Military vs. civilian home-buying trends

Heres proof that young military homebuyers are putting down family stakes: Their share of the under-35 demographic is outpacing civilians, and significantly so.

In its first-of-a-kind survey, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) pointed out that young active-service buyers (ages 18-35) bought homes at a far greater rate (51%) than non-military buyers (34%), reported.

There also was a contrast regarding foreclosure rates: Current data shows that VA loans perform remarkably well and are a safe and affordable choice. Their current seriously delinquent and homes in foreclosure rate is 2.78% versus 3.44% for non-VA loans, according to NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

What other countries can teach the U.S. about student loans

WASHINGTON — Americans owe more than $1trillion in student debt. Its a number fraught with anxiety, and it is driving concern over how the United States structures federal student loans.

Is there a better way? Critics often point to other countries#39; structures as models for an improved American system. But would those systems work in the US, with its deeply entrenched economic policies and unique brand of political and psychological conventions?

International researchers and policy makers from Australia, England, Germany and Sweden met at a conference here Monday to discuss those questions. The event, hosted by the University of Michigans Education Policy Initiative, explored how other countries structure student loans and how the US system might be improved.

Three of those countries — excluding Sweden — use income-based repayment methods, which tie student loan payments to a percentage of the borrowers income. While the US government has its own income-based repayment options, they are heavy on paperwork — and they are much less ubiquitous.

Some of the panelists argued that the US higher education market is simply too different to implement a system like that of Australia or England. But where, others countered, does that leave the millions of Americans who cant afford their payments?

The most important word here is lsquo;insurance. Contingent loans offer insurance to people, said Bruce Chapman, director of policy impact at Australian National Universitys Crawford School of Public Policy and a designer of Australias student loan program. If your circumstances change, your loan obligations change with it.

In the US, graduates default on their loans when their incomes arent high enough and they can#39;t make sufficient payments, Chapman said. And even when low-income graduates dont default, their payments can eat up huge portions of their monthly incomes.

In Australia, which debuted an income-based repayment system in 1989, students dont face those problems. Students who use the system dont pay anything up front and instead begin to pay back their tuition once they reach a certain income threshold. Repayments are based on income and are collected through the tax system. This way, students are protected if something goes wrong: a lost job, a family emergency or simply a lifetime income thats lower than expected.

If youve got a sick child and you want to take that time off, [there#39;s] no loan obligation, Chapman said. You pay a lot when youve got a lot. You dont pay anything when you dont have anything.

Englands system is similar: if graduates dont earn much, they dont pay much; if they earn a lot, they pay a lot. Under a certain threshold, low earners dont pay anything. Loan repayments are deducted directly from graduates salaries — and after 30 years, all loans are forgiven.

Lorraine Dearden, professor of economics and social statistics at University College London, gave an example of a UK-style loan in the US: say a low-earning BA graduate borrows $25,000. In the US, she would pay just over $250 per month for 10 years.

In Britain, she wouldnt start paying until she turns 27 — once her income meets a certain threshold. Her monthly payment peaks at just over $200, but shell be paying for 25 years. Thats a long time — but the payments never go above 3percent of her income.

Income-contingent loans work, and theyre really good at the bottom of the income distribution, Dearden said. How that transpires in the US system is really high default rates for dropouts and those earning low amounts of money.

But in income-based systems, most of the risk falls to the government — not to colleges and universities. That could also pose a problem if the US adopted a similar system: when colleges dont take on any of the risk, they are free to raise tuition indiscriminately. Thats why any widespread US income-based system would need to continue to cap borrowing at a certain level, said Susan Dynarski, a professor of public policy, education and economics at the University of Michigan.

An instrument we dont have available to us is caps on tuition, she said. We dont seem to have the political will for that. So barring that, we need to have caps on borrowing. In England and Australia, loans are used for tuition. But even countries that have done away with tuition have their own versions of student loans. Public universities in Germany and Sweden do not charge tuition, but students take out loans to cover the cost of living.

But theres a key cultural difference between Germany and Sweden that translates into both countries loan policies: parents role in their adult childrens education.

