More young couples buying a home together before getting married

Buying a home together before getting married is becoming more popular:

Now, the results of a soon-to-be-released survey from Coldwell Banker indicate that today’s young couples are also more likely to buy homes together before marriage. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of polled married couples ages 18 to 34 said that they purchased a home before they were married. Among married couples ages 45 and up, just 14% said that they bought a house together before tying the knot. Couples in the Northeast stand out as particularly likely to buy real estate before getting hitched: Just 60% in the survey waited until marriage to purchase a home, compared to 72% in the tradition-minded South, where people tend to marry younger (and therefore, poorer).

In a phone interview, Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and Coldwell Banker’s official “lifestyle correspondent,” said that buying a home together has become “the new engagement ring” for some young couples. They’re committing to purchasing real estate as a couple regardless of whether they’ve set a wedding date. Some even forego lavish weddings and honeymoons in order to cover the down payment and a chunk of the mortgage. “Millennials have a very pragmatic state of mind,” said Ludwig. “They know that they have an opportunity here, with low mortgage rates and low housing prices. And they think, ‘We’re moving toward marriage anyway, so let’s buy.’ It makes sense.”…

For young people who are in committed relationships and interested in homeownership, Ludwig said that the benefits associated with shopping for a home together go well beyond the prospect of owning property. While considering the very big step of buying a house, couples are forced to deal with exactly the kinds of issues that they should discuss before marriage. “When purchasing a home, there is a need to be transparent on many levels,” said Ludwig. “You must be upfront with your partner, and you also have to get real honest with yourself.” It’s possible to get married without actually knowing how much money your wife earns, or how much credit card debt your husband accrued in college. Salaries, debt, and more are all on the table when the time comes to get a mortgage, however.

Couples also must obviously figure out where they want to live, and envision how long they’re likely to live there. Even topics like how many kids you want to have come up—because that will factor in to the location, size, and style of home you buy. “It’s easy for couples to not think or talk about these things,” said Ludwig, “but they’re forced to once mortgages and banks are involved.”

This seems like an extra-expensive way to learn about each other before marriage. But, it does fit with a narrative that couples should be economically secure before getting married. Plus, couples do need a place to live…

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