The Increasing Presence of the Single Female Homeowner
Statistically, single women probably don’t enjoy the same level of buying power that single men have, but they are still increasingly becoming a powerful and prevalent group as new homeowners. A recent study survey of the real estate business revealed that single women are able to purchase somewhat less than 40% of available homes on the U.S. market.
However, this is offset by the fact that women are buying these homes at a much higher rate than are single men, who have the capability of purchasing well above 50% of those same homes. In 2017, a full 18% of all home buyers were comprised of single women, according to statistics provided by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
By contrast, single men only purchased homes at a rate of 7% in 2017. This same trend has continued for the last three years consecutively, and it represents an 11% increase since the year 1981. Reasons for the increased visibility of single women in the home buyer market are attributed to rising incomes, the desire for personal satisfaction, and deferred marriages, and it seems likely that this trend will continue.
Why Single Women are Buying More Homes
Many realtors around the country have already found that the statistics made available by the NAR are running true in their own locations around the country. For instance, in Waltham Massachusetts, Shant Banosian is a branch manager with a company called Guaranteed Rate, and he completely concurs with the NAR statistics in saying that the second biggest grouping of homebuyers in his experience is single women.
In the Waltham area, about 20% of all new homebuyers are single women, partly due to the fact that a significant number of them are earning incomes over six digits. These career-minded women have long since figured out that it makes much more financial sense to purchase a quality home than to throw money away on expensive rentals in the area.
However, this is not the only demographic within the single women category which are interested in becoming homebuyers. In Gig Harbor, Washington for instance, realtor Drew Kellerman from Phase 2 Wealth Advisors recounts how a number of very successful retired elderly women, aged 60 and above, are frequently contacting his agency to consult about the best ways to purchase new homes. In many cases, these successful women are looking to purchase smaller new homes, for the purpose of downsizing after the death of a spouse, or possibly after a recent divorce.
In New York City, agent Maria Daou relates how, in her own experience one of the big driving forces for single women is parenthood itself. She has discovered that many women have chosen to remain single, while still desiring to provide a stable home environment to raise their children in. Statistics show that more than 50% of unmarried parents in 2017 were comprised of single women, and this is a driving factor in the desire for new homebuyers in that category.
Even though their numbers are increasing, and the path to home ownership is becoming less problematic for single women, there are still often some major obstacles which must be overcome. For one thing, there’s a certain stigma attached to being a single woman with children, and owning a home. In situations where a community Co-Op Board has the power to veto a buyer’s request, single mothers are sometimes disapproved, due to this long-standing stigma.
In some cases, it can also be difficult for a single woman to save up money for significant down payments, which can climb as high as 20% of the home’s cost. This is more likely to occur in locations where housing is very expensive, for instance Boston or San Francisco, and in such situations, it can literally take several decades to accumulate the needed down payment money. Despite these obstacles however, as noted above, statistics show that single females are continuing to overcome problems, and take their place as legitimate homeowners.
Factors Important to Single Female Buyers
There are of course, a number of aspects about homebuying which appeal equally to males and females, those being square footage, location, and value, but there are also a few factors which have greater appeal to single female buyers. One of these factors is the increased emphasis on safety, and on the security of the surrounding community.
This prompts some buyers to seek out condominiums rather than isolated homes, simply for the sense of security and community provided by the condominium. Condos are also easier to maintain, so that adds a certain appeal as well, but the real appeal to most single female buyers is the community aspect. It’s also more important to single women to find a good dwelling where everything is close by, and stores, parks, schools, and entertainment are all near the home, so that the friendly confines of the community are always available.
Financing for Single Women Buyers
Most single female buyers are very careful about overextending themselves, in terms of a mortgage and a long-term commitment to buying a home. Since they obviously lack a second income from a spouse, budgeting becomes an area of concern and very close scrutiny. There are of course, the related expenses of maintenance, insurance, property taxes, and any needed repairs, so these are all carefully considered as well by female buyers.
For this reason, many women attempt to use multiple resources of income if available, so that regular cash flow is not disturbed, and no financial crisis is brought on. The good thing is that despite all the challenges faced by single women homebuyers in this country today, a growing number of them have found a way to make it all work, and to live in homes of their choosing. It amounts to significant departure from the American Dream of long ago, but it’s one which is now occurring much more frequently than ever before.