Right now, one of the up and coming buying groups in the U.S. is indisputably women, particularly single women. They may not have the highest collective earning power, but they have repeatedly demonstrated the motivation and determination to turn their homeownership dreams into reality. Accordingly, 73% of women say that owning a home is a top priority for them. This number outpaces getting married (41%) or having children (31%).
- Women Outpacing Men
While married couples continue to dominate the real estate market, single women are making the important gains that demand attention. Recent data from all regions of the country show that women are not just active participants in the process but are the dominant group of homebuyers when compared to single men. And it’s not even close.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as homebuyers in 2020 single women comprised 19% of the overall first-time buyer population and 17% of repeat homebuyers. Contrast that to single men who accounted for just 11% of first-time homebuyers and 9% of repeat buyers.
- History of Women and Homebuying
It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that women began considering homeownership on a mass scale. Even then, they were often met with fierce resistance—however subtle and unspoken—from many real estate agents and mortgage providers.
Originally passed in 1968, and amended in 1974 to specifically include women, the Fair Housing Act was designed to prohibit discrimination of all kinds in the housing sector. The letter of the law was not adhered to when it came time to truly embrace women and minorities as home buyers.
To the continuing dismay of many, women still only make eighty-two cents for every dollar that their male colleagues earn. Despite this, single women have overtaken single men as a force in the housing market. Women began earning college degrees in greater numbers, raised their income levels and got smart about credit and credit rating.
- Women as the head of household
While it is true that women earn less on average than their male counterparts, women are earning more than they ever have historically and many proudly consider themselves financially autonomous. This is key. Single women have also emerged as excellent custodians of credit with higher credit scores and lower DTI (debt-to-income ratio) when compared to single men and they also default on loans less frequently than single men. Women are increasingly emerging as heads of household, meaning that they are the chief bread winner regardless of whether they are single, married or simply living as a couple under one roof. In 1990, only about one-third of all households were headed by women but by 2019 that figure stood just below 50%. Heads of households are typically granted the necessary agency to make decisions. And no decision is bigger than leading the charge when it comes to a home purchase.