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April 18, 2013

Kids These Days....

Is the Blog Princess the only one who thinks this is just nuts?

Millennial couples are more likely to buy a house together before they take their wedding vows than their parents and grandparents were, according to a new Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey.

Almost a quarter of married homeowners aged 18 to 34 bought a home together before they were married, compared with 14% of those aged 45 and older.

It's good news for the housing industry that has fretted about a steadily growing trend: Every year, men and women are waiting longer to get married. In 2012, the median age of men who married for the first time was 28.6, up from 26.1 in 1990. Women: 26.6, up from 23.9.

Since buying a home often follows nuptials, delaying marriage could delay homeownership.

"We didn't expect to find that couples committed to each other to buy homes before they were married," says Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist who works for Coldwell on lifestyle surveys and buyer habits. "It's almost like buying a home is the new engagement ring."

When the spousal unit and I were dating, we discussed living together. But I didn't even consider the idea seriously. It's not that I had any moral objections - as a still young and naïve product of the 70s, I tended to think living together was "cool". What stopped me was that when I stopped and thought about it, I didn't really want the hassle of dealing with another human being 24/7 unless we knew the relationship was for keeps. In my mind, the negatives outweighed the positives.

Is this a healthy thing, or another sign of younger people having somewhat unrealistic expectations when it comes to relationships?

We married when The Unit was 20 and I was 19. We bought our first home at 23, mostly because we had two children and wanted to get into the housing market. When I look around the DC area, a lot of homes are on the market because the couple are divorcing.

Call me old fashioned, but buying a house is one of the most stressful decisions in life. It's hard for me to understand why anyone would want to place that much strain on their relationship that early. But maybe there's a crucible effect going on.

Posted by Cassandra at April 18, 2013 07:27 AM

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Comments

My husband and I were living not only with each other but with a bunch of other friends before we even became romantically involved. I can still remember the incredibly casual approach I had back then to co-habitation and, for that matter, to sex. Pre-HIV, of course. A complete Peyton Place of changing partners. I wanted to make a nest with someone so badly that it never would have occurred to me to wait for marriage.

Oddly, though, I would have thought long and hard before owning real estate jointly, or taking out a joint mortgage. I mean, a girl has to have limits!

Once we were married, we merged our finances entirely. We've never had separate bank accounts, for instance, and all property large enough to notice is in our joint names. It's "with all my worldly good I thee endow." So even though I did not formally hold any views about the sanctity of marriage, I acted in some ways as though I did.

Posted by: Texan99 at April 18, 2013 10:58 AM

We never had separate bank accounts until just a few years ago. Heck, we never had enough money to do that! :)

Most of our money still goes into "my" account because I'm the one who pays the bills. But they're both joint anyway, so it's really more a matter of convenience for The Unit - portioning off some money into a separate account makes it so he doesn't have to worry about whether there's some big bill pending - he can spend whatever's in his account and he only has to keep track of his own spending (not the household spending).

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2013 11:12 AM

I wanted to make a nest with someone so badly that it never would have occurred to me to wait for marriage.

That's the funny part - by that time, I had figured out that I was committed to him for the long haul. I've never been a particularly hard-headed person when it comes to love. I'd be very cautious about dating if something ever happened to the Unit because I take relationships very seriously and sadly, there are a lot of people out there who don't.

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2013 11:15 AM

Daughter #1 and Son-in-Law bought house before being legally welded. I was skeptical at first (of course) but, as I soon discovered, I was also confused. And remain so to this very day.

Posted by: spd rdr at April 18, 2013 11:34 AM

There are a lot of us "confused parents" out there these days :p

Posted by: Cassandra at April 18, 2013 11:58 AM

"legally welded"

I don't care if it's a typo, I still like it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 18, 2013 12:15 PM

I wanted to make a nest with someone so badly that it never would have occurred to me to wait for marriage.

Oddly, though, I would have thought long and hard before owning real estate jointly, or taking out a joint mortgage. I mean, a girl has to have limits!

I was sort of the same way although from a more "glass half empty" perspective. I was willing to risk my heart by living with someone I wasn't married to but I wasn't willing to risk my finances by going into debt with someone I wasn't married to. Broken hearts heal; broken bank account don't.

