We’ve come a long way, ladies. Throughout history, women have faced all kinds of outright financial discrimination, and some of that history isn’t so distant. It wasn’t until 1974, with the passing of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, that it became illegal to refuse a woman a credit card if she didn’t have a male cosigner.
But now, it seems, women are starting to catch up to and even outpace men in some areas.
According to its 2018 report “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends,” the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found that single women account for the second-largest group of home buyers, behind married couples.
Single women made up 18% of home buyers in 2017. Within individual age groups, they saw a higher share among older age groups, with single women making up 25% of the 72- to 92-year-old group, versus only 12% of those 37 and younger.
Single women seem to be far more enthusiastic about homeownership than single men, who only made up 7% of home buyers. This isn’t a new trend. Single women have been buying homes at almost twice the rate of single men since the mid-1990s. The question is, why?
There’s not really a concrete explanation for why such a wide gap exists between men and women or why men don’t seem to be as interested in participating in the housing market. NAR’s 2017 “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers” survey credits better job prospects, higher incomes and improving credit conditions as reasons for why more women are purchasing real estate.
It may be that female buyers are more likely to see purchasing a home as an investment, according to the Washington Post. Women are also more likely to have children younger than 18 in their households, which could be a motivating factor.
Men, alternatively, may be less concerned about settling down in a permanent residence or more worried about a potential job transfer.
The Washington Post article also cited a study from Builders Digital Experience, a research and publishing firm, that found that single women were more likely to name rising rents as motivation for buying a home.
The 2018 NAR survey doesn’t specify why single women in particular are purchasing more real estate, but general trends suggest that it’s more for emotional, rather than financial, reasons – 30% of buyers overall stated that their primary reason for purchasing was a desire to own a home of their own. This was especially true for those 37 years old and younger, 48% of which listed this as their primary reason for buying a home. The next most popular reasons were a desire for a larger home, a job-related relocation or move, a desire to be closer to family and friends, or a change in family situation (such as marriage, divorce or the birth of a child).
NAR’s annual “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers” has noted this trend for the past few years. In a press release about its 2016 report, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said that despite earning a much lower average income, single female buyers accounted for double the amount of home buyers as single men.
“Single women for years have indicated a strong desire to own a home of their own, as well as an inclination to live closer to friends and family. With job growth holding steady and credit conditions becoming somewhat less stringent than in past years, the willingness and opportunity to buy is becoming more feasible for many single women,” Yun said.
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