Single Women Homebuyers are increasing in today’s market

April 19, 2010 | 2 Comments

By Jessica Lautz, Research Economist came out with this interesting article about single women becoming a significant factor in today’s homebuying process.

In the summer of 2009, NAR Research surveyed recent home buyers about their experience with the home search process, and the use of real estate professionals in purchasing a home. The results of the survey were published in the 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Results of that survey show that a significant share of home buyers are single women. Indeed, the percentage of single-women buyers has increased from 14 percent in 1995 to 21 percent in 2009. These home purchasers account for the second largest share of adult households who purchase homes. Single females make up one-quarter of the first-time buyer population and 17 percent of the repeat buyer population. We look at some results below from the most recent Profile to get a better description of who single women buyers are.

Single Female Home Buyers

The median age of all home buyers was 39 years old, compared to 41 for single female buyers. Among single-female buyers, 58 percent were first-time home buyers in 2009, compared to 47 percent of all home buyers. The median household income for single-women home buyers was lower than that of all other homebuyer household types. Single females reported a median household income of $47,900 in 2008 compared to $73,100 among all home buying households. This difference in household income should not be completely surprising as 68 percent of home buying households are couples – and so perhaps likely to have two income earners. The difference in median income for single women households compared to those for single men is less striking—single men typically made $53,700 in 2008. Additionally, single women households are less likely to have children living at home than couples. Results from the survey show that 22 percent of single women home buyers have children at home, while 38 percent of all home buyers have children at home.

What They Buy

While the majority of single female buyers purchase a single-family home, single female households are more likely than other household types to purchase an apartment/condominium or a townhouse/rowhouse. One in four single female buyers purchase a house in an urban area/central city, which is a higher percentage compared to all other household compositions except single males. Still, the majority of single female home buyers purchase a home in the suburbs, similar to all buyers. Single female buyers are more likely to purchase an existing home than are other buyers. This makes the role of a real estate professional even more important to single female buyers. Only 14 percent of single female buyers purchased a new home compared to 18 percent of all buyers. Single female buyers also tend to purchase smaller homes, typically buying homes that are 1,480 square feet in size compared to the median size of 1,800 square feet purchased among all buyers. Once single females found the home they purchased, they expect to live there for 10 years.

Why They Buy

More than one-third of all home buyers buy a home for the desire to own. This has been the most cited reason consistently for the last several years, but it is even more true of single female buyers. Nearly half of single female buyers purchase a home because they have a desire to own a home. The second most cited reason for single female buyers in choosing to purchase a home is a change in family situation—13 percent of single female buyers purchase for this reason, compared to 9 percent of all buyers.

In comparison to other household types, single female buyers are more likely to have lived with parents, relatives or friends before buying their own residence, 20 percent compared to 12 percent of all buyers. Single female buyers are also more likely to rent an apartment or house before buying their own place compared to all buyers. Both previous living situations are related to the large share of single female buyers being first-time buyers.

Real Estate Professionals and the Home Search

When single female buyers first start to look for a home they contacted a real estate agent, contacted a mortgage broker or talked with a friend or relative more frequently than did other buyers. While 87 percent of single females use the Internet in their home search, a slightly larger percentage – 89 percent — use a real estate agent. Real estate agents are a trusted resource that single female buyers turn to during their home search. A larger share of single female home buyers first find the home they purchased from their agent compared to all buyers – 40 percent vs. 36 percent, respectively. Underscoring the importance of the real estate agent to single women buyers is the fact that a higher share of single females purchased their home through a real estate agent than through any other source: 79 percent compared to 77 percent of all buyers.

Single women buyers, like all other buyers, most want their agent to help them find the right home to purchase, but they place more importance than other buyers on their agent helping them negotiate the terms of sale. Similar to all buyers, single women place a high importance on honesty and integrity in their agent and knowledge of the purchase process.

Home Financing

Single female buyers are similar to all buyers when it comes to financing their home purchase. However, there are some differences. Similar to all buyers, about nine in ten finance their home purchase through a mortgage, and the majority use savings as the source of their down payment. A higher share of single female buyers receive a gift from a friend or relative as a down payment source compared to other buyers, and a smaller share use proceeds from the sale of their primary residence.

Despite record high housing affordability conditions, buyers are still making sacrifices to purchase homes and this is also the case for female home buyers. Single females are more likely than other buyers to have cut spending on luxury items, entertainment, and clothes in order to be able to purchase a home. Nearly nine in ten single females believe their home was a good financial investment.

What it Means for Real Estate Professionals

Single women are likely to continue to be a significant segment of home buyers. By utilizing the information above as a helpful tool, as well as other information found in the 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, real estate professionals may be able to understand and serve their clients better. This diligence will be rewarded: single females are more likely than other buyers to turn to real estate agents first and stay with the real estate agent throughout the purchasing process.



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