millennials with a college degree drops by nearly 10 percent.

Degree vs. No Degree

The relationship between age and homeownership, as Hackel and Shan discovered, is not nearly as correlative as education and homeownership. Comparing young adults with and without college degrees, regardless of student debt, those who had graduated college boasted a homeownership rate 16 percent higher than their degree-less counterparts.

Millennials whose student debt requires more than five percent of their monthly income are likely to face hurdles to homeownership.

Graduates who devote more than 10 percent of their overall income to loan payments were found to have a homeownership rate 22 percent lower than those paying less.

Lenders Hesitant, Millennials Hopeful

With the financial crisis still fresh in the corporate psyche, lenders are already approaching new loan applications with a tentative posture. One indicator mortgage originators are paying particular attention to, especially with Millennials, is their debt to income ratio, which, as the report points out, is rising dramatically.

In a recent survey conducted by influential credit scorer FICO, research found that nearly two-thirds of bankers agree that, above all else, high debt to income ratios was the factor that made them most hesitant to approve home loans.

And as if the pyre wasn’t piled high enough already, in January, new federal mortgage rules took effect that provide lenders with a much broader array of legal protections that, while sounding nice, only apply if the issuing bank refrains from approving buyers whose monthly debt payments exceed 43 percent of their monthly gross income.

But it’s not all bad news for Millennials, Hackel and Shan point out. “Small to moderate amounts of student loans do not appear to reduce the homeownership rate noticeably.”

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