When the pandemic locked down the nation, Kristin Howard had lived in the same one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles for 16 years. Suddenly, her home became her office, and her space went from suitable to cramped.
So Howard decided to buy a place. After struggling to find a home in her price range in Los Angeles’ notoriously unaffordable housing market, Howard landed a single-family house for $760,000.
Howard made the purchase as a single woman, and soaring home prices made the process a challenge. “It was extremely stressful,” she says. “Everything is so expensive.”
By buying a home solo, Howard unknowingly joined a trend: Single women are a growing force in the housing market.
The National Association of Realtors says single women made up 19 percent of all homebuyers in 2021, a share that has been trending up since it hit a low point of 15 percent in 2014. Single men make up just 9 percent of buyers, while couples, both married and unmarried, do nearly 70 percent of deals.
A separate survey by Bank of America found a similar house-before-spouse trend: 65 percent of single female prospective homebuyers said they’d rather not wait for marriage to buy a home, and 30 percent of women who already own homes bought when they were single.
Time to ‘start my life’
Madison Fox, 22, joined the trend last year when she bought an 800-square-foot house in Bay City, Michigan. Fox is unmarried and works as a pharmacy technician, and she thinks of rent as a waste of money.
“I just wanted to get out of my parents house and start my life,” she says.
While Fox is getting started earlier than most, many single women are deciding not to find partners before becoming homeowners, says Lynn Toomey, founder of Her Retirement, a financial education company.
“Because people are delaying getting married until an older age, women aren’t waiting for the homeownership part of the traditional coupled-up decision to buy a home,” Toomey says.
What’s driving the trend
For single women homebuyers, financial stability is an important part of the calculus, says Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at the National Association of Realtors.
“Women have a very strong preference for homeownership,” Lautz says. “They think it’s a good financial investment. They also are willing to make financial sacrifices. They traditionally have a lower household income, and they’re willing to cut expenses in other areas of their life to achieve homeownership.”
In something of a paradox, single women make less money on average than single men but are more eager to buy homes, Lautz says. That could reflect the certainty …….