A trend among Millennials is increasing the percent of unmarried couples buying homes. They aren’t in a rush to get married, but they’re committed, and purchasing a home together is definitely a sign of commitment while being a much more time-sensitive investment. Compared to 1985, the percent of married first-time homebuyers has dropped 18%, from 75% to 57%.
Buying a home without being married can have some added complexity, though. Though most Millennials are too young to think about what will happen when they die yet, it does come up in homeownership rights. Married couples are able to be “tenants by the entirety,” meaning both spouses own 100% of the property and it’s harder to go after one spouse’s debt as long as both are alive. This doesn’t apply to unmarried couples, though. Their choice is between “joint tenancy” and “tenancy in common.” Joint tenancy allows the property to go to the partner after death, while tenancy in common may be better if you want the property to go to your heirs. In either case, banks will hold both parties individually and fully responsible for debt. It isn’t much simpler for single homebuyers who still need to establish inheritance in some way, probably in a will, and are completely on their own in terms of debt.