Single women are claiming the coveted title of homeowner in higher numbers compared to their single male counterparts, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Even though the proportion of single female homebuyers declined somewhat after mortgages became harder to obtain because of the housing crisis nearly a decade ago, the pendulum is swinging in their favor yet again.
The percentage of single women who bought homes in 2015 was 15%, compared to 9% for single men. The largest proportion of buyers were married couples, who made up 67% of the home buying market in 2015.
So what’s behind the drive for more single women making real estate purchases compared to single men?
Perhaps the biggest factor behind a larger chunk of the home buying market going to single women than single men is income. Single women are making more money these days. Over the past few years, it’s becoming more and more common for women in big cities like San Francisco and San Diego to earn over $100,000. In the meantime, men aren’t realizing the same rate of wage increases. In fact, the proportion of men who make more than $100,000 dropped in these same two cities, according to a report from Bloomberg.
A boost in income is a key factor because single women traditionally have had to make major sacrifices and stretch their dollar to make a home purchase. Many of them were typically widows or single mothers who simply did not have the financial means to make the purchase sooner rather than later.
However, the average salary for a woman in the U.S. still lags behind a man’s. Women earn 82¢ for each dollar a man makes one year after graduating college or university, according to the American Association of University Women. Yet despite a lower pay, women are more responsible when it comes to handling their credit compared to men, who are 7% more likely to be late on mortgage payments, and have 4.3% more debt than women.
Buying Within Same Price Ranges as Investors
Aside from an increase in wages for many single female homebuyers, the actual price range within which they are buying is often the same as where real estate investors are focusing. Investors who are looking for properties to purchase as a means to rent them out have had a weaker impact in many real estate markets in 2015 compared to the recent past. If the role of these investors continues to dwindle, this could make homeownership more affordable for single women.
Statistically, married couples take the biggest chunk of the homeownership realm, but single women are certainly increasing their piece of the pie. More and more women are putting marriage off until they successfully complete college and get their careers off to a strong start. These days, it’s more common for women to wait until their 30s before getting married. In the meantime, they’re less willing to wait until their marital status changes before becoming homeowners.
In addition, older women who are either widowed or divorced are more likely than men in the same position to make a home purchase. Many of those in the older group may be downsizing or moving to homes that require a lot less maintenance, while the same isn’t as prominent among the older single male demographic. These days, women appear to be more confident to mull over the possibilities of buying a home.
The Bottom Line
A few decades ago, it was uncommon for single women to buy a home on their own. Women could barely even get their own credit card without the signature of a husband or father, let alone get approved for a mortgage before the 1970s. But today, a lot has changed. Not only are more and more single women buying homes on their own, they’re doing so at a rate surpassing single men.