Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Single Girl Power Growing Influence in Real Estate

Ladies, take note, you've begun taking a larger role in the area of homeownership over the last few years, according to a new study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

"Not only are unmarried women a large segment of the home buying population," says Rachel Bogardus Drew, the author of the report, "but they are fast-growing, too, increasing their share of home buyers by 50 percent in eight years. The value of their home purchases over a 3-plus year period totaled more than $550 billion ... ."

The study is as much a report on the sociological changes in our country as on the buying practices of women. The continued breakdown of the family has pushed women to start fending for themselves, financially, instead of waiting for the combination of salaries with a mate to purchase a home.

"Two out of three female buyers were previously married, though that share drops significantly for younger buyers," Ms. Drew points out. "They also have lower incomes than unmarried men and married home buyers, but are less apt to finance their home purchase."

Still, the overwhelming buying segment is made up of married couples at 63 percent, but now unmarried women are the second highest buying group (at least when looking at marital status) at 20 percent in the last three years. Unmarried men make up 17 percent of the buying pool.

The demographics paint an admirable picture of the group, being older than their unmarried male counterparts, and facing many obstacles, demonstrating their determination to get in the real estate ownership circle. They also have lower incomes and many of them are buying with children in tow (30 percent).

Financially, they've demonstrated that even with lower incomes, homeownership is available. At $37,000, their median income is 11 percent less than single men, but account for why they are less likely than married couples to live in single family homes -- however, the majority of them were move up buyers in the last three years. They are plodding along with wealth growth, taking a patient path to building their net worth by buying low, selling when the market grows and moving into a larger, more expensive dwelling.

The growth of this demographic has not gone unnoticed, as both for-profit and not-for-profit entities have begun initiatives to help women in their quest for homeownership. One of the groups was the Women's Mortgage Industry Network (WMIN), which was launched four years ago and is sponsored by Freddie Mac. The group's goals include engaging "the mortgage industry and non-financial service providers in a targeted education and counseling campaign that it believes will help close the gap in homeownership rates," according to information from www.FreddieMac.com.

One of the most interesting points of this report was one of the buying options Ms. Drew uncovered in her report of single women, purchasing in a co-housing community.
"Co-housing communities, though relatively small in number -- about 50 in the U.S. -- are an attractive choice for women who want the privacy of their own home with the benefit of a supportive, surrounding community. These communities typically consist of 12 to 42 self-sufficient private dwelling units, but also include a common kitchen/dining space where meals are shared as well as communal outdoor space. Other arrangements help to pair single mothers looking for a shared living situation," she writes.

"By pooling incomes single mothers can often afford to buy a more desirable home, and by living together they can share household tasks and childcare, which can free up valuable time. Living with someone can also provide critical emotional support and help make single parenting less exhausting and lonely."

Obviously, this is a growing segment of the real estate industry and will continue it's upward trend with the aging of the baby boom generation and the natural selection of women living an average seven years longer than men.

Published: August 18, 2006

No comments: