Since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) began tracking data in 1981, women have consistently ranked second only to married couples in the home-buying market. This is a significant fact because prior to 1974, women were legally prohibited from obtaining a mortgage without a co-signer. Widows, in particular, often needed a male relative to co-sign due to widespread lending discrimination based on gender. Federal law offered no recourse for women at the time.
In 1981, married couples accounted for 73% of home buyers, with single women and single men making up 11% and 10%, respectively. Today, the percentage of married couples has decreased to 61%, while the percentage of single women has increased to 17%, and that of single men has remained at 9%. The highest percentage of single women buyers was in 2006 when it reached 22%. From 2016 to 2022, the percentage of single women ranged from 17% to 19%. In 2010, the percentage of single men hit a peak at 12% but has since remained between 7% and 9%.
In recent times, the increase in single women homebuyers has often been attributed to the declining percentage of married Americans. According to Census data, the proportion of unmarried Americans aged 15 and above was 23% in 1950, but in 2022, it rose to 34%. This implies that there are now 37.9 million one-person households in the US, which accounts for 29% of all households.
However, the question remains: why are women buying homes at a higher rate than men? The answer may lie in the household composition of the buyers. Both men and women cite homeownership as their main motivation for purchasing a home, but women are more likely to buy a home near their friends and family. Women are also more likely to make a purchase due to changes in their family situation, such as a divorce, death, or the birth of a child. While data on a buyer’s current marital status is collected, information on whether the buyer was previously married and is now widowed or divorced is not. Nevertheless, in both scenarios, women may value proximity to their social support networks, including friends and family.
To read the article from NAR, click here