As the country's total college debt passed the $1 trillion mark and overtook the total credit-card debt for the first time, the repercussions are being felt in the housing market, as first-time homebuyers are limited in their options when it comes to taking out mortgages.
Recent college graduates carry an average debt load of more than $25,000, limiting their ability to qualify for mortgages even if they're able to land a job in a market with an unemployment rate of 9 percent for 25- to 34-year-olds, writes Bob Willis at Bloomberg.
As recent Federal Reserve data shows, over the last ten years the number of 29- to 34-year-olds getting a first-time mortgage had decreased by 8 percent.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said:
"First-time home buyers are typically an important source of incremental housing demand, so their smaller presence in the market affects house prices and construction quite broadly."
John Rao, vice president of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, said:
"Just as the housing bubble created a mortgage debt overhang that absorbs the income of consumers and renders them unable to engage in consumer spending that sustains the economy, so too are student loans beginning to have the same effect, which will be a drag on the economy for the foreseeable future."
Rick Palacios, a senior research analyst at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, said:
"Students coming out of college are burdened with more debt than traditionally they have been, and they are also coming into an economy that is underperforming previous recoveries."
"Move-up buyers need somebody to purchase their homes to move. You need that first leg in the recovery to materialize."
While people aged 25 to 34 still account for 52 percent of the overall number of first-time home buyers, young adults who are starting to move out of their parents' houses want to rent, not buy.
And that's if they can get out of the parental home. Almost 6 million Americans in that group lived with their parents in 2011, up from 4.7 million when the recession began in 2007, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.