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Friends are buying homes together. Here's why.

As housing becomes more and more unaffordable, people unrelated to one another are joining forces to achieve the American dream.
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Millennials may not be having kids or getting married right now, but this generation is investing in homeownership — with a twist. They're co-buying houses with friends.

“We split everything three ways, so it’s cheaper to live,” said Amanda Scheider, 30, who lives Gallatin, Tennessee, with close friends Kathy Keel, 30, and Stephanie Vandergrift, 28. “If you have good friends, you have a lot in common and you can pretty much hang out whenever ... it’s like a permanent sleepover.”

The trio began as roommates renting a house in Goodlettsville, but they now own and live in a three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bathroom, single-family home on 1.25 acres of land. The red-brick, two-story home includes a bonus room, office and finished garage. Their $315,000 mortgage is scheduled to be paid off in 30 years.

Image: Single-family home owned by three millennials in Tennessee
A single-family home owned by three millennials in Tennessee.Arleen Aguasvivas / NBC News

“We don’t have any plans to go anywhere,” Schneider said. “None of us are dating currently. We’re all focused on our careers. So for now, yeah, it’s for the foreseeable future. We plan to stay.”  

They found the house in April 2020 and bought it one month later.  

The women are part of a growing trend in homebuying as the housing market becomes increasingly unaffordable for middle-class families, real estate experts say.

The number of homes bought by people with different last names has increased by nearly 772 percent from 2010 to last July, according to real estate analytics firm Attom Data Solutions. That includes friends, roommates or married couples who bought single-family homes and condos nationwide over that period, according to Attom.

Co-buying is the result, in part, of a “really difficult” housing market, said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist at real estate brokerage Redfin.

“We built fewer homes in the last decade than we did any decade going back to the 1960s,” Fairweather said. “It makes it really hard to do things like plan those next steps of life, like starting a family, when you can’t even get past that barrier of homeownership.” 

Unlike previous generations, millennials are getting married and having kids later, if at all, and carry an average of nearly $90,000 in debt, according to an Experian consumer debt study.

Sixty-three percent of millennials do not have money saved for a down payment on a home, according to Apartment List.

And, of course, those venturing into homebuying are navigating a pandemic economy.

“Before the pandemic, about a third of homes would sell in under two weeks, but now it’s nearly half of homes that sell in under two weeks,” Fairweather said. “A big part of that has been just how competitive the housing market is.” 

With the era of ultra-low mortgage rates coming to an end, it will become more expensive to borrow money to buy a home, she said, making co-buying with friends more appealing than ever. 

For those considering the idea, economists advise crafting a formal, written co-buying agreement that includes terms for various scenarios, including ending the arrangement or options to buy out a friend who chooses to leave.

Image: Kathy Keel cleans her dining room floor
Kathy Keel cleans her dining room floor. Arleen Aguasvivas / NBC News

Schneider, Keel and Vandergrift said potential buyers should brace for a crash course in maintenance and overall adulting adventures.

“I was not expecting the amount of work or money that would go into it,” Vandergrift said.  

The friends have spent an estimated $1,500 on renovations and still plan to update the kitchen and floors, which they anticipate will be costly.  

Even with the added expenses, the women said they don’t regret buying a home together and hope it will host their friendship for years to come. 

“This is like the best living situation I’ve ever had,” Keel said.