In Sweden, students are considered independent once theyre 18. In Germany, parental support plays a much larger role: even after German young people come of age, their parents are legally required to support them through school.

Not all German families can afford to support their children, of course. Students from poorer families can get financial aid, which is evenly split between grant money and zero-interest loans. The amount of support depends on parental income, and after 38,000 euros in annual net income, no support is awarded. Loans are repaid based on income, and they are forgiven after 20 years.

At the moment, 82percent of German students are debt-free. Of those who graduate with debt, 50percent have debt below euro;4,000.

But even if some Americans would be better off under an income-based system, would they want to use it? The US has a unique set of assumptions and cultural norms concerning education — and those can certainly translate into policy. Some of the panelists worried that income-based systems would face initial skepticism.

My sense is that Americans would be like, lsquo;Wait a minute, I dont want to pay for 25 years. Thats terrible. I want to be done in five, said Jason Delisle, director of New Americas Federal Education Budget Project. We did some focus groups around income-based repayment. Twenty years sounded awful to them.

And then theres the reality of a changing cost structure: many older Americans paid for their education by spending their summers waiting tables, and now their children feel cheated, said Rohit Chopra, a special adviser at the Department of Education.

The idea of paying for 20 to 30 years, he said, is not what they feel like their parents and their grandparents and their country promised them.

But other panelists argued that Americans simply misunderstand these systems, dwelling on the time period without taking the low repayment rates into account.

And then theres the matter of ease: often, income-based payments operate like Social Security payments. Borrowers see a deduction on their earnings, and they dont need to fill out complex paperwork.

Dynarski thinks that the US should integrate student loan repayments into existing systems — like taxes or Social Security.

It would save administrative costs, and besides, perhaps it makes sense to treat loan repayments like Social Security: imagine, Dynarski said, if you kept getting bills for Social Security after you lost your job.

With student loans, she said, the bills keep coming.

SME business loans queries surge in Q1

A remarkable increase in the number of people searching for business loans in the first quarter indicates the vibrant growth of the small and medium businesses in the UAE, a finance comparison site said. According to, a leading finance comparison site, recent figures show a 115 per cent increase in the number of consumers searching for business loans on the site between January and March of this year compared with the same period last year.

Currently in the UAE, SMEs contribute an estimated 40-46 per cent of nominal GDP in Dubai, and more than 60 per cent of the UAEs GDP. They host the majority of employment opportunities in the country and provide 86 per cent of all private sector employment.

The latest figures from indicate that SME growth in the country is continuing and that more and more businesses are looking to the banks to secure financing at sustainable rates.

Its certainly good news for the UAE economy, but it wasnt that much of a surprise to us. The UAE has always been a fantastic place for entrepreneurs to launch start-ups and, with the development of more free zone areas and business hubs, offering more stability, more support and less risk for SMEs, this continues to be the case, said chief executive officer Jon Richards.

The UAE government recently initiated a bankruptcy policy to protect SMEs, buffering them with a 90-day grace period before legal action can be taken against them, offering even more stability for start-ups. Mubarak Rashed Al Mansouri, Governor of the UAE Central Bank, stressed the need to offer institutional support to SMEs to better deal with market forces and offer them credible credit guarantee scheme in order to decrease risks of default.

We are pressing ahead with the bankruptcy law for the stability of the SME sector, I hope this will bring about more confidence in the sector. The UAE currently has approximately 300,000 SMEs with the sector accounting for about five per cent of total lending from banks and six per cent of bank deposits.

There is an excellent range of banking products available, with banks adding additional constantly look at and adding to their portfolio of products aimed at SMEs. However, there is still huge opportunity for banks when it comes to SME offerings, said Richards.

At the same time, entrepreneurs need to remember that banks arent venture capitalists; as a start-up, you cant expect banks to fully fund your business idea. However, not only is the venture capital market on the rise in the UAE, but also peer-to-peer lending and crowd-sourcing opportunities are more easily accessible now than they were in the past. So SMEs and start-ups have a wide range of funding options, he said.

