Mar 10, 2024 - Economy

Why more people are buying houses with their friends

Illustration of a best friend necklace with a charm in the shape of a house.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Roughly half of Americans are willing to split the bill on buying a home in less traditional ways, per a new study.

Why it matters: Buying with a friend is one way to make this wild market more manageable.

Driving the news: A recent survey from JW Surety Bonds saw some 15% of Americans have gone in on a home with someone other than a romantic partner.

  • People who split a mortgage with a friend might also see it as an avenue to build and sustain community, experts told Axios.

By the numbers: Co-ownership rates grew 21.1%, on average, among non-married partners in 2023, compared to the previous year in the top 10 U.S. counties with the largest co-ownership transaction growth, per co-ownership marketplace Pacaso.

  • The top 10 counties fell within Virginia, Utah, North Dakota, Minnesota and Colorado.

The big picture: Americans are delaying getting married and having kids, but younger people — also burdened with student loan debt — are finally reaching a point of stability to buy homes rather than rent.

Reality check: There are potential financial risks to consider when deciding to go in on a home with a non-spouse.

  • If one person has a bad credit score, that could negatively influence the mortgage terms, per the mortgage lender Rocket Mortgage.
  • If one person in the agreement fails to pay their part of the mortgage payments, it can also hurt the other's credit score.

Between the lines: The initial draws for co-owning are often financial, but people might stay in such arrangements "for emotional reasons," Niles Lichtenstein, co-founder and CEO of Nestment, told Axios.

  • The co-buying platform sees a range of multi-generational groups living under one roof. "I think there's a real desire for connection and support," Lichtenstein said.

Rhaina Cohen, award-winning NPR journalist and author, lives with her husband, two of their friends and their two children.

  • "I think there's increasing recognition that one person is not going to be your everything, or it's not wise to look for that," she tells Axios.

Go deeper: How much owning a home really costs in the U.S.

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