Why So Many Unmarried Couples Are Buying Houses
Money + Markets

Why So Many Unmarried Couples Are Buying Houses

As the number of couples who cohabitate without getting married has skyrocketed, it appears they’re finding a way to show their commitment to each other that doesn’t involve rings or vows: They’re buying houses.

Among young (age 24 to 35) home-buying couples, 15 percent are not married, a 50 percent increase from 2005, according to a new analysis by Zillow.

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The rate of unmarried, young couples buying homes together varies by city, with Las Vegas having the highest rate; in 2015, 23.8 percent of couples age 24 to 35 buying homes in Las Vegas were unmarried. Other top cities include Philadelphia (23.4 percent), St. Louis (19.9 percent) and Portland, Oregon (19.4 percent). The high numbers in those areas may have more to do with the price of homes in those cities than with the couple’s long-term relationship goals.

“Buying a home is a big part of the American dream – equally shared by millennials and Baby Boomers alike – but it’s becoming extremely difficult to make it work on a single income,” Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell said in a statement. “Many singles looking to purchase a home on their own may not make enough money to afford or qualify for a mortgage on their dream home.”

Nearly three-quarters of all homebuyers are now married or in a relationship, and the share of buyers who are single has fallen more than 10 percent over the past decade.

Millennials represent the largest share of homebuyers, making up 42 percent of the market.