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For ATL millennials with crushing student debt, homeownership can be distant dream

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Analysis finds that many young Atlantans with student loan burdens will require 13 years for down payment

A photo of a coveted discount in Buckhead. Bloomberg via Getty Images

Back in November, when the trend-spotters at National Real Estate Investor crowned Atlanta’s suburbs the country’s third best for millennials, we asked the younger city dwellers of ATL how they’d honestly feel about uprooting to suburbia.

The results were somewhat surprising.

Regarding an eventual suburban exodus, nearly 60 percent of 2,200 respondents were either enthusiastic or resigned to the fact that it’s going to—or has to—happen one day.

Another study released this week could point to one reason why: crushing student debt.

As part of an analysis titled “Student Debt and Millennial Homeownership,” Apartment List has compiled numbers both staggering and bleak. Among them:

  • For graduating college seniors, the average student debt burden ballooned by 70 percent between 2005 and 2015;
  • The average cost of undergrad tuition has increased by 160 percent since 1980. Meanwhile, median income has inched up by 25 percent, and median home prices have grown by 60 percent.

What’s this mean for millennials of Atlanta saddled with student debt?

As part of a study that polled 11,000 millennials nationwide, researchers found that it’s increasingly harder for young buyers to compile a required down payment these days, “and their ability to purchase homes has broad implications for the housing market and society as a whole.”

On average, college graduates of Atlanta without student loans (lucky souls!) have $8,590 saved for a down payment. That’s about three times as much as college grads with debt.

And consider this: College grads with debt in Atlanta will need 12.9 years, on average, to sock away enough cash for a 20 percent down payment, per the study.

Despite a national uptick in millennial homeownership (those under age 35), apartment listing service ABODO found last year that only 29.9 percent of metro Atlanta millennials currently own the place they’re living in. That slots Atlanta at No. 23 among large cities (and 93rd overall).

Not to pile on, but here’s a chart that could make millennials cry into their Keystone Light:

What’s the good news for ATL millennials intent on building nest eggs toward homeownership? None, really. But there’s this, per Apartment List:

We find that in Austin, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver—one-fourth of the metros we analyzed—millennials without a college degree would need more than 20 years to save enough for a down payment.

So at least you have a college degree. And on the bright side, this isn’t San Francisco, where it’ll take most college grads with debt nearly 27 years to pony up an appropriate down payment.

“Such lengths of time,” researchers noted, “suggest that many millennials in these metros may never actually achieve homeownership (or may need to move elsewhere to do so).”