In addition to a marked increase in the amount of consumers searching for business loans, the leading finance comparison site also recorded massive growth both the number of car loans and the number of current accounts obtained through the site. Both have tripled in the same period.


Student loans should not be repaid until the public service is given a living wage

Dear Editor.

Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham had the vision of free education from nursery to university, for he recognised that economic growth lies in an educated population.   In 1992 the PPP/C government thought otherwise and introduced tuition for tertiary education.

It is with horror and shame that I saw this audited delinquent student loan list published by the Kaieteur News which reads like the Forbes 500 List.  The brightest and the best were targeted in this name and shame list, less than 2% – 488 out of 25,335 – of the students, who would have gotten where they are through humongous personal sacrifice and perseverance, yet remained in Guyana to serve their country.  Can you put a price tag on that?   Government after government pays lip service to the brain drain problem, but does anyone really care? When the opportunity presented itself for positive action the delinquent list (of 488 persons) humiliated and embarrassed them.

But this audit omitted to publish the names of the thousands who graduated and cannot find employment or are underemployed or have been forced to migrate.  Starry-eyed students are fed the mantra that education is the key to success.   But while adding up this debt did the audit reveal the good news of the thousands of students who have nothing to show for the loan except a piece of paper that is worthless?

Many employers criticize the quality of the education they paid so dearly for; that a great number of graduates are functionally illiterate who cannot write a letter or do maths further than primary school level.

Keep in mind that student loans are profitable business for the government; this is a captive student population which must pay 5% interest on loans and daily accrued interest whilst the interest rate on deposit accounts at the commercial banks earn a mere 2 and 3 per cent.

The government knows that the students are on the hook for amounts borrowed plus interest. Did the forensic audit publish the statistics? Did it reveal that of the students who remained in Guyana how many are earning a living wage?  How many receive $100,000 per month (US$500)?   Public servants, degreed teachers, social workers and other indebted workers have suffered through a 5% salary increase year after year for decades. The previous government knew exactly what they were doing in allowing this high rate of delinquency.  Mr Sue Ho confirmed that he was not advised that the loan fund was a revolving one. So why now, and backdated too?

Now along comes this new government.  Did the loan agency or the Ministry of Finance contact the debtors by phone, mail or email about their loans that had been taken out since 1994 or ten and fifteen years ago before dropping this delinquent list like a ton of bricks on their heads?  No.

Scholarship students who go abroad to study must sign a contract to serve the Government of Guyana in the public service for five years.  Did the erstwhile forensic audit recommend an initiative that full-time workers in the public service with notoriously low wages should be treated equally and be granted a public service loan forgiveness programme after five years of service?  Or that interest should be waived to allow delinquent students an opportunity to try and honour their contract?

Furthermore student loans should not be repaid until (a) the public service is given a living wage; (b) all the degree certificates are given international certification; and (c) the quality of professors/lecturers is drastically improved.   No more must first degree lecturers be permitted in the University of Guyana.  Students should find their voices and speak out, or else get a recognised and worthwhile education from one of the private universities that are springing up all over the country.

Yours faithfully,

Hema Persaud

Federal Reserve Throws Weight Behind Low Mortgage Rates, Wants More Inflation

Federal Reserve Throws Weight Behind Low Mortgage Rates, Wants More Inflation

Mortgage Rates Falling After FOMC Meeting

The Federal Reserve did not raise the Fed Funds Rate at its June 2016 meeting.

After adjourning from a 2-day meeting, the nations central banker voted to hold the Fed Funds Rate in a target range near 1/4 percent.

The vote was unanimous at 10-0.

In its post-meeting press statement, the Federal Reserve said that the U.S economy appears to have picked up since the group last met in April despite new drag from the labor market.

The group also noted that inflation rates have continued to run below the Feds target range of two percent over the long-term.

At the start of the year, the FOMC was expected to raise the Fed Funds Rate four times in 2016. Now, its doubtful that the group will vote to raise the benchmark rate even once.

The Feds change of plans has surprised Wall Street this year, and mortgage markets have responded favorably.

