Millennials Slow To Enter Housing Market Under 'Albatross' Of Student Loan Debt

Millennials are entering the housing market later than in past generations. But it’s not a change in values that's driving this trend.

Millennials are struggling to get out from under the "albatross" of student loan debt, according to Hedgeye Housing Sector Head Josh Steiner. These unprecedented debt loads have caused the Millennial generation to delay purchasing a home, Steiner explained on a recent edition of The Macro Show

According to a recent census study, Millennials aspire towards the traditional tenets of adulthood – getting married, having kids, buying a house – just as much as in previous generations.

"People aspire in the same ratios or proportions or percentages as they did 40 years ago," Steiner says. "What has changed is the age at which these things occur.”

The reason for that delay, Steiner reported, is because student loan debt has reduced spending power. There is currently $1.438 trillion in U.S. student loan debt, a weighty “foregone opportunity” for America’s housing market, Steiner says. Average total student loan debt is roughly $25,000-35,000, but that's obscured by the extremes. Young people becoming lawyers or doctors have more total student loan debt. 

"The amount of house or mortgage they can afford to service relative to their income is inherently less than it would have been if not for their student loan burdens, which are growing at a pretty rapid clip,” he said. “They're not able to afford as much home as they would be because they're spending more and more of their disposable income on debt service for student loans.”

“The reality is that if you want to thrive from a career and income standpoint, educational attainment is a prerequisite,” Steiner said. “However, nowadays, it comes with a pretty significant tab that, frankly, wasn’t there as recently as the 1990’s.”

It's not all bad though.

Investors should take note that, nationally, the housing market is currently at the lowest levels of supply in homes for sale on record, even taking into consideration the heady days of 2005-2006. Historically, in this environment, home prices rise 12%.

And don't count the Millennial generation out just yet. There's an "enormous bull market coming" for Housing, Steiner says, beginning around 2020 when the Millennial generation starts to hit peak spending years.