The housing recovery can’t kick into high gear until the student debt crisis is fixed, Mortgage Bankers Associations CEO David Stevens said on CNBC. But he does offer a solution to the problem: job creation.

"Home prices ... are only halfway back to pre-recession levels," Stevens said. "The opportunity to get the market kick-started has to come with increased confidence."

Until employment prospects improve, many people are renting instead of buying. But that's led to a shortage of affordable rental housing, Stevens said, "particularly in urban markets where the jobs are."