Marriage is closely associated with homebuying.

Married couples are far more likely to buy a home than any other household type, making up 61% of homebuyers across all age categories, according to the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report (based on 2018 data).

Delayed marriage contributes to delayed homebuying, thereby keeping younger adults in rental housing longer and helping sustain high multifamily demand.

The average age of U.S. adults at their first marriages has risen to historical highs. From 1960 to 2019, the average rose seven years for both men and women. Over the past 10 years alone, the average climbed by two years. In 2019, the average age was 29.8 years for men and 28.0 for women.

RB 109 - Age At First Marriage_Figure 1

RB 109 - Age At First Marriage_Figure 2

Yet, Importance of Marriage for Homebuying Declining

Delayed marriage clearly helps explain delayed homebuying. Yet, marriage is less important for homebuying today.

As recently as 2016, NAR reported that 65% of homebuyers were married compared to 2018's 61%. Non-married couples living together, single-person households and single-parent households are more common today and better represented among homebuyers than in the past. NAR reported that single women accounted for 17% of homebuyers in 2018, single men 9% and unmarried couples 9%.

Fifty years ago, 72% of all adults 18+ were married compared to 53% today according to Census data. The share of adults that have been married at least once (but may currently be unmarried due to divorce or widowhood) has fallen from 85% in 1960 to 61% today.

Homebuying by the "non-traditional" households also partly explains the recent homeownership rising rates among households under 35 years olds (larger increases than other age groups). NAR also reported that the 24-to-35 year-olds represented 25% of all home purchases in 2018, the largest share of homebuyers among seven age cohorts.

RB 109 - Age At First Marriage_Figure 3

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