More Couples Put the House Before the Ring
February 14, 2020
Is the declining number of marriages contributing to fewer first-time home buyers? In the 1980s, the number of married couples in the ranks of first-time buyers peaked at 75%. Flash forward to today, when only 53% of first-time buyers are married couples, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.
So who are the other buyers making up the housing market today? The share of unmarried couples purchasing their first home is now matching single females at 17%, the largest share recorded by NAR to date.
Also increasing is the share of “galentines” buying a home together, notes Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, at the association’s Economists’ Outlook blog. Galentines refers to platonic friendships, such as roommates. These buyers have made a notable jump, from 2% to 4% of the market in the last year, Lautz notes.
Unmarried couples and roommate buyers may have an advantage over single buyers helping them to increase their numbers: dual incomes. “Dual incomes allow them to navigate the housing market and perhaps allow them to purchase a home that is at a higher price point where they may face less competition in the buying market,” Lautz writes.
Still, 17% of recent first-time buyers are single females, although that share has dropped from a high of 27%. “This drop is likely due to housing affordability,” Lautz notes. “It is harder for a single-income individual to enter the competitive housing market the U.S. is facing today. Notably, while single men have traditionally had smaller shares of home buyers, the share of single men has now crept up to 10% of the first-time buyer market.”
“Galentines vs. Valentines Home Buyers,” National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog (Feb. 13, 2020)
Updated: May 10, 2021