Any Millennial who grew up watching romantic comedies knows that the formula for the movie was girl meets guy, some sort of bet is involved, the girl is adorably clumsy and falls all the time, guy falls in love with her despite her questionable ability to walk in a straight line, and after clearing up some misunderstanding they finally get together and buy their dream house.
That’s great, right? Except why did she have to wait for the dude? In all these films the leading lady usually has some incredible job, whether it be cookie baker or international spy, that pays her gobs of money so she could definitely afford this. But there just seemed to be this rule that she wasn’t allowed to purchase the house without a partner.
But that was before Samantha Jones, Leslie Knope, and Dr. Mindy Lahiri (all single homeowners) came along. And I haven’t seen it yet, but I can bet you Barbie is going to have her very own dream house in her movie this summer (and do you really think Ken helped put the down payment on the mortgage? Not with that neon shorts collection he didn’t.)
That was also before the fact that in the last few years, more single (non-fictional) women have started buying more houses than single men. According to 2021 data from LendingTree, single women own roughly 10.7 million homes, compared to 8.1 million for single men. Florida, Delaware and Maryland are seeing this statistic the most with Florida leading the pack. Credello actually recently did their own survey on women and money and found that out of 600 women (ages 27 to 42) in the U.S., 70% of women reported having bought a home on their own.
Why are more single women buying houses?
So the question is why is this happening? Why not just a “ludicrously capacious” handbag? Well, besides the fact that sites like Street Easy and Zillow gave the world titillating real estate porn and all women have a little bit of Nancy Meyers in them and just want to have a glass of wine in their beautiful rustic beige farmhouse kitchen at the end of the day, women are ballers. Despite making 83 cents for every dollar a man earns, single women now own more homes than men in 48 states, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
CEO of the rent-reporting app Piñata, Lily Liu, told Business Insider “Women are currently earning more than they have, but still not as much as men. This increase in homeownership signals a level of longevity planning that women have. On a lower annual income than single men, it shows women have a better ability to save and think long-term.”
is the number of women who make up the Top 10% of top earners in the U.S. Among the top1%, women make up fewer than 17% of workers, and at the top 0.1% level, they make up only 11%.
Is the Pink Tax now a hurdle for houses?
The pay gap clearly isn’t stopping women from making serious investments, but what about the pink tax? Credello recently reported on a research study that revealed that single women pay 2% more than single men when buying homes and then they sell their homes for 2% less. This results in an extra cost of $24,000 for women in the home buying and selling process. Plus, women also pay on average 0.04% higher mortgage rates than men. However, if they equip themselves with the right research and strategize with market conditions, this doesn’t have to be a barrier. Credello’s survey found that a significant number of the respondents who purchased a home on their own reported that they feel they paid the same fees as men for those services.
Reasons women are buying more houses
OK so despite the gender pay gap and a possible pink real estate tax, women are investing in real estate. But what are some of the other reasons?
- Higher education and income: Women are earning more degrees than men at both the college and graduate school level and get higher-paying jobs. In 2021, 39% of women 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or more education, compared with 37% of men in the same age group.
- A house helps build wealth: In addition to houses or apartments appreciating in value over time, you also will pay down your mortgage which builds equity. When you build equity you can borrow against it, use it for another down payment or sell the house. Then there are the tax benefits and paying down the principal which also help increase your net worth.
- Delayed marriage and family: Women are getting married and starting families later in life than in the past but it doesn’t mean they have to pause their house journey early (and honestly it will be so much cleaner if it is just them.) This means they may be more established in their careers and financially ready to purchase a home on their own.
- Perception of homeownership: Women may view homeownership as a way to establish stability and security in their lives. A house is an asset and always looks good on you (unless you get the house from The Watcher.)
- Access to financing: Lenders are more willing to provide financing to single women than in the past, recognizing that they are a growing demographic in the home-buying market.
- Cultural shifts: Despite some annoying stereotyping, there is a growing cultural acceptance of single women purchasing homes on their own. If more women keep doing it, others will feel that they can also do it.
Real women buying houses on their own
Instead of just listing all the numbers and the reasons we went straight to the source: three women who have purchased a house or apartment solely in the last few years.
