The resumption of US student-loan payments in the coming weeks will deal a significant and lasting blow to the housing market, according to a new survey of real estate professionals.

Home-purchase applications fell to the lowest level in a generation last week — and demand may be depressed even further when the pandemic-era freeze on student debt ends in October, according to a poll conducted by Pulsenomics LLC among more than 100 housing experts.

Most respondents said that household formation and homeownership rates will be significantly affected for at least a year, and many predicted a longer-lasting impact.

About 70% of student loan borrowers — amounting to some 30 million people — are 25-49 years of age, a time of life when many Americans typically look to set up a new home, perhaps as they get married or have children. That source of demand is likely to come under pressure as household budgets are strained by student loan repayments after almost four years of forbearance.

Homeownership is one of the few ways that lower-income households accumulate wealth, and it’s typically the largest source of wealth for families, so a reduction could have long-term effects. 

More than three-quarters of the survey respondents said that resumption of federal student-loan payments will have a negative impact on homeownership lasting a year or more, and 40% said it will last for at least three years.

A National Association of Realtors study last year found that over a 30-year period, a homeowner who purchased a typical single-family home would likely have accumulated $354,400 in home equity in the US, with almost three-quarters of that coming from price gains.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.