Mortgage rates are lower since the FOMC adjourned.

Click to see todays rates (Jun 28th, 2016)
Fed Funds Rate: On-Hold At 0.25%

Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted to hold the Fed Funds Rate in its target range near 0.25 percent.

The Fed is data-dependent, it reminded markets. The groups future moves will depend on the strength of labor markets, and on the pace of inflation within the economy.

The Feds job is to balance those two forces.

Currently, labor markets are sagging. After adding than 13 million jobs since 2010, job growth was its lowest in three years last months; and, may not improve through the rest of 2016.

Job growth has not ignited inflationary forces, either. This poses a policy challenge for the Fed.

Inflation is the devaluation of a currency and the Fed aims for a two percent inflation rate per year. Currently, inflation is running closer to 1.5% and thats near where its been for the better part of this decade.

When inflation stays too low for too long, it can lead to deflation, which can be more damaging to an economy than inflation.

The Fed used its statement to identify deflationary threats within the economy — namely, falling energy and commodity costs. The group believes those forces will subside, but maybe not soon enough.

The Fed statement included the following (emphasis added):

In light of the current shortfall of inflation from 2 percent, the Committee will carefully monitor actual and expected progress toward its inflation goal. The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run. However, the actual path of the federal funds rate will depend on the economic outlook as informed by incoming data.

In plain English, this says that the Fed wants to raise the Fed Funds Rate in the future, but because inflation rates are running too low for comfort, the group may have to keep its benchmark rate low as well.

Not until inflation rates return toward two percent per year will the Fed feel totally comfortable raising the Fed Funds Rate away from its current range.

Note that monetary policy can take a long while to work its way through the economy — sometimes three quarters or more. The December 2015 change to the Fed Funds Rate, then, wont be fully felt by businesses and consumers until sometime in late-2016.

The Fed is planning ahead.

Click to see todays rates (Jun 28th, 2016)
Mortgage Rates Edging Lower

A little bit over a year ago, after the groups October 2014 meeting, Federal Reserve announced the end of its third round of quantitative easing, a program known as QE3.

QE3 had been running for over two years.

Via QE3, the Federal Reserve purchased $85 billion in long-term bonds monthly, which included a hefty amount of mortgage-backed securities (MBS).

In buying mortgage-backed securities, the Fed boosted aggregate demand which, in turn, caused MBS prices to rise; and, when MBS prices rise, current mortgage rates fall.

The start of QE3 heralded an era of unprecedented low rates and sparked a refinance boom nationwide. HARP 2 loans surged as homeowners flocked to the various streamline refinance programs.

Home purchase activity increased, too.

Today, in many markets, and in large part because of QE3, home values have recovered all of the value lost during last decades downturn and they continue to make strong gains.

Since QE3 ended in 2014, though, current mortgage rates have been slow to rise. This is because the Federal Reserve continues to reinvest in mortgage-backed bonds.

In its June 2016 statement, the Fed said it will continue to support low mortgage rates via re-investment.

The Committee is … reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of … mortgage-backed securities … and it anticipates doing so until normalization of the level of the federal funds rate is well under way. This policy … should help maintain accommodative financial conditions.

The Fed will keep buying MBS, in other words, helping to keep mortgage rates suppressed for all government-backed loan types.

This includes conventional loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; FHA loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration; and VA loans and USDA loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and US Department of Agriculture, respectively.

Mortgage rates are lower after the June 2016 FOMC Meeting.

What Are Todays Mortgage Rates?

Mortgage rates remain cheap and the Federal Reserve appears intent on helping them stay that way. Markets often change without notice, however. Lock a loan while rates are still low.

Get todays live mortgage rates now. Your social security number is not required to get started, and all quotes come with access to your live mortgage credit scores.

Click to see todays rates (Jun 28th, 2016)

PE-backed Guild Mortgage to acquire AmeriPro Home Loans

Guild Mortgage Co, which is backed by McCarthy Capital, has agreed to buy Austin, Texas-based mortgage lender AmeriPro Home Loans. The seller is Tenura Holdings Inc. No financial terms were disclosed.


