Right after she turned 30, public relations pro Wendy Hsiao put in an offer on a cute brick townhouse in Atlanta. ‚ÄúFor a lot of my friends, being an adult started either when you got married or had a baby,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI chose to buy a house.‚ÄĚ
Why did she buy? She felt ready for a major life change, considered buying to be a smart financial decision and wanted a yard for her Pomeranian named Georgia. ‚ÄúI felt like it was time to make a place my home,‚ÄĚ Hsiao said.
Her story is one example of a growing trend: the rise of single female homeownership. Single women are far more likely to become homeowners than single men, according to a study on singles owning homes by LendingTree, which owns MagnifyMoney. In fact, single women own 22% of homes on average, while single men own less than 13%.
This ‚Äúgender gap‚ÄĚ stems partly from the fact that single women prioritize homeownership when setting life goals. In fact, 73% of single women list owning a home as a top priority compared with 65% of single men, according to the 2018 Homebuyer Insights Report from Bank of America.
Single women are ‚Äúskipping the spouse and buying the house,‚ÄĚ according to the Bank of America report, which found that single women rank homeownership as a goal above getting married (41%) and having children (31%).
While there‚Äôs still work to be done, women have taken huge steps toward professional and financial independence. Homeownership in particular contributes to economic stability, so it‚Äôs great that more single women are buying homes. There‚Äôs no doubt the increase in the number of women in the U.S. workforce, a figure that has more than doubled since 1975, has contributed to the trend. Here are some other driving forces behind the rise of single female homeownership:
Homeownership empowers women. Homeownership offers a place to live, stability and a way to build wealth, so it‚Äôs no surprise women view owning a home as empowering. In fact, 31% of single women (vs. 23% of single men) feel empowered when thinking about buying their first home. A licensed real estate agent in Chicago, Martina Smith bought a condo in her dream neighborhood of Streeterville after she broke off an engagement a few years ago. Her budget only allowed her to buy a ‚Äúfixer-upper,‚ÄĚ but she got a great deal and renovated her place. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been very rewarding and empowering,‚ÄĚ she said. And she thinks it reflects a bigger national trend. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre seeing more women taking charge,‚ÄĚ Smith said.
Women are becoming more educated. Over the past few decades, women have become more educated than men. In 2017, 38% of women and 33% of men ages 25 to 64 had a bachelor‚Äôs degree. In that age group, 14% of women and 12% of men had an advanced degree. And women are putting off marriage to pursue that education, according to the 2018 Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem report. Educational attainment has a positive impact on homeownership rates.
Women are done waiting to marry. There‚Äôs been a cultural shift where women no longer feel they need to wait until they pair up to embark on certain aspects of ‚Äúadulting,‚ÄĚ said Kelley Long, a CPA and certified financial planner with Financial Finesse. ‚ÄúI will never forget a friend‚Äôs dad chastising me for doing ‚Äėnesting‚Äô things like buying nice furniture before I was married because of his perception that you just don‚Äôt do things like that until you‚Äôre married,‚ÄĚ Long said, adding that women are ‚Äúrejecting that idea because it‚Äôs not true.‚ÄĚ If you want to marry in the future, the right partner will likely be impressed that you were financially secure enough to buy a home on your own, she said.
Single moms want a home base to raise kids. ‚ÄúOftentimes, when people buy homes it‚Äôs for lifestyles reasons,‚ÄĚ said Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist for LendingTree. Getting married is one big reason, but having children is the other, he said. About 21% of U.S. kids live with single moms, a number that has almost doubled since 1968. In contrast, just 4% of kids live with single dads. ‚ÄúChildren prompt people to buy homes,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúSo that might be one of the factors at play.‚ÄĚ And it‚Äôs not just kids. As many as eight in 10 caregivers for elderly parents are women. The median age of a single female buyer is mid-50s, points out Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights for the National Association of REALTORS. A single female homebuyer ‚Äúmay be coming from a past relationship and purchasing a new home for herself, her children and her parents,‚ÄĚ Lautz said, adding that single females are ‚Äúwilling to make sacrifices‚ÄĚ to purchase a home.
So what does the future hold for single women owning homes? If marriage rates among all U.S. adults continue to drop, it‚Äôs likely the number of single women purchasing homes will rise even more, Lautz said.
Strict lending standards can make it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage on a single income. Considering women also only make 80% of what their male colleagues earn, getting to a financially secure enough position to afford homeownership may feel daunting. Here are three tips for single women looking to buy a home of their own:
Finally, it‚Äôs normal to feel stressed when you think of buying a home. In fact, more women (40%) than men (30%) feel overwhelmed by the idea of homeownership. But even though the homebuying process was scary, Hsiao said she has zero regret about buying a home of her own: ‚ÄúIf you love the house, it‚Äôs 100% worth it.‚ÄĚ