Marriage and home buying seem to go hand in hand, as the National Association of Realtors recently reported the highest share of married couples and lowest share of single buyers in almost twelve years. Of all 2012 homebuyers, the NAR found that 65 percent were married and 16 percent were single.
There are two important factors involved, says Michael Corbett, real estate expert and author of the best seller “Find it, Fix It, Flip It!” (Plume, 2006). “First, you’ve got a lot of married couples who have been sitting on the side lines waiting to come into the market, and this has been a fantastic year to get back in,” he says, noting that low interest rates make it easier for buyers to purchase a home.
Secondly, Corbett points to the tightening of mortgage qualifications. “Mortgages these days are based very much on incomes and debt-to-income ratios,” he explains. “It’s a lot more challenging for a buyer with one income rather than buyers with two [sources of income] to qualify for a loan.”
Erin Baehr of Baehr Family Financial, Stroudsburg, Pa., says a poor job market may also contribute to these record numbers. “Post college, people are taking a lot longer to get settled,” she says. “Their incomes aren’t high, they’ve got student loan debt and they’re not finding full-time jobs.”
Even those with full-time positions may be hesitant to purchase a home if they aren’t satisfied with their jobs. She says, “If that’s the case, they may not be willing to put down a roof somewhere.”
However, there’s hope yet for singles who want to buy a home. Jacquette Timmons, president and CEO of Sterling Investment Management, Inc., New York, describes two of her clients – friends – who went in on a home mortgage together. “This may not be possible depending on where you live,” she says. “But these days, people are getting creative.” — Melissa Kandel