Thanks to their incomes rising higher than the those of single men and a strong desire for community, the single female homebuyer is poised to make a comeback in 2016.
I helped Jenna Jernegan, a millennial and longtime North End resident, purchase her very first condominium on Henchman Street in the North End Waterfront. Jenna’s long search shed light on the reality of the single female homebuyer: “I have been pinching my pennies for a very long time and have sacrificed many, MANY vacations, shopping sprees, other fun things so that I could one day find/afford a place this special,” wrote Jenna, “It was well worth the struggle.” Jenna’s mother, Linda Jernegan, who accompanied Jenna to this open house, and many others, wrote, “We both knew this was the perfect place for her. With all the interest in the property, I was so concerned that this would be another disappointment for her.” Rather than disappointment, Jernegan landed in her dream condo.
Up until the housing crisis, single women in the U.S. bought houses more often than their single male counterparts. But after the housing crisis, lenders made it harder to qualify for mortgages. The percentage of single female homebuyers dropped from 21% to 15% in 2009. In 2016, that share is poised to make a comeback, reported Bloomberg.
The majority of respondents to a prospective homebuyer survey have been women—this according to more than 17,000 surveys completed on its website since 2012.
The data in the above chart don’t tell us if respondents are single or married. Paired with Census data showing rising incomes for single women, the case gets more convincing. The chart below shows the 10 U.S. cities where the share of women earning more than $100,000 increased the most from 2012 to 2014.
Bloomberg compiled a few data points to reach this conclusion, but the most important factor is income. Single women are earning more money. In cities like Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and San Diego, there’s been a significant rise in the share of women earning more than $100,000 over the past three years. That hasn’t necessarily been true for men, whose share making over $100,000 decreased in Boston, Seattle, and San Diego, for comparison.
Rising incomes may be especially important because single female homebuyers have traditionally stretched their budgets to buy homes, said Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research for the National Association of Realtors. Many of them are single mothers or widows, said Lautz: “They are making sacrifices financially because they have a really strong desire to be a part of a community.” These women raking in the big bucks will be more likely to enter the housing market on their own terms, without having to make the same sacrifices required by other traditional single female homebuyers referenced by Lautz.