Married People Are More Likely to Own a Home—But Here’s Hope for You

published Feb 9, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Westend61/Getty Images)

First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes an 18 percent higher probability of being a homeowner.

According to research from the Urban Institute, delayed marriage is a major factor holding millennials back from homeownership. If the marriage rates were the same as they were in 1990, the millennial homeownership rate would be about five percentage points higher, says the Washington, D.C.-based economic and social policy research institute.

Of course this makes sense as having two income streams can make it easier to afford a down payment and qualify for a bigger home loan, assuming both partners are bringing some cash and good credit to the table. Being married can also provide a safety net should a financial emergency arise—you know the whole “for richer or poorer” deal.

So, should you wait until you’ve got a wedding ring on your finger to sign those closing documents? Absolutely not, say real estate and financial experts.

Plus, lots of singles are buying homes. According to a recent analysis from LendingTree, on average, single women own around 22 percent of homes in the U.S.—outpacing men, who own less than 13 percent of homes. This is particularly interesting since the average woman in the U.S. only makes 80 percent of what the average man is paid.

“If your job is stable, and you strongly believe that you reside in a city you happily call home, why not invest in a home of your own, build your equity, and create a nest egg for your future?” says Jeremy Kamm, a real estate agent with Warburg Realty in New York City.

The experts’ Valentine’s gift to singles this year: Advice on how to buy a home by your own damn self.

There are many advantages to owning a home while single

You don’t have to compromise with anyone else

We’ve all seen the house-hunting reality shows where couples are majorly split over what they’re looking for. It’s… uncomfortable.

When you’re buying a home by yourself, though, there’s only one opinion that matters, points out Kate Ziegler, an investor and Realtor with Arborview Realty in Boston: yours!

“Solo buyers will have no bickering over the basics of a kitchen, no debating whether a mudroom is a must-have, no disagreements over what to do with the wallpaper,” she says. “Single buyers might be surprised how much energy can be lost to these discussions in a coupled house hunt, and they can skip to the front of that line and get right to the offer.”

You will get beneficial tax deductions

Plus, if you’re single and childless, it’s highly likely you’re getting sacked with higher taxes than those who are married with kids. Owning a home can help spell r-e-l-i-e-f as it comes with some great tax deductions, points out Jennifer Carey, director of sales at REAL New York, a real estate company. Property taxes are deductible up to $10,000 a year, she says. Mortgage interest is tax deductible for loans up to $750,000 (and, possibly higher if you bought before Dec. 15, 2017), but, if you were married and filing separately, that cap would be $375,000 for individuals.

Also, a universal truth—whether you’re married or single—is the sooner you get in the real estate market, the sooner you stop paying rent and start building wealth through home appreciation and equity, says Robert E. Tait, a senior loan officer with Allied Mortgage Group.

Tips for buying a home if you’re single

So, you’re now thinking about buying a home as a single person? High five to that. Here’s some advice to help turn your homeownership dreams into reality:

Get real about your budget

Take a hard look at your monthly expenses, suggests Tait, and figure out where your discretionary spending is going. Be prepared to sacrifice in order to buy a home. The sacrifice might be as simple as cutting back on lunches or dinners out, or going to the movies, concerts, and sporting events; or perhaps even holding off on buying a new car for a few more years, he says. When you’re about to make those purchases, Tait suggests putting the money in savings to go towards a home purchase instead.

Consider getting a roommate while you save

Maybe the sacrifice is getting a roommate or two in your current rental, Tait says. Or, maybe you move back home with your parents for a year or two so you can save some money for your down payment.

“Remember, this is all a short-term sacrifice,” he says.

Crunch the numbers—and trust them

Run a variety of scenarios and talk things over with a lender you trust, and be sure your potential monthly payment is manageable, Ziegler suggests. To get more comfortable with the “what if” factor, research market rents in your target area to determine what you could expect to get for rent if, hypothetically, you met your soulmate next month—but they lived in a different state and you wanted to move, she says.

Try ‘house hacking’

Remember that your first purchase doesn’t have to be your forever home, says Ziegler.

“A smaller home for one or a larger unit subsidized by roommates can be a great investment now, no matter what your love life serves up next,” she says. By house hacking, you can rent out rooms or units in your home to help cover a large chunk of your mortgage.

You may want to look for a home that would be attractive to married couples

Even if you’re single and childless, it may make sense to look for a home that would be attractive to a family. Sure, you may marry and start a family of your own at some point down the road. But even if you don’t, it’s smart to think about who your potential buyer will be when you move.

“When I’ve represented single buyers, I’ve advised them to keep an open perspective on who their potential buyers could be,” says Emil Hartoonian, a real estate agent with The Agency in Los Angeles. Oftentimes, it’s a family. Of course, talking with your real estate agent will help you best understand the nuances of the markets and neighborhoods you’re shopping in.

Now that you feel empowered to buy your own—it’s time to start thinking about what it will be like to say goodbye to roommate life. Here, seven ways to embrace living alone.