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Will Unmarried Homebuyers Tip the Home Buying Scales?

Revisiting population data, the U.S. Census Bureau recently zeroed in on the living arrangements of adults over the last 40-plus years. Notably, the majority of adults in both 1970 and 2014 shared a household with a spouse. But if trends bear out, the gap between married adults and unmarried adults sharing households will close—fast.

As of last year, spouses sharing a household edged out unmarried adults in various living situations by a mere 3.3 percent. What’s more, arrangements in which spouses share households have seen the most significant change since 1970, declining nearly 20 percent. A comparison:

1970
Adults Who Live with a Spouse – 69.4 percent
Adults Who Live Alone – 8.6 percent
Adults Who Live with Other Relatives – 9.3 percent
Adults Who Live in the Parental Home – 10.8 percent
Adults Who Live with a Partner* – 0.5 percent
Adults Who Live with Non-Relatives – 1.4 percent

2014
Adults Who Live with a Spouse – 51.7 percent
Adults Who Live Alone – 14.3 percent
Adults Who Live with Other Relatives – 12.2 percent
Adults Who Live in the Parental Home – 11.0 percent
Adults Who Live with a Partner* – 7.3 percent
Adults Who Live with Non-Relatives – 3.6 percent

The combined growth in other types of living arrangements could equal more opportunities for real estate professionals among the next crop of marriage-averse homebuyers—in theory. But in fact, many are experiencing the contrary to a considerable degree.

“Over 90 percent of my local homebuying clients are married (with children),” says George Gardone of a company that specializes in relocation. “The majority of my sellers are married, either empty nesters, families outgrowing their current homes, or they are on the other end of a corporate relocation program.”

Gardone says approximately 80 percent of his corporate clients are also married with families.

And yet, according to a recent survey, 17 percent of now-married respondents purchased a home together before saying “I do”—a quarter of which were millennials.

“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,” explained Dr. Robi Ludwig, a real estate lifestyle correspondent and leading psychotherapist. “This is a huge movement within the American culture.”

Based on these findings, we have to wonder: will unmarried homebuyers tip the scales?

To view Census tables on this information, 
click here.

*From 1967-1995, “living with a partner” was defined as two unrelated adults of the opposite sex sharing living quarters. From 1996-2006, “living with a partner” included couples in which one was the householder. Due to data collection changes beginning in 2007, all cohabitating partners are now counted, regardless of whether one is a householder.

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