One of the most recognized rites of passage for adults in the Western world is financial independence. For some, that may come in the glorious form of the first paycheck or opening a bank account and setting up a direct deposit. For millions of Americans however, their first taste of financial independence will appear in the nightmares of their first student loan payment. According to recent reports, student loan debt in the United States is rapidly approaching $1 trillion, or greater than all other types of household debts. In regards to the Manhattan real estate market, more college and university graduates are now either moving back home or putting down a security deposit instead of a down payment.
Traditionally, the 25- to 34-years-old demographic in New York City makes up a significant portion of the first-time buyers population. Currently, the homeownership rate for 25- to 29-year-olds is at 36.8%, the lowest since 1999. Subsequently, the homeownership rate for 30- to 34- year-olds is the lowest it has been in 17 years. Over 6 million Americans in that demographic have moved back home during the recession, a 26% increase from 2007. While Manhattan may be low on luxury condos, the market currently still hosts a humble volume of affordable one-bedroom units such as those at 88 Morningside Avenue and 68 Bradhurst Avenue.
Even with the recent proposal by the Obama administration to reduce monthly student loan payments down to 10% of income, many recent graduates are still unable to keep up with their monthly payments, never mind investing in New York City real estate. The average college graduate now enters the work force with over $25,000 in debt and student loan default rate are at 8.9%. Many graduates are now discovering that the path towards financial liberty is paved with mounting student loans, poor job prospects and stagnant wages. Even one late or missed payment could put a damper on one’s credit history and create problems down the road when one decides to purchase a condo or co-op and secures a mortgage. The bottom line comes down to the reality that the 10-plus years when graduates are now struggling to pay off their student loans will be the same ones that the housing market will be kissing those first-time buyers goodbye.