Zillow study shows that renters with high debt qualify for far fewer homes than those without. (iStock)

Americans have amassed more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, according to the Federal Reserve, which has an outsize impact on potential home buyers. A recent analysis by Zillow found that about one-third of renters who plan to buy a home in the next year carry at least some student loan debt, with an average payment of $388 per month.

An analysis that compares national median home values, median household income and student loan debt found that a family earning the median household income can afford to buy 66 percent of homes listed for sale. But those with student loan debt can only afford 52 percent of those homes.

Nationally, a renter earning the median household income who doesn’t have student loan debt can afford to buy a home that costs up to $361,800, assuming a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year fixed-rate loan with a mortgage rate of 4.8 percent. A renter in those same circumstances with student loan debt could afford to spend up to $269,400, a difference of $92,400. Affordability is based on the assumption that the buyers are spending no more than 30 percent of their income on the combination of housing costs and student loan repayment.

In the Washington area, a renter with average student loan debt could afford a $507,600 home, which means they can afford 62 percent of properties on the market. A renter without student loan debt could afford a $600,000 home or 71 percent of homes on the market, according to Zillow’s analysis.

Student loan debt also hampers renters’ ability to save for a down payment, which further reduces affordability and could delay homeownership. However, numerous loan programs are available with down payment requirements under 20 percent and go as low as 3 percent.

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