Decades ago, the iconic characters from the 1980s TV series “The Golden Girls” – Dorothy, Blanche, Rose, and Sophia – illustrated a unique living situation, residing together without the presence of spouses or significant partners. This depiction, seen as an anomaly then, might be a growing trend in today’s housing market.
Recent data from LendingTree suggests that a considerable 29% of Americans are entertaining such a homebuying setup. Delving deeper into these statistics reveals that 63% would think about purchasing a property with a non-spousal family member, while 57% are willing to buy alongside a close friend or a present roommate. Jacob Channel, LendingTree’s senior economist, opines that this trend is less about changing social dynamics and more a reflection of the current state of the housing market. He notes, “With the soaring cost of homes nowadays, several individuals are exploring alternative avenues to own property.”
It’s undeniable that buying a house today can be daunting. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) places the median price of existing homes in June at a staggering $410,200, hovering around an unprecedented peak. Add to this, the average rate on a 30-year mortgage has escalated beyond 7% due to a series of increases by the Federal Reserve. Together, these aspects make entering the housing market a Herculean task.
Take Gus Gibbs from Boise, Idaho, for instance. In 2021, he took the plunge and jointly purchased a three-bedroom house with his partner and her sibling. Explaining the shared commitment, Gibbs, an avid ultrarunner, said, “Pooling our resources and jointly addressing the down payment allowed us to escape skyrocketing rental rates. We’re thankful for making the move when we did.”
While the overall percentage of individuals buying homes with someone other than their spouse or partner remains limited (around 3% of the entire market), it spikes to 5% for first-time homeowners, as per NAR’s data.
Jessica Lautz, NAR’s Deputy Chief Economist and VP of Research, suggests that this percentage, particularly among first-time buyers, is the highest ever recorded. She observes, “Pooling resources, especially when grappling with housing affordability issues, is becoming a feasible solution for many.”
However, as promising as this approach sounds, it isn’t devoid of potential pitfalls. Before considering a shared homeownership journey, akin to the Golden Girls, it’s essential to evaluate potential challenges and ensure everyone’s interests are protected.