For women, a home of one’s own
March 28, 2017
Single women are way ahead of men on homebuying.
While 66 percent of US homebuyers are married couples, in 2016, 17 percent were single women, while only 7 percent were single men — even though men on average still make more money. Women were staking an even bigger claim before the housing crisis: in 2009, a whopping 21 percent of homebuyers were single females. Indeed, single women have been outpacing their male counterparts for at least 30 years. But the gap keeps widening.
Too bad Virginia Woolf isn’t here to see this. Her 1929 book-length essay A Room of One’s Own declared that a woman needs money and privacy to write fiction. Women find those things essential for authoring their own lives as well. Economic parity may still elude them, but at least more women have privacy covered. Or queen of the castle, anyway … (some “singles” share space with kids or partners).
What's going on?
Here are some of the demographics driving this trend:
- Female buyers tend to be willing to stretch their budgets to buy (there’s a 27 percent gender wage gap)
- There’s a growing number of high-earning women with plenty of budget
- There are more unmarried women in the population than ever
- The average age of women’s first marriage is going up
- Many women anticipate that they’ll be unmarried longer and decide not to wait on homeownership
- More young women than men shun living with their parents, forming their own households instead
- There’s a growing number of divorced women with equity from a previous home to put into their own place
- Even within married couples, more women are identifying themselves as the homeowner
Here at Framework, we don’t have to look far to see independent female homebuyers in action. In this series of posts, you’ll meet Holly and Laura, a couple of female Framework team members who recently bought their own homes. (Guys: feeling left out? Here’s an inspiring single-guy-buyer story for you.)
Holly, VP of brand marketing, homeowner since 2016
A big, old house in Springfield, MA, with “room to grow.”
The decision: “Bottom line, I was doing it for me”
“I decided to buy my first home after a ten-year relationship ended, and with it my relationship with a home I had loved that felt like my own but wasn't. After divorce, I recognized the need to start building my own wealth and financial security, and homeownership seemed like the smart place to begin to do just that.
“I also hated having to rent. The insecurity I felt during my time as a renter was humbling, living at the whim of a landlord and without agency to plan for the long term. It felt awful.
“I've always been someone who operates with more discipline when there's something to be responsible for. With my daughter grown, I could have continued living ‘frivolously’ and not preparing for my own future. Now I have to be responsible for my house. I’ve started saving much more aggressively, living on a budget ... imagine!
“I didn't at any point feel that my single status was limiting, although it was at times vexing for others. No one in my life questioned my decision to buy on my own, but everyone questioned my decision to buy what I bought — a big house in a city with a bad reputation. Everyone was suggesting ‘a small house’ or ‘a cute condo,’ and I had to resist this constant pushback. But it was really empowering because I knew why I was doing it, I had the information I needed, and, bottom line, I was doing it for me.
“Here's the thing: I may be single, but I have a big life and a vision for my future that definitely does not include living in a small condo! I want room to grow: for a home office, Airbnb possibilities, grandchildren, aging parents. I love my house. I haven’t once regretted my decision and feel such a warm embrace by this big old house every day.”
“I've achieved a lot in my lifetime, but homeownership was always a big, scary unknown, something other people did. So in my case the confidence to buy came from just knowing how it worked. My role with Framework has provided a lot of learning about the process of buying a home — I'm not just saying that — but perhaps more importantly about the power of homeownership. The biggest shift for me has been the recognition that housing security is the framework for financial security and personal well-being in so many regards.”