SAN DIEGO(BUSINESS WIRE)Guild Mortgage Co. has reached an agreement to acquire AmeriPro Home Loans based in Austin, Texas, with 29 branches and $750 million in loan volume in 2015. The transaction is expected to close July 1 and will make Guild one of the largest independent mortgage banking companies in Texas.

The acquisition will also add new Guild branches in Oklahoma, Florida, Colorado, California and Utah. AmeriPro was founded in 2003 and has become recognized as a leading residential lender in the Southwest. Since 2008, it has been a subsidiary of Tenura Holdings, Inc., an Austin-based investor in realty, title and insurance companies.

The acquisition is the newest step in Guild’s long range plan to grow through acquisition, adding branches in new and existing markets, and preserving its customer service culture with experienced, talented loan officers with established relationships. From 2010 to 2015, Guild grew from its western base into the Southeast and Southwest, increasing its number of branches and satellites from 75 to more than 230. Loan volume in the same period jumped from $4.1 billion to $13.8 billion. Servicing volume more than tripled, from $6.4 billion to $22.3 billion.

Chad Overhauser, president of AmeriPro Home Loans, said that his company has grown because of its strong corporate culture that focuses on delivering an exceptional experience to every customer and employee.

Overhauser started his mortgage banking career in 2002 and formed AmeriPro in 2003. Since then, the company has grown from one branch and three employees to 29 branches with more than 250 employees. He will become a regional vice president at Guild, leading the AmeriPro branches.

“We’ve admired Guild’s growth from afar over the past couple of years,” Overhauser said. “Both companies have an entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to providing the highest levels of customer service. Guild adds more than 50 years of experience in the industry, plus new resources and products to benefit every homebuyer we serve.”

“AmeriPro and Guild together will be stronger in every way than each company is today,” said Mary Ann McGarry, Guild’s president and CEO. “AmeriPro is recognized throughout the region for the quality of its customer service and empowering the individual. Guild brings technology in support of sales, custom-built systems, tools, products, a servicing portfolio, a strong balance sheet, an entrepreneurial and team-oriented approach and management strength with a group of owner managers committed to continuing success.”

“Guild shares AmeriPro’s focus on its people, its business practices, values, and competitive energy,” McGarry said. “AmeriPro provides Guild with market leadership in the state of Texas. This is an important step in our growth plan.”

Guild offers a wide range of residential mortgage products, with in-house underwriting and funding, which provide consistency and speed throughout the loan process. Its loan professionals can serve the needs of any homebuyer, from helping first-time homebuyers achieve their dreams of home ownership, often through government loan programs, to providing jumbo home loans through its relationship with Mutual of Omaha Bank. Guild also specializes in helping active duty and retired military personnel to secure VA loans, which provide 100 percent financing and flexible qualifying standards.

About Guild Mortgage
Guild Mortgage Co. was founded in 1960 as a home financing company for American Housing Guild in San Diego, California. Guild broadened its range of services in 1972 by including resale mortgage financing. After decades of successful innovation and growth, Guild Mortgage Co. is now a nationally recognized mortgage banking company with 234 branch and satellite offices in 25 states. It generated loan volume of $13.8 billion in 2015, up 86.1 percent from $7.4 billion in 2014. Its servicing volume reached $22.3 billion in 2015, up 34 percent from $16.6 billion in 2014. In addition, Guild has correspondent banking relationships with credit unions and community banks in 47 states. (Equal Housing Lender- Company NMLS #3274).

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Can Help You With Student Loans

You’re not alone if you’re confused about your student loans or feel stymied by your student loan servicer. More and more resources out there can help, but you can’t use them if you don’t know they exist.

We talked to Seth Frotman, who works at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as student loan ombudsman and assistant director of its Office for Students and Young Consumers. The CFPB was created to help consumers after the financial crisis of 2008; Frotman’s office collects consumer complaints about student loans, publishes reports about the industry, and drafts policy recommendations to improve student loan servicing.

Here’s how Frotman says you can use the CFPB and other tools to get your loans in shape. This Qamp;A has been edited for length and clarity.

