New Study Reflects America’s Changing Views on Marriage

Should couples wait until marriage? Times are changing, and a new study from Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC uncovered that about one in four married couples between the ages of 18 to 34 purchased their first home together before their wedding date, compared to 14 percent of those ages 45 and older. According to the survey, 35 percent of all married couples purchased their first home together by their second wedding anniversary, and 80 percent of married homeowners who purchased their home while married said it did more to strengthen their relationship than any other purchase they made together.

“While life goals and expectations continue to weigh on young couples, their views of homeownership are transcending their plans of marriage and starting a family, creating a direct effect on the patterns of buying a home altogether,” said Dr. Robi Ludwig, a leading psychotherapist and Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC lifestyle correspondent.  “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. 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.”

Survey Trends: Love, Marriage and Homebuying 

  • New Homes for Newlyweds: More than one in three married homeowners (35 percent) purchased their first home together by their second wedding anniversary.
  • Cold Feet? Not These Couples: 17 percent of all married couples surveyed purchased a home together before their wedding day.
  • Millennials are Less Likely to Wait Until Marriage: 24 percent of married homeowners ages 18 to 34 bought a home together before they were married, compared to 14 percent of those ages 45 and older.
  • Southerners Take Their Time: 72 percent of married Americans in the South waited until after they were married to purchase a home, compared to 60 percent of Americans in the Northeast.
  • To Have and to Hold … and to Own: Only 16 percent of married U.S. adults have not purchased a home together with their current spouse.

“When a couple buys their first home, it’s one of the most exciting new experiences they ever will share together,” said Dr. Robi Ludwig. “They not only learn about each other’s wishes and dreams during this process, but they also learn how to be practical with each other and compromise. Buying a home has more of an impact on a couple’s relationship than any other purchase they will ever make. It bonds two people together and makes them a family.”

Impact of Homebuying on a Marriage

  • 93 percent of homeowners who purchased their first home while married always planned on owning a home after marrying.
  • 80 percent said purchasing a home with their spouse did more to strengthen their relationship as a couple and family than any other purchase they have made together.
  • Over one-third of married homeowners (35 percent) wish they had taken the plunge (into homeownership) sooner than they actually did.

Tips from Dr. Robi Ludwig for Couples Buying Their First Home Before (or After) Marriage

  • Decide “needs” vs. “wants,” and be willing to compromise.  According to Ludwig, no one gets everything on their checklist, so it’s important to get a home that pleases you both. When under pressure, it’s not uncommon to uncover conflicting values, interests, likes, dislikes and tastes to come out and create tension. When a couple is searching for a new home together, their ideas of what’s ideal are greatly influenced by their respective backgrounds, childhoods and the homes they grew up in. They can also be influenced by the fantasy of the homes they always wanted to grow up in. Patience, understanding, compassion and compromise are key to neutralizing conflict and overcoming our differences.
  • Prioritize what’s important in a home, together. Does the location work? Do you plan to stay in the area for a few years? Make an independent list and then compare notes. Even the closest couples are still two separate people with two separate ideas and agendas. Searching for a home can bring up a couple’s different priorities and ideas about life. Working together to decide what is best for a combined future strengthens the bond between individuals and prepares couples to effectively deal with future disagreements when they arise.
  • Be open, honest and organized with your finances. This includes the ability to talk about personal savings, debts, budgets and credit ratings. Money is one of the leading causes of marital discord. According to some studies considered by Ludwig, women view money as a sign of security, stability and lifestyle, while for men, money tends to be more about winning, losing and self-esteem. Being able to communicate effectively about your finances is critical to a successful relationship. One thing is clear; you can’t have a good relationship unless you can communicate effectively about money and finances.
  • Think about your future for three, five and even 10 years down the road. Before buying a home, talk to your partner about plans for your career, having a family, and what that means in terms of neighborhood and space. For some people, being asked to think about their future needs can create anxiety. Supporting each other when these anxieties and fears naturally come up is very important for couples to learn how to do, especially during the home buying process.
  • Be patient, but have fun! You’ll be learning a lot about each other during this process. A home is one of the biggest investments for a couple’s long-term wealth building, so make sure to be smart and knowledgeable about the experience from beginning to end.