WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - October 05, 2015) - The third annual America at Home survey from NeighborWorks America, the leading organization dedicated to providing people with safe, healthy and affordable housing, finds that despite a growing economy, the financial pressures of student debt, persistent confusion about the mortgage process and a continuing nationwide marriage rate decline are important factors combining to slow the housing market.
The survey found that student loan debt continues to grow as an obstacle in a consumer's ability to buy a home, as 57 percent of 2015 respondents who acknowledge having student loans said this debt was either "very much" or "somewhat" of an obstacle, compared to 49 percent of 2014 respondents.
Additionally, although mortgage rates remain historically low, a generally steady rise in home prices is outpacing income growth, leading homebuyers -- especially first-time buyers -- to search for ways to build up a down payment. However, nearly 40 percent of respondents have received "nothing at all" in terms of information about down payment assistance programs for middle-income homebuyers, programs that could provide thousands of dollars to help bridge a savings gap.
Finally, the housing market is being pressured by changing demographics. Of the respondents surveyed, 43 percent planned to purchase a home when they "got married or moved in with a life partner." This is important for the housing market's rebound, because the median age at first marriage has increased to 29.3 for men and 27.0 for women, according to the Census Bureau, up from 26.8 and 25.1 years, respectively in 2000.
"It's clear the housing market is directly affected by many factors, and these forces identified in our survey are putting strong downward pressure on growth," said Paul Weech, president and CEO of NeighborWorks America. "While NeighborWorks can't address the demographic shift, we are increasing our efforts to support nonprofits that offer homebuyer education and financial capability coaching."
Additional findings from the survey suggest other areas where increased homebuyer education could energize the housing market:
"These findings reveal that Americans are not receiving adequate information about the home buying process," said Weech. "With 42 percent of consumers using friends and family as primary sources of information about purchasing a home, it is incumbent upon organizations like NeighborWorks to ensure consumers take advantage of the many housing resources available. It's understandable that Americans looking to purchase their first homes are intimidated by obstacles such as student debt, lack of a down payment and weak credit, so it's critical that first-time homebuyers have access to information and programs such as down payment assistance and affordable loans so they feel confident in purchasing a home independently."
Editor's Note: Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners Company, conducted the national representative survey among 1,000 U.S. adults using a random digit dial (RDD) sample. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
For a copy of the full findings, please contact Douglas Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About NeighborWorks America
NeighborWorks America has created opportunities for people to improve their lives and strengthen their communities by providing access to homeownership and to safe and affordable rental housing. In the last five years, NeighborWorks organizations have generated more than $24.5 billion in reinvestment in these communities. NeighborWorks America is the nation's leading trainer of community development and affordable housing professionals.