Youre the CFPBs student loan ombudsman. Lots of readers are probably wondering: What does an ombudsman do?

We protect consumers from harmful practices and take actions against companies that break the law. We were created in the wake of the financial meltdown — the mortgage crisis of 2008 to 2009 — and the president and Congress recognized the need to address widespread failures in consumer protection and the rapid growth in irresponsible lending practices. Congress then created a special position at the CFPB to work on behalf of the over 40 million student loan borrowers. That’s the office that I lead.

We take complaints directly from consumers, so we hear every day about the challenges they are facing with their student loans. We hear from too many student loan borrowers who, for one reason or another, can’t get the information they need from their student loan company or feel like they’re getting the runaround.

So in one regard, it’s a way for individual borrowers to get answers and hopefully get their issues resolved. But what we hear from consumers also directly impacts the larger work we do at the bureau, whether that’s helping us prioritize what enforcement actions we should take — but also the issues we highlight to help clean up the marketplace.

What’s your office working on right now?

A top priority of our office is cleaning up the student loan servicing marketplace. We have estimated that 1 in 4 student loan borrowers is either behind or in default. And unfortunately, we see too many borrowers needlessly defaulting when there are affordable repayment plans that they have the right to under federal law.

One example of our work is around our Payback Playbook. [In April], we announced this initiative in conjunction with the Department of Education and the Department of Treasury.

The prototypes of this playbook are available online, and we’re asking for feedback from the industry, from consumers, from your readers to tell us what they think of them, how we can improve them. But essentially what they are are personalized disclosures [or descriptions of your choices] which will have information about the borrower’s repayment options so they can secure a monthly payment they can afford.

We hope that in the not-too-distant future that these [playbooks] will be available to borrowers on their monthly bills, regular email communications from their student loan servicers and when they log on to their student account. We’re hoping to get as much feedback as we possibly can by the June 12 deadline.

In your October 2015 annual report, you noted that many student loan borrowers complained about “servicing and debt collection practices that create barriers to enroll in alternative repayment plans, including income-driven repayment plans for borrowers with federal loans.” Can you talk more about that?

We have real concerns over the student loan servicing market. For those who don’t know, the student loan servicer is the company that you send your payments to and, if you’re struggling, you reach out to to try to figure out what your options are. And while we’ve seen borrowers in other products like mortgage and credit cards somewhat regain their footing after the economic recession, unfortunately that is not the case in the student loan market.

We saw some disturbing statistics recently come out of the top federal auditor, who found that of borrowers in default, 70% actually had the income eligibility to be in one of these income-driven repayment plans, but unfortunately wound up in default despite that protection available to them.

I think what we continuously hear from consumers is lost paperwork, misapplied payments and getting the runaround from their servicers. And unfortunately, what we have seen is an eerie similarity to the mortgage breakdown, when people were struggling to stay in their homes and they reached out to their servicers and were never able to get the information to get themselves set up for success.

What do you wish more people knew about their student loans?

If you are having a problem with your student loans, you can file a complaint with the CFPB. And our complaint system has already helped many borrowers when faced with billing errors, lost paperwork and other servicing issues.

I think the second issue is the real growth in student debt relief scams. So unfortunately, just as we saw in the mortgage context, when borrowers are struggling, too many unscrupulous businesses often find a way to prey on those vulnerable borrowers. The bureau and now a host of state law enforcement officials have taken action against these student loan debt relief scams.

Don’t pay for help with your student loans if you’re struggling or looking for an alternative repayment plan. Reach out to your student loan servicer or go to our website at and check out the resources we have to help you get enrolled in a repayment plan you can afford, for absolutely no cost.

What advice do you have for families who are trying to figure out how to pay for college? How about for college seniors who just graduated?

For many people, the choice about where they go to school and the debt load they take on will be one of, if not the, largest financial decision they will make. Really understanding that decision and the corresponding amount of debt that will continue with you for 10, 15, 20 years — we just can’t emphasize enough the importance of making a sound decision around this choice.

