Are single female home buyers the key to the housing recovery?

Excited woman next to her laptop computer

Recent data confirms single women are choosing homeownership

As apartment rents continue to escalate across the country and mortgage rates remain tantalizingly low, more and more Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are choosing homeownership. However, unlike past housing recoveries, a closer look at recent housing data suggests that this housing recovery is largely being driven by women, particularly single women.

According to recent market surveys, more women than men think that buying a home is a sound financial investment, and more women than ever are making their own financial decisions. Let’s take a look at married women. The percentage of married women who are considered the key financial decision makers of their household has been growing for decades. According to a 2014 Ameriprise Financial study, 56% of married women share in the household financial decision-making, while a record 41% of married women make all of the household financial decisions alone. A 2011 Prudential Research Study went even further, reporting that a whopping 84% of married women are either solely or jointly responsible for all household financial decisions. Simply put, more married women are calling the shots than ever before, and more of them are choosing to buy a house instead of renting.

The emergence of the single female home buyer is perhaps the most interesting trend in the housing market. A single female is almost twice as likely to purchase a home than a single male. According to the National Association of Realtors, 16% of all home buyers are single females, while only 9% are single males. There are a variety of reasons for this wide gap. In addition to more women believing that homeownership makes good financial sense, experts note that the ranks of college educated females are outpacing those of their male counterparts, which is leading to greater upward financial mobility among women. Baby Boomers are also downsizing and relocating in large numbers, and women comprise a large segment of that demographic. Some researchers also suggest that women may identify more with establishing roots than men, and that homeownership is more of an intuitive choice for women than men.

The gap between male and female home buying preferences is even more striking amongst the fastest growing home buying demographic of them all—Hispanics. According to a recent 2015 study by Better Homes and Gardens and the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, 91% of Latino/Hispanic women believe that buying a home is the single best financial investment they can make, and 61% of them believe they will play a larger role in their next home purchase than their partner will. More Hispanic women also believe they control the household purse strings, as the survey reported that they control 69% of household purchase decisions over $100.

The impact of Hispanic females on the housing market shows no sign of abating. The 2015 Better Homes & Gardens survey also reported that more and more Hispanic families will be relocating in the coming years, as nearly half of those surveyed believe they will live in their current home for only five years or less.

Whether you’re a married woman or a single woman, here are some useful home buying tips:

Four Helpful Tips for Female Home Buyers:

  1. Start saving for a down payment. It’s the #1 barrier to homeownership for many home buyers. Start putting some money away and remember that you no longer have to put 20% down to get a mortgage—there are a number of mortgage loan programs that require as little as a 3% down payment with low interest rates.
  2. Get pre-approved by a mortgage lender, preferably at no cost to you. Let a mortgage lender review your credit report, income and employment history before you hire a real estate agent and start shopping for a home. In addition to finding out if there are any errors on your credit report, your lender will tell you how much house you can afford and provide you with a Pre-Approval Letter that will significantly increase your bargaining power.
  3. Hire a good real estate agent. Not only can a real estate agent prove to be invaluable in helping you sell your house, a good real estate agent can help you navigate the complicated sales process in the current seller’s market and prevent a lot of costly mistakes. Caveat emptor!
  4. Choose a mortgage lender who offers low closing costs. Too often, consumers get caught up in chasing the lowest interest rate in town. The problem? Mortgage lenders know this and price their loans accordingly with higher closing costs. Choose a lender who offers you a low interest rate and low closing costs. The best mortgage is not always the mortgage that’s 1/8% lower than the mortgage with the slightly higher rate but much lower closing costs.

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