You know the old saying, “First comes love, then comes marriage.” Well, millennials are changing up this old rhyme and inserting buying a home before walking down the aisle. According to new research and a Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey, nearly 25% of married couples ages 18 to 34 bought a home together before they were married. By contrast, just 14% of married couples ages 45 and older said they purchased a home before saying “I do.”
Psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig says that millennials simply have a different attitude when it comes to commitment. She adds, “People are very commitment oriented, but millennials are much more pragmatic. I think millennials are saying that if we want to have the life we want, we need to make smart decisions early on. The home becomes the new engagement ring—and in some ways, the new wedding.”
But some naysayers point to the legal ramifications of purchasing a home out of wedlock. John Braun, a real estate attorney at Thomas Law Group, has some additional advice for millennials who might be considering the purchase of a home together before they get married. He points out that purchasing a home together without being married offers equal ownership, but not joint ownership. Incidentally, if one partner passes away, their shares of the home will be transferred to their heirs instead of the other partner.
He adds, “When I am not scaring people away from [buying a house before marriage] altogether, I usually recommend that they have an agreement that governs their ownership interests whatever happens. This kind of contract sets forth the contributions made by each party, establishes a right of either party to demand that the property be sold and makes a bunch of other decisions by agreement in advance that are impossible to make by agreement when the parties hate each other. This is an area where an hour or two with an attorney can really pay off in the long run; untangling these interests down the road is a time-consuming—and expensive—undertaking.”