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April 25th, 2013 (Modified on May 30th, 2017)

Buying a home instead of an engagement ring



Portrait of a relaxed young couple using a laptopThe long-recognized trend of couples living together before marriage has encouraged a new pattern: more couples are buying a home together before their wedding.

A new study from Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate revealed that one in four couples between the ages of 18 and 34 bought a home together before they got married, compared to 14 percent of married couples age 45 and older. Among all the married couples surveyed, 17 percent purchased a home together before their wedding day.

Even couples who don’t buy a home together are more likely to live together than in the past. A CDC study showed that between 2006 and 2010, 48 percent of American women ages 15 through 44 said they had lived with a romantic partner, compared to just 34 percent in 1995.

Home buying trend

Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and Coldwell Banker Real Estate lifestyle correspondent, teamed up with the Harris Interactive market research firm to look into the emotional side of home buying.

Read: 4 ways to get your spouse to say ‘I do’ to a refinance

Ninety two percent who had bought a home after marriage said buying together was a “positive milestone in their relationship and life together.”

“What we’re seeing is that young couples are switching up the order and purchasing their first home regardless of whether or not they have set a wedding date,” Ludwig said in a press release. “This is a huge movement within the American culture. While younger generations may be focusing more on their career, and in turn waiting longer to get married and have children, they are not delaying their dream of homeownership.”

Thirty-five percent of married couples (including those who bought a home before marriage) purchased their first home together before their second wedding anniversary and another 20 percent purchased their home between their second and fourth anniversary.

“The homebuying process forces couples to deal with their competing feelings of money and how to spend it and that is why successfully purchasing a home with someone else is deemed a significant accomplishment in any relationship,” wrote Ludwig. “It means the couple has been able to overcome their differences in an effort to create a better future together.”

Tips for purchasing a home together

Dr. Ludwig offers five tips for couples who want to purchase a home:

  • Be willing to compromise on your needs and wants. Each spouse should make a list of what you hope to find in a home and understand that you have to cooperate to overcome their differences.
  • Set priorities together. As a couple, decide which features are the most important for your combined future.
  • Be open and honest about your finances. Couples often fight about money, so if you can communicate effectively and openly about your finances you can strengthen your relationship.
  • Plan for the future. A home purchase should be part of a long-term plan for your careers and perhaps a family.
  • Be patient and have fun. Home buying can be stressful, but the experience can also help a couple learn more about each other and cement their bond.

The survey showed that 80 percent of couples said that buying a home did more to strengthen their relationship than any other purchase they made together, and 35 percent wished they had bought a home sooner.

6 Responses to “Buying a home instead of an engagement ring”

  1. Buying a home instead of an engagement ring | HSH Financial News Blog | Selling Real Estate SF Says: April 27th, 2013 at 8:55 am

    […] The long-recognized trend of couples living together before marriage has encouraged a new pattern: m…Share this:ShareEmailPrintDiggStumbleUponTwitterFacebookRedditGoogle +1LinkedIn […]

  2. home mortgage rates today Says: April 29th, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Fantastic.Really it’s a great post.

  3. Mitch Mitchell Says: April 29th, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Interesting stuff Michele. I knew more couples were living together but I’ve always assumed it was in apartments. Truthfully I think I’d cringe if I were to try to buy a house with someone I wasn’t married to, mainly because I’d be worried about what could happen if we decided to break up; ugh! However, knowing what my wife and I went through while looking for a house, if a couple can survive that process relatively unscathed their marriage might have a real chance of surviving when they eventually decide to go that direction.

  4. Tim Manni Says: May 1st, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Hey Mitch! Great to see you’re still following our blog–you’ve been around since the beginning! I agree with you–buying a home with someone I wasn’t married to would be the last thing I’d do. Hope you’re doing well, thanks for commenting, Tim

  5. Before you wed | Contemplating Love Says: May 1st, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    […] Buying a home instead of an engagement ring (hsh.com) […]

  6. Alexa Says: May 8th, 2013 at 5:02 am

    I definitely agree with the first comment: most people end up living together before they’re married, or sometimes even engaged. But it’s never too early to start saving for a house! I plan to do the same thing if I am sure that I am ready to start a family, and I think most people would look to doing that also. Ultimately, renting can be costly.

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HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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