How does marriage affect homebuying?
Historically, marriage and homeownership have gone hand in hand, creating an implied pattern of lifetime milestones. In fact, being married has been shown to increase a person’s likelihood of owning a property by 20 percent according to the Urban Institute.
But as housing prices and mortgage rates have increased, so has the average age of marriage. So how has the trend of delayed marriage impacted the housing market?
The average age of marriage has been increasing since the 1950s.
The average age of marriage in 1950 was 22.8 years for men and 20.3 years for women. By 2000, the average had risen to 26.8 and 25.1 years, respectively. This pattern continued into 2018, with the average age of marriage at 29.8 for men and 27.8 for women.
Should this delay in marriage be a concern?
Not necessarily. Twenty-seven percent of recent buyers were single and 8 percent were unmarried couples. Waiting to marry gives today’s buyers the benefit of more stable careers, higher annual incomes and the ability to save more for a down payment.
Some argue that delayed marriage could hurt the new construction industry. But given that more buyers are entering the housing market unmarried and with higher incomes, it also points to a potential boost in the high-end market.
You have an opportunity to offer guidance.
Unmarried couples and non-married co-buyers will need to choose between joint tenancy and tenancy in common. Each presents different legal obligations of ownership and survivorship. For single buyers, survivorship should be established through an estate plan. You can help by facilitating a discussion about your clients’ long-term goals and then refer them to a real estate attorney.
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