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KIRO Radio's Tom Kelly digs deep into the Puget Sound real estate market

Real Estate

New engagement: Mortgage before marriage

More young couples are choosing a mortgage before marriage, according to a new survey from Coldwell Banker.

Twenty-four percent of married couples surveyed aged 18-to-34 said they had purchased a home before they were married. Of married couples aged 45 and up, only 14 percent said they had purchased a house before marriage.

Unmarried couples who live in the Northeast are the most likely to buy a home together prior to marriage, according to the survey.

In the Northeast, 60 percent of those surveyed said they waited until marriage to buy a home together, compared to 72 percent in the South.

For some young couples, buying a home together has become "the new engagement ring," said Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist and Coldwell Banker's "lifestyle correspondent." Millennials "know that they have an opportunity here, with low mortgage rates and low housing prices. And they think, 'We're moving toward marriage anyway, so let's buy.'"

Some are even choosing to bypass the fancy wedding and honeymoon and save up for a down payment instead, Ludwig says.

Couples are finding they can learn a lot about their future spouse when buying a home first, including about one another's finances and even how many kids the other wants one day, since that often comes into play in finding a suitable size and style of home.

"It's easy for couples to not think or talk about these things, but they're forced to once mortgages and banks are involved," Ludwig said.

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