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Co-owning Before Tying the Knot

Many couples aren’t waiting to the knot before buying a home. According to recent data, a large chunk of young homebuyers are actually unmarried couples.

According to Zillow, 15 percent of today’s homebuyers between 24 and 35 are unmarried couples—up from 11 percent of buyers in 2015. The greatest increase of home purchases by unmarried couples occurred in Washington, D.C., where 16 percent of young buyers are unmarried. Philadelphia and Miami took the No. 2 and No. 3 spots.

The jump in statistics is likely due to rising home costs, which are increasing at the fastest rate since 2006. Up 7 percent in the last year, the median home value across the country is now $193,800, and some youth-heavy metros, including Denver, Portland, and Seattle, have even seen home values surpass crisis-level numbers. These rising costs make co-purchasing almost a necessity for young buyers.

”Buying a home is a big part of The American Dream–equally shared by millennials and Baby Boomers alike,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell, “but it's becoming extremely difficult to make it work on a single income.”

According to Zillow’s data, almost 75 percent of all buyers are either married or in a relationship.

"Many singles looking to purchase a home on their own may not make enough money to afford or qualify for a mortgage on their dream home,” Gudell said. “That makes buying a home with a significant other even more appealing, even if marriage isn't quite part of the picture. Simply put, buying a home is much easier with two incomes. Assuming home value growth continues to outpace income growth, I imagine this trend will continue."

As the number of unwed-couple buyers increases, the number of single buyers continues to drop. Only roughly 25 percent of all homebuyers between 24 and 35 are single; in 2005, it was 28 percent.

Las Vegas, Portland, and Columbus, Ohio, have seen the biggest drop in single homebuyers. In 2005, nearly 40 percent of homebuyers were single; today, single buyers account for less than 20 percent of purchase.

Despite recent trends, couples still account for the largest share of home purchases. Millennials also make up a significant portion, making up 42 percent of all today’s buyers.

About Author: Aly J. Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer and editor based in Fort Worth, Texas. She has worked for various newspapers, magazines, and publications across the nation, including The Dallas Morning News and Addison Magazine. She has also worked with both the Five Star Institute and REO Red Book, as well as various other mortgage industry clients on content strategy, blogging, marketing, and more.
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