For those who are just graduating, I think it’s really important to understand your repayment options. But due to breakdowns in the marketplace, unfortunately, we still see too many people needlessly ending up in default. I think that’s something that we are going to continue to work on.

Next steps

There is support available to you if you’re unable to make student loan payments or if you’re having trouble communicating with your servicer. Check out these student loan resources from the CFPB, the US Department of Education and NerdWallet:

Submit a complaint to the CFPB

Pick a student loan repayment option in 5 steps or less

How to get out of student loan default

4 ways to get federal student loan forgiveness

Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @briannamcscribe.

Want to own a home? Say no to student loans

Many Americans have traded a white picket fence for an education.

A study released Monday by the National Association of Realtors found 71 percent of non-homeowners with students loans said they believe their education debt has delayed home ownership.

About half of the 3,230 respondents said making monthly payments on student loans will delay ownership by more than five years.

The report comes out as student loan debt has become a topic in the presidential campaign and new research indicates, for some, they are worse off financially than if they never went to school.

“Even though they are making all the right decisions, just the burden of carrying this large student debt is postponing some of the realization of what people consider the American Dream,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the association, by phone Monday. He had addressed congressional staff members about the issue in Washington, DC earlier Monday.

The association’s study, in partnership with nonprofit American Student Assistance, found four in 10 borrowers said student loan debt kept them from moving out of a family member’s home.

Although debt blocking home ownership is nothing new, Yun said what is happening now is differentfrom previous generations because student loan debt has tripled in the past decade. He said the average amount of debt students are carrying is rising, ahead of inflation — and could have a dire effect on the economy. The most common debt amount of those surveyed was $20,000 to $30,000.

A recent study from economists at the US Treasury Department and George Washington University found many students were worse off than if they never went to school, said the Wall Street Journal. The economists tracked the income of 1.4 million students who went to a for-profit college in the two years through September 2008, and those who enrolled in associate’s and bachelor’s programs earned an average $600 to $700 a year less than the six years before they entered.

The worst off among the students studied were those who took out loans but did not graduate.

Eighty-three percent of younger millennials, those born from 1990 to 1998, in the Realtor study said they could not save for a down payment because of student debt.

In a March study from Zillow of 10,000 renters and homeowners, millennials put the most emphasis, 65 percent, of any generation on home ownership as a way to achieve wealth — even more than the oldest Americans.

Yun said student loan debt should not be considered a solution to the lack of housing inventory, even in San Diego County where slowed homebuilding is already having an effect on supply.

“We should not deny the opportunity for home ownership to the millennial generation,” he said.

The study did not limit answers by geographical location, but Yun said student loan holders in the West, in general, have it harder because of higher home costs.

People with student loans are still buying homes, but the association found 41 percent of first-time home buyers still have some education debt.

In a prepared statement, association vice president Sherri Meadows said it is important for Realtors and the real estate industry to continue to bring up the topic.

Realtors work closely with our clients and consumers every day,” she said, “we understand the severity of the problem. This is not an abstract issue for us.”

Student loans in the United States make up an outstanding debt of $1.3 trillion and account for 10 percent of all outstanding debt, the study said. The average San Diegan is $78,282 in overall debt, said

Yun said borrowers with large amounts of debt should not give up hope of owning a home, in part, because he and others are advocating changes that would allow loan holders to refinance to lower interest rates. (619) 293-1891 Twitter: @phillipmolnar

Harry Potter And The Curse Of The Student Loans

I had some vague idea that Hogwarts was expensive. But no one told me that when I graduated I would owe an amount equivalent to roughly 300,000 butterbeers. When I first embarked upon my wizarding degree, I had zero savings of my own and no one to co-sign my loans, so I took out a private loan on the recommendation of a “friend” who later turned out to be a Death Eater (long story). Anyway, after 10 years of fighting for my life, rescuing classmates and mentors alike, blah blah blah, my interest rate was the last thing on my mind. Frankly, by my final year I assumed I could just Expelliarmus any extra debt that had accumulated.