So I do think people are nuts for taking on a huge financial obligation with someone they aren't married to. And it puzzles me: If they're sure enough about their future to buy a house together, why aren't they sure enough about it to get married? Or is that just not how they think about marriage?

It's interesting that the linked story talks about what percentage of married couples bought their homes before they were married. I wonder how many couples buy homes before getting married and then split up before they tie the knot.

Posted by: Elise at April 18, 2013 01:13 PM

"legally welded"

I don't care if it's a typo, I still like it.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 18, 2013 12:15 PM

What's a "typo?"

Posted by: spd rdr at April 18, 2013 01:14 PM

"So I do think people are nuts for taking on a huge financial obligation with someone they aren't married to. And it puzzles me: If they're sure enough about their future to buy a house together, why aren't they sure enough about it to get married? Or is that just not how they think about marriage?"

Ditto. I think it might have something to do with the view of marriage becoming a "capstone" on life ("I've got all my s*** together and now we can have that giant party to celebrate it") rather than the beginning of a life together. I've seen a couple of articles about that recently but don't remember where and feel too lazy to Google it right now. :P

As far as combining money/possessions before marriage I do NOT get it. I'm sure I'm being myopic about it, but it really doesn't seem loving to me to ask someone to risk their financial security by joining you when the two of you aren't sure you can trust each other enough to marry. I'm sure I'm missing something, though...

As for me and DH (who didn't even live together before we got married), it was amazing to see how much making all the money "ours" made those moving in decisions so easy--and buying all those little and not-so-little things you need when you move. I was prepared for all these arguments that would come from combining our lives, and they just never happened. He said, "I trust you to make good decisions, to respect my things and to talk to me about your plans and I'll do the same, so I'm fine." Part of it was surely his personality, but having just days before pledged ourselves to be each others' partner supporter in every way made all the smaller decisions so much easier.

I've seen it work perfectly well for others to do the exact opposite of what we did, but I'm unable to understand how they did it.

Posted by: FbL at April 18, 2013 04:39 PM

It's amazing how just being respectful to each other heads most conflicts off before they happen.

For years, my husband made all the money. The most I ever contributed was pocket change - enough to buy a piece of used furniture to refinish, or to do some landscaping we couldn't afford otherwise, or pay the kids' tuition at the local Catholic school because I wanted them to be in challenging classes.

The Unit was always fine with me making most of the household spending decisions. I'm naturally thrifty in small things (IOW, I save money on lots of little things so I can occasionally blow it on big things), and I've always been a saver. We've never lived beyond our means.

We've never really fought about money. When we fight, it's usually either about the kids (not a problem anymore, but it was more of an issue when they were younger) or about something personal. Maybe that's just because we have roughly the same approach to finances and that wasn't a conflict area for us?

I doubt it's anything I did right :p

Posted by: Cass at April 18, 2013 05:11 PM

I doubt it's anything I did right

Well, it must have been *something* you did right. If nothing else, you married the man who was right for you. That's more of an accomplishment than some people are willing to acknowledge. Especially considering you managed it at 19; I didn't get it right until I was 50. :+)

Posted by: Elise at April 18, 2013 06:37 PM

I wonder what the differential on rates is for married v. non-married co-habitating couples in that age range. I would think that your marriage would give the bank some confidence that it was loaning money to a couple likely to prosper (given the clear relationship between marriage and prosperity).

Posted by: Grim at April 18, 2013 07:45 PM

Marital status is a protected class. Can't use it in loan decisioning.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 19, 2013 09:01 AM

Is that so? That's fundamentally irrational, of course. It's one of the most obvious factors in the stability and prosperity of the unit to which you'd be loaning money.

Posted by: Grim at April 19, 2013 09:42 AM

Yep, you must treat 2 unmarried borrowers (siblings, dating, parent-child, gay couple) the same as two married borrowers.

It's kinda of a grey area as to whether you can treat 2 borrowers differently than 1 borrower since the having 2 borrowers correlates so highly with marital status. Even though "there is strength in numbers".

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at April 19, 2013 03:57 PM