Buying & Selling

Single Women Buyers Are Reshaping the Real Estate Market

Homebuyer demographics constantly evolve, but one thing has become clear with time: Single women (and women in general) are increasingly taking the lead over other buyers. Single women homeowners now outnumber single men homeowners by about 2.71 million, and the gap seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.

Why is this so significant? Well, up until 1974, most women struggled to get any kind of credit in their own names, whether that was a car loan or even a department store credit card – let alone a mortgage. It wasn’t until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) was passed that women stopped facing blatant lending discrimination that often required them to find a male co-signer somewhere before they could buy a car, home or anything else that required a loan.

Another remarkable aspect of the trend is the fact that women still only earn 83 cents on the dollar compared to men’s wages. This means that most women have fewer financial resources than most men, but they’re choosing to funnel what they have into real estate purchases more often.

Women Aren’t Just Buying Homes, They’re Leading Households

There’s another interesting shift in household demographics around the United States. Back in 1990, women were the heads of less than a third of all U.S. households. By 2021, 51% of all households in this country – including 43% of those involving married couples – are led by women. 

When looking deeper into that particular trend, researchers discovered that one in three women who could have purchased homes with their partners went solo on the mortgage application simply because they had better credit or more financial resources. 

That indicates that women, by and large, are increasingly financially savvy and credit conscious. Many are meticulously saving and strategizing to enter the housing market by leveraging tools like down payment assistance programs and low-interest mortgages and using them to their advantage. Moreover, women are shrewd investors, recognizing the long-term wealth-building potential of homeownership and seizing opportunities to build their assets and increase their net worth.

The Motivations of Single Women Buyers Are Different

People buy homes for all kinds of reasons, but the statistics hint at different motivations between single women and single men when they buy a home. Men and women both share the broad desire to own a home, but single men are more likely to purchase a home of their own in anticipation of marriage, after a divorce or when they are widowed. 

In comparison, women are less likely to be motivated to buy homes because of changes in their family situations, but they’re twice as likely to buy a home so they can put down roots near their social support groups, like their close friends and immediate family members.

In general, women homebuyers seem to be seeking:

  • Independence: Both genders tend to view homeownership as the culmination of the “American Dream.” Owning a home has long been a symbol of empowerment. For women, homeownership may also be a sign of personal independence and autonomy, something that women were long denied.
  • Financial security: Women are increasingly prioritizing their financial security over other things, and homeownership is a means of building equity and long-term wealth. It’s also an asset that they can pass on to their children, which helps build generational wealth for the future.
  • Stability: For women – particularly single mothers – owning a home can offer a sense of stability for themselves and their children. A fixed location means they can develop a strong social network without fear that rising rents will force them to relocate. When they own the home they live in, they also don’t have to worry about being stuck in an unhappy living situation with a bad partner.
  • Resources: A home is, ultimately, a resource. A home of their own gives single women the flexibility to house their young adult children who have returned to the nest during troubled economic times or those who have elderly parents who can no longer live alone.

In short, single women are generally looking for a home, not just a place to live. While that may also be true of many single men, women put a stronger emphasis on buying property to find, stay within or build a community.

If You’re a Single Woman Buying A Home, What Do You Need to Remember?

Every situation is unique, but you can at least rest assured that the law protects you from housing and mortgage discrimination based on your gender and familial status, thanks to the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Even so, here are some tips that can help you on your home-buying journey:

  1. Be very sure about your budget. With only one income, you must be especially careful to make sure that you don’t stretch your budget too thin. You need to be able to budget an extra 1%-4% of your home’s purchase price for annual upkeep on top of your mortgage and other expenses.
  2. Check your credit scores. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate – and the more friendly lenders will become. Well before you start to actively research mortgage options, start checking your FICO score at all three major credit bureaus and make sure that you address inaccuracies or problems.
  3. Look into all down payment options. Putting together the downpayment is the biggest obstacle to homeownership, as cited by 40% of people. Look into down payment assistance programs, FHA loans, VA loans and any other programs that you may qualify to use that can help you achieve your homeownership dream.
  4. Get a mortgage pre-approval. Pre-qualification is just a lender’s “best guess” about what you can afford, while a mortgage pre-approval is a tentative offer for a loan. That piece of paper gives you more confidence about what you can afford and makes you a more competitive bidder.

Single women buyers are, in a very real way, changing the face of homeownership – and that means they’re also reshaping housing trends and contributing to the economic growth and community identity of different areas – and F.C. Tucker Company is here to help you.