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.

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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.

HSH Associates Financial News Blog

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