Little did I know someone had put a Cascading Jinx on those loans. So I decided to defer them for a couple of years while I figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life–turns out that the only professorships they give out these days are adjunct, even at Hogwarts. I slipped on a few payments, and now I owe 60,000 Galleons more than when I started. I’m getting Howlers every second from the Ministry of Credit. I can’t walk out my door without being accosted by a fucking owl!

Looking back, I wish someone had told me how all this worked. I was only 10 years old! I didn’t know what the hell “APR” stood for. And nobody told me how little people actually make from a degree in wizarding. Now that I’m out in the “real world,” so to speak, I’m finding it hard to snag even the most entry-level salary. Believe it or not, skills like “vanquishing” and “snitch-grabbing” don’t exactly translate. I finally got a position as a sandwich artist at a new shop called Blood ‘n’ Beans. (Rumor is, I only got the gig because I could Accio roasted tomatoes faster than everyone else.) I can barely pay off the interest on my loan, let alone touch the principle.

Even if I do find a job in magic, my degree is practically obsolete already because the technology moves so fast. I don’t know how do any of the latest defensive charms, and now that the damn Marauder’s Map went digital, everyone knows where I am all of the time.

The invaluable value of estate planning

In my 24 years of working closely with people’s personal finances, time and time again I hear families’ stories and observe the benefits of planning ahead for the ease of your survivors after you die.

That is called estate planning. Although it is not pleasant to contemplate our demise, setting some intentions in writing and investing in some pre-planning really helps those who survive you during a time when they are most vulnerable, when even the most business-minded person can find themselves experiencing shock, stress and a temporary diminished capacity for clarity and decision making.

Education about estate planning is often directed toward the estate tax impact as well as instructions for the distribution of your assets. It is usually contemplated by married couples who have children. And it is most often engaged in by people who have recently experienced a death in the family and have firsthand experience of either how difficult it can be without preplanning or what a gift it is by the decedent to have thought ahead and taken the necessary actions to make it easier after their death.

Estate planning is multifaceted — you may want to speak with specialists about burial arrangements, insurance, tax impact, legal distribution of assets, protection of heirs, sustenance of your spouse, recognition of your life achievements, making lasting legacies that can make the world a better place. If you want a financial coach, seek out a financial planner who is trained in in viewing your life and death from these multiple perspectives and works with you and with your team of specialists to plan ahead, to educate you, and ultimately to serve your family and your interests through times of transition.

While facilitating survivors through the processing of what needs to be done after a family member dies — I hear tales and have observed firsthand the confusion of how the instructions of the attorney may not match the instructions of the bank or the investment companies and the instructions of the insurance company didn’t match what broker or the accountant said, etc.

Yes, we all get through it eventually, but often with surprises of expenses and time, and looking back may wish there were an easier way. Well, there is an easier way, called planning, comprehensive planning with an experienced guide, and probably with several specialists. What are these people selling? What are their background, education and experience? There is more to it than just an insurance policy, more than just a will, taxes are one aspect, care for minors, titling of assets, what does your spouse need to know ahead of time. These are things you’d do well to learn about now.

Do you have a special collection?

Is your child’s spouse a member of the family that you want to see cared for as much as you want to see your child cared for after you die?

Are you aware that your living trust likely disinherits your son or daughter in-law if your child predeceases you and is that the way you want it?

Do you know what happens to your children if they are under the age of 18 when you die?

If you have no children do you want to donate all of your assets to the state or would you prefer to designate certain good causes, scholarships or charities?

We assume we will die when we are old but that is not always the case. Whether you have more assets or more debts, take action; learn about your choices and how it works. What does it cost for burial or cremation and who do you expect pays for it?

If you have made an estate plan, congratulations! And take a second look at it now — have people or circumstances changed? Was it written before the estate tax law changes of 2010?

Are you missing something? A professional planner can efficiently educate and help you through

the checklist to achieve the satisfaction of knowing the good you’ve done.

Cheryl Seifert is a certified financial planner at Capital Financial Consultants Group. She can be reached at 123 S. Third Ave., Suite 7, Sandpoint; phone, 208-255-2766; or online,