Although married homebuyers still dominate the housing market, single women outnumber single men in the hunt for a home by a pretty big margin. Compare women’s 18% share of the homebuying market to just 9% of single men’s. Before the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974, a single woman was required to get a male co-signor for a mortgage application, no matter how much money she earned! Lenders could even discount her wages by up to 50% when determining the amount she could borrow. Thankfully, times have changed. The trend of single women homebuyers has been rising every year since the late 1980s. Today, female buyers have a diverse set of lifestyle needs that they feel are best fulfilled with homeownership. Here’s a look at their priorities.

Whether divorced, single mothers, single by choice, or widowed, women have a different set of priorities in their home search than single men. They put more weight into the community they choose rather than home size or specific features, emphasizing social opportunities, school systems, low-maintenance, and security. Single women also are more likely to choose a home that is amenable to caring for one or more children, an aging parent, and pets. And since they are doing so much on their own, they desire an area of convenience where grocery, gym, parks, and other frequented places are nearby.

Single women tend to buy more attached homes with a home owner’s association that takes care of lawns and snow removal. When available, they prefer gated access for added security. And they’re more likely to spend more for a smaller lot that has higher quality features or location.

In general, women are raised to avoid risk more than men. This is apparent in homeownership as women are less likely to overstretch their budget than men when choosing a home they can afford. Single women purchasing homes are at the lowest income level of all homebuyers, at an average annual salary of $65,000. According to the NAR (National Association of Realtors), single women make significant efforts to afford a home, including making major sacrifices on spending habits. They also have more willingness to buy starter homes than male counterparts.

Unfortunately, there are still disadvantages for female homeowners. A Yale study showed that women tend to buy homes at an average price of 2% higher than men and sell for 2% less. Reasons vary, but the study indicated that location, timing, pricing, and negotiating skills favored men.

Single women homebuyers come in all ages, with some of the biggest increases seen in those getting divorced over 50. When making a decision to purchase a home, single homebuyers need to do the same research on savings, home maintenance costs, and mortgage lending as any homebuyer does. They may need to remind themselves to keep their convictions on what is best for them and what they can personally achieve, and avoid the naysayers.

Real Estate Term of the Week

Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) A law that prohibits credit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because you get public assistance. Creditors may ask you for most of this information in certain situations, but they may not use it when deciding whether to give you credit or when setting the terms of your credit.

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