More and more couples are deciding to put their wedding funds toward purchasing a house together and waiting to say “I do,” reports Coldwell Banker in a real estate survey released last week. About a quarter of all married couples ages 18 to 34 actually bought their home together before they tied the knot, compared to 14 percent of married couples 45 years of age and older. The shift indicates changing attitudes toward commitment, says psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, who believes that “millennials are much more pragmatic” when it comes to their finances and that “the home becomes the new engagement ring – and in some ways, the new wedding.” She added that “the boundary of needing to be married before purchasing a home has been broken”. For many, the decision to get engaged also indicates the start of the house-hunting process, even if they buy before they actually wed, and often the money that would traditionally have been set aside for an engagement ring or lavish wedding is now being put toward a down payment.
Of course, moral and ethical arguments aside, buying a home before you are married gives rise to some complicated legal issues. Real estate attorney John Braun says that he recommends against doing so, but if an unmarried couple decides to forge ahead they need a much clearer contract delineating ownership interests than a married couple would. That contract should specify what happens to the property in the event of a breakup, a death, and financial hardship on the part of either party.
by Carole VanSickle