Why More Single Women Are Becoming First-Time Home Buyers
What Do First-Time Single Women Buyers Want?
Record numbers of single women are becoming first-time home buyers. If you're a single woman who wants to buy a house, the good news is the market is wide open for you. The stats from the Joint Center for Housing Studies say:
- More than one in five home buyers is a single woman.
- Twice as many unmarried women are buying homes than single men.
- Single women make up more than one-third of the growth in real estate ownership since 1994.
Top 3 Reasons Unmarried/Single Women Buy a Home
- Strong desire to own her own home.
- Need more space or want a smaller home.
- Relocate closer to job, school or family.
Real Stories About First-Time Single Women Who Buy Real Homes
Single women home buyers come in all sizes, shapes, and ages. They are divorced, never married, separated, widowed; some have children, others live with friends or partners and many live alone.
Here are three stories of interesting first-time single women home buyers, with names changed, of course.
Sharon: Early-40s, Never Married, Nurse
Sharon lived in the foothills and wanted to move into the city to be closer to work. She was not familiar with any urban neighborhoods but had a clear-cut list of what she wanted in a home:
- Two or more bedrooms
- About $300,000
- No carpeting
- Large back yard without overhead telephone or cable wires
- Two-car garage
We toured eight homes on Saturday. She wanted to "think over" her decision. I called her on Sunday. She wanted to buy one of the homes we had seen but didn't "feel ready." By Monday it was sold.
On Wednesday, a price reduction popped up in MLS and we made the offer that afternoon. It had everything she wanted except it was more expensive, and it had cable wires overhead. Later, she called her mother to tell her the good news, that she bought a home for $335,000. Turned out her parents had bought their first home on that same street, two doors down, almost 50 years ago! How's that for coincidence?
Paula: Late-20s, Divorced Mom, State Worker
For almost a year, Paula had been receiving property e-mails from me that matched her parameters. She wanted:
- A single family home.
- Priced under $200,000.
- Close to downtown.
She called on a Sunday and asked to see a new listing on Nelson Street. It was perfect for her and underpriced for the neighborhood. I quickly tracked down the listing agent and found him at the airport in Hawaii, coming home from vacation. We presented the offer right after his plane landed. By mid-afternoon, the agent had received six full-priced offers. But Paula was already in escrow at less than list price.
Two weeks later, Paula called me to cancel. She had developed a well-known condition called cold feet. I said I'd gladly buy the house if she would assign the contract to me. She thought it over and decided if her agent wanted the house, it must be a good deal; she closed escrow. Four years later, she still lives happily on Nelson Street.
Natasha: Mid-30s, Single, Mortician
Natasha called me about my condo listing, which she found online. Unfortunately, my condo was already pending sale. I explained to Natasha that I could arrange for her to tour every single condo in that complex, and there were 10 for sale. Natasha's needs were very simple:
- 2 bedroom condo.
- Bedrooms upstairs.
- No deferred maintenance.
- Less than $200,000.
Because it was a buyer's market, I figured most sellers would agree to sell for at least 5 percent less than list prices, so we toured condos above Natasha's price point. She determined that she didn't really need a two-story condo when she could buy a one-story on the second floor. A beautiful end unit had been on the market for 6 months, and that seller was likely motivated.
Natasha made a low-ball offer and asked the seller to pay $5,000 of Natasha's closing costs, plus pay to have all the furnace duct work replaced (as noted on an inspection report). The offer was accepted, and Natasha closed escrow at $190,000, with a below-market interest rate as a first-time home buyer, and no out-of-pocket fees. Her condo is turnkey. She couldn't be happier!
11 Trends for First-Time Single Women Home Buyers
- 3 out of 4 women spend less than $200,000
- Prefer 2 bedrooms or more
- Less likely to choose new construction
- Buy in city over suburban areas
- Will compromise size and cost to get other amenities
- Will not compromise on location or quality of neighborhood
- Prefer condominiums with well-run homeowner associations over single family homes
- Smaller spaces are acceptable
- Desire security and/or gated access
- Like to engage in social interaction with neighbors
- Want close proximity to stores, shopping, and fitness centers
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, CalBRE #00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.