The share of couples including “home funds” as part of their wedding registry has increased by 55 percent since 2018, according to a joint analysis released Thursday by Zillow and The Knot.

With homeownership reaching new levels of unattainability, more newlywed couples are turning to their gift registry to help buy a home, according to a new analysis by Zillow released Thursday.

According to the joint analysis from Zillow Home Loans and the wedding media company The Knot, the share of couples including “home funds” as part of their wedding registry has increased 55 percent since 2018, with nearly 20 percent of all couples registered with The Knot asking their wedding guests to contribute funds to help them with a down payment on their first home.

“Home funds were one of the most popular wedding registry cash funds on The Knot in 2022 — the second, in fact, right behind the honeymoon fund,” said Esther Lee, deputy editor of The Knot.

“Amid rising interest rates and historic highs for down payments, this particular wedding contribution helps newlyweds reach another meaningful life milestone: homeownership.”

Recent research from Zillow shows that half of all current prospective homebuyers are in the market to purchase their first home, the highest share they have ever recorded. In 2023, 43 percent of first-time buyers reported using gift funds from friends and family to help make their down payment, according to the report.

With mortgage rates now hovering around 8 percent, affordability and availability are the greatest hurdles for first-time homebuyers. It now takes nearly 12 years for a typical first-time buyer to save up for a down payment, compared to nine years prior to the pandemic, according to Zillow.  In that same period, the typical monthly mortgage payment has more than doubled.

For a $350,000 home asking a 20 percent down payment, a couple would need to come up with $70,000 for a down payment and expect to spend $2,334 a month on a mortgage payment, the study notes.

“Young couples may be eschewing convention when it comes to their weddings, but they still aspire to achieve the age-old American dream of homeownership,” said Amanda Pendleton, a personal finance expert at Zillow Home Loans.

“That dream, however, can feel out of reach without the right support. For couples who choose to add down payment funds to their registry, it’s important that they also work with a qualified loan officer to understand what they can afford and what loan options fit their situation. First-time buyers often think a 20 percent down payment is required, but that’s not always the case. Some may qualify for a down payment as low as 3 percent, which will change their savings timeline and monthly payment dramatically.”

Email Ben Verde

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