Single women have come a long way in the professional world and in homeownership. Even though home buying decreased during the recession, the ratio of single women to single men buyers has remained constant since the late 1990s, according to Walter Maloney spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
He says that about one in five homeowners are single females, which makes them the second-largest home buying demographic after married couples.
More women are single
With the combination of women who delay marriage and the increasing divorce rates, the pool of single women homebuyers keeps growing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age of first marriage for women has increased 20 percent since 1980, because more young women are pursuing education and careers before getting married. In fact, fifty-three percent of single adults were women in 2011. More single women have taken charge of their own finances and they realize the long-term value of buying a home over renting one. A report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University states, “The economic upside of owning only enhances the view that marriage is no longer a prerequisite to buying a home.”
Barriers were broken
Prior to the 1970s, it was extremely difficult for women to get credit. The equal credit opportunity act of 1974 changed the lending game. The Act required lenders to make credit available regardless of sex or marital status. Steve Melman, Director of Economic Services for the National Association of Homebuilders said, “Once upon a time, you could market a home only to a family. Only the husband’s income even counted.” Today, homebuilders actively target single females. He said, “Just think of how far we’ve come in 40 years.”
The increase in single women homeowners can be attributed as much to changing economics as it can to social progress. Besides, no one can buy a home unless they can afford one. Compared to 54 percent today, women were 41 percent of college graduates 30 years ago, according to Peter Francese, founder of American Demographics Magazine. He also said that women’s aggregate income increased 10 percent, and that women now hold 52 percent of white-collar jobs, which makes it easier for them to purchase homes. Meanwhile, men’s wages remain the same.
More women rule the roost
The primary reason for single women to own a home is that they’re more likely to live with children. Francese said that women are the main breadwinners in 60 percent of unmarried households. NAR’s Molony added that the median age of single female homeowners in 2011 was 48, which included divorced moms with assets from a previous home. He says that approximately 50 percent of single women homeowners are repeat buyers. Francese also said that two thirds of the female baby boomers are grandmothers and will buy homes near their grandchildren.
Francese said, “With very, very few exceptions, the female of every species makes the nest. It’s a very successful survival strategy.” Women have a penchant for economic stability and spend 18 years of their life sheltering their children in their homes. With the exception of an occasional man cave, women make the majority of the home decisions.