Determined home buyers with medical debt are more likely than some to be denied a mortgage, while those with student loan debt more often set aside buying. This according to the fourth annual Zillow® Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends recently released.

Personal debt – particularly credit card, student loan and medical – monumentally impacts the type and features of home someone can afford, their timeline for buying a home, ability to afford an adequate down payment and, basically, whether or not they are approved for a mortgage, according to the report, according to the news release.

More than two-thirds of renters have debt, and about a quarter of renters and homebuyers said their debt caused them to be denied either a rental agreement or a mortgage at some point in their history. That impact was most commonly reported by those with medical debt, which has a unique capacity to break budgets. Nearly two-thirds of renters and 44% of homeowners with medical debt said they couldn’t cover an unforeseen $1,000 expense. That’s compared to about half of all renters and one-fifth of all homeowners.

Half of renters and 39% of buyers said student debt led them to delay buying a home. And once they do, it impacts how much they are able to put down, basically affecting their monthly budgets for decades. Two-thirds of buyers with any kind of debt put down less than 20% when they secure a mortgage, compared with 40% of buyers without debt. The share is even higher (76%) for buyers struggling with student debt. Putting down less than 20%, while fairly common, not only increases monthly payments but also can lead to added expenses if a lender requires private mortgage insurance or other upfront fees to compensate for the added risk, the release added.

And for those burdened with debt, financial surrendering are common – 73% of renters and 68% of buyers with debt said they made at least one financial sacrifice to afford their home, compared with half of renters and 39% of buyers without debt. The most commonly cited lifestyle changes were cutting back on entertainment, getting additional work, skimping on vacations and decreasing spending on technology. Those in debt also are more likely to exceed their homebuying budgets.

“When we focus on low unemployment and the strong economy, we often forget that in many ways the rising costs of life can erode most of those gains,” said Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s director of economic research in the release. “Health care has never been more expensive. Getting a college degree, a path more likely to lead to economic success for those able to get through it has never been more expensive. U.S. housing values and rents have never been more expensive. While incomes, both at the high and low end, are growing, the pace hasn’t kept up with those crucial life expenses. That’s fact and Americans are feeling it.”

Type of buyers’ debt

Said debt was the reason for a mortgage or rental deniali

Credit card


Student loan

Credit card


Student loan












None of these


Net: any debt


The 2019 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends survey included U.S. home buyers, sellers, owners and renters, and asked 13,000 U.S. household decision makers aged 18 and older about their homes – how they search for them, pay for them, maintain and improve them, and what aspirations and challenges drive their decision. Data from the full report is available for free to the public at, the release added.

Source: Zillow