Wedding. House. Kids. It’s progression that most people assume they’ll fall into at some point. But, increasingly, some couples are deciding to shake up the order of things to help their finances—and their relationships.
Pamela Smock, a professor at the Department of Sociology and Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan, notes: “Unmarried…cohabitation has increased sharply in recent years….The majority of marriages…now begin as cohabitating relationships.”
And increasingly, those couples are picking out real estate together. Last year, 8% of homebuyers were unmarried couples, according to the National Association of Realtors. This represents an uptick from 7% in each of the previous four years.
Here are some possible explanations:
Switching The Order Can Space Out The Burden Of Wedding AND Home.
Paying for both a wedding and a big down payment on a house can be a lot for a couple to handle within only a few years. Buying the house first can both space out the process for young couples and also allow them to focus first on the house.
Buying A Home First May Eat Into Money For The Wedding.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although we want you to have the wedding of your dreams, we don’t think it’s savvy to spend your money on one reception if it means settling for a house where you’re not comfortable. (And hey, we’ve heard of some parents who are even willing to chip in on that down payment in lieu of the wedding.)
There's An Emotional Reason, Too: Buying A House Together Puts All Your Finances In The Open.
Financial and relationship advisors agree that money is one of the biggest sources of stress and arguments among married couples. If it turns out that, after the vows have been read and the cake has been cut, either person earns, spends, owes, or has saved much more or less than he or she let on, conflict ensues. It’s often hard to talk about money in a relationship, but buying a house together puts all of the cards on the table. If either party has unmentioned student loans, credit card debt, or an inheritance he or she prefers to keep private, entering into a serious financial agreement like a mortgage bares it all. Although this is a financial conversation that a couple is supposed to have anyway, seeing the hard evidence can be reassuring for some.
Things For Unmarried People To Think About When Buying A House.
For example, will you own the house as joint tenants (meaning that you both own the whole thing) or as tenants in common (so you each own half, or some alternative portion, like 60/40)? Whatever you decide, you’ll agree and put it in writing.
It might not be your fantasy to trade in the white dress for a white picket fence, and that’s fair. (“And so, the prince and princess signed their mortgage documents and drove off to look at window treatments and throw rugs…”) All the same, the rising trend tells an interesting story. Whether this pattern is a result of the economy or changing social standards, more and more couples are painting a story of utilitarianism, practicality, open discussion of finances. And hey, what’s sexier than utilitarianism?