Dr. Pia Weston bought her first townhouse in Rockland County, NY
“At this point in my life, I felt ready to settle down. Rent prices continued to increase and when I really weighed my options, buying was fairly equal in price, but I would be investing in something that could be mine forever. This year, I also started working in private practice, so the extra income really did help financially.”
On investing for the future
“I do think that purchasing a home is a safe investment and something that will be beneficial for years to come. I invest in the market and have a retirement fund as well, but purchasing a home felt like a different and more significant investment. I have cut back financially to pay for the home (no more designer bags for the foreseeable future). It has been a very weighty investment. I did some light renovations before moving in and that took a significant chunk of my savings.”
On the responsibility of owning a home
“It’s definitely mixed emotions owning my own house. I feel empowered by the purchase and at the same time nervous that all things fall on me. There is a significant learning curve. I have never had to replace appliances or fix toilets, so I’m learning a lot. It has been hard for sure.”
On the actual buying of the home
“In terms of the price, I lucked out. I actually purchased the home from a fellow single woman. I was in a bidding war with eight other buyers, so I did have to submit an offer over asking. With my offer, I also wrote a letter about myself and what I hoped to achieve in the home. I did not have the highest bid, but the seller chose me for my letter. We have stayed in contact and I feel very grateful to have experienced such a positive buying experience.”
Jourdan Daleo bought her first home in Miami a few years ago
On the power of real estate
“Real estate is such a powerful asset over the long run – there may be short term volatility, but for a five to 10-year time horizon, there is a great deal of appreciation opportunity, not to mention tax benefits. And, it’s a massive opportunity to put monthly living payments into an owned asset, vs rent.”
“While I’d been saving towards purchasing a home, I didn’t have a set date to purchase in mind. I felt whiplash from renting (the owner of my apartment was considering a price hike, considering selling the apartment, considering a remodel… all things that affected my ability to live there). I started stalking housing apps and getting a feeling for what was out there. Soon, I was driving through new neighborhoods and getting a feeling for new areas – so when I found “the one,” I was quick to jump on it!”
“My monthly payments for housing go to my own asset instead of rent, which feels far better than “wasting” money. I’ve also been able to utilize the house as a financing asset, supporting refinancings. I saved ahead of time for my down payment, so I’ve been able to maintain a similar lifestyle pre and post home purchase.”
On owning her own house
“[It is] Empowering! I feel a great deal of independence, without dependency on anyone – my home is mine. The decisions, while sometimes beyond my previous comfort zone, are all mine, which is a continuous reminder that my living environment is within my control.”
On the actual purchasing of the house
“I had a great (female) agent that guided me through the process, helped answer my questions and coached me along the way. I made lists of questions as I had them and asked previous homebuyers in order to gain a variety of insights. For example, when my first inspection did not go according to plan, then what? Mortgage brokers… are they worth it? Homestead taxes – what are they? There was a lot I had not previously experienced – but plenty of people out there to ask to ensure I was informed every step of the way.”
Alix Hamilton bought her first apartment in New York City recently
“I do believe in having diversification of assets, but investing in real estate for me also has an emotional attachment as well as fiscal benefit. Growing up in Australia, we are organically taught that to own your own home is the dream you should pursue. Having invested in stocks over the last few years and building a healthy cash reserve, I felt confident in buying my apartment. I was also somewhat comforted in the knowledge that Manhattan real estate will generally hold its value over time.”
On the choice of investing in a house
“It was less about a safe investment choice (although I did feel my risk was mitigated buying in a known neighborhood of Manhattan vs an emerging area/city), but it was also the value of owning my own home, especially when rent prices were becoming particularly volatile. I liked the comfort of controlling my ongoing monthly expenses.”
On financial planning
“I was determined to only buy within my means and intentionally chose a place where my total repayments (mortgage & maintenance) would be less than 25% of my income. This did make my search much longer, but it also lowered a lot of stress at closing.”
On owning her own home
“I’m really happy and feel a real sense of accomplishment. Whilst I did have some help from a small inheritance for the down payment, I did this on my own and knowing that I go home to that every night, reinforces that sense of pride.”