With how uncertain the housing market has been, it is very hard to make predictions or have expectations of what's next for the industry. Despite the frequent waves of activity the housing market has seen, one thing has remained consistent: women have been dominating the homebuying sector. Falling directly behind married couples, single women represent the second-largest buying group. Single women make up 17 percent of all homebuyers and occupy approximately 10.76 million homes in the US, according to the latest research from Bankrate.
Single women buyers outpaced single men and accounted for 17 percent of the homes purchased in 2022, compared to single men’s 9 percent. This data is unsurprising to those who have been paying close attention to this growing demographic of homebuyers over the years. In fact, single women have held this second-place position since 1981 and theirs is the only group to show an increase from 1981 to 2020. The rate of single women buying homes has largely remained constant between 2016 and 2022 (varying from 17 to 19 percent), whereas the percentage of single men buying homes has stayed significantly lower between 7 to 9 percent.
Also of note, Freddie Mac reports that the borrowing profiles for many women are considered incredibly favorable among lenders - highlighting that many women are credit-worthy buyers with higher credit scores and lower serious delinquency (SDQ) rates compared to single men. Now is the time for lenders and services to understand and engage this growing segment of the home buying population.
Why are single women buying?
Women’s commitment to achieving financial security independently is higher than ever before. Women have independence in their life and career choices; that includes choosing to own a home. A variety of motivating factors fuel their buying decisions: the desire to build wealth through real estate, to reach their goal of becoming a homeowner, to create a living space they can call their own, or to relocate following divorce or the death of their spouse. Many women have experienced a status change, from married to single, which may provide them with additional funds to use toward a down payment — proceeds from selling their marital home in a divorce, for example. These women may be buying a new residence or investing in real estate to help bolster their retirement funding. “Today, many women can afford to divorce when relationships end and are perfectly capable paying their own bills and ultimately buying their own home,” says Natascha DeVries, vice president, account management, ServiceLink Flood. “I bought my ex-husband out and kept our home after the divorce and I am not the exception in my circle of friends.”
How sacrifices lead to success
Single women have different priorities when purchasing a home than men do. 41 percent of women say the location of their friends and family play a huge role in the deciding factor for which neighborhood they buy in, versus 35 percent of men. Single women are also more likely to make financial sacrifices to own a home. 39 percent of single women cut their spending and would take a second job. Data even shows that 36 percent of single women lived with parents or relatives to avoid paying rent, whereas only 20 percent of single men made a sacrifice like that. 68 percent of single men took on the extra expense of renting an apartment or house, where only 58 percent of single women did. “Considering home values have risen so sharply post-COVID, owning real estate is more lucrative than ever and a great way to build wealth,” says Sarah Kapis, executive communications writer at ServiceLink. Sacrifices like these may contribute toward savings for a downpayment and mortgage – and may explain why more single women homeowners are.
Meeting the needs of this growing market segment
What do single women want and expect from their mortgage experience? The same as any buyer: convenience, efficiency and transparency. The biggest difference is that when working with any single buyer, every burden on the customer side falls on that person alone since they don’t have a spouse to share in the logistical details of pulling paperwork together, submitting the application, scheduling and attending the closing, etc. “I’ve always been the person to take care of everything as it relates to my mortgage. I educated myself on the different mortgages available, lenders, brokers, when to refi, taxes, and other expenses such as home warranties” says DeVries. Finding the right partner to help alleviate the responsibilities is crucial.
“When I bought my home, I wanted the support of a lender who could help set me up for success,” says Kapis. “That’s why lenders who have incorporated technologies like EXOS® are successfully appealing to single buyers. I think it’s important for women to own real estate regardless of their marital status.”
ServiceLink’s EXOS technology empowers consumers to play more of an active role in the process, with the ability to schedule appraisals and closings at their convenience. The flexibility to select the exact date and time for the appraisal – and location for the signing appointment - is critical in easing the logistical burden on single homebuyers.
Designed to connect all parties and promote visibility throughout the mortgage process, the EXOS platform provides the consumer with a profile of the appraiser or signing agent they will be meeting. The profile includes their full name, make and model of their vehicle, photo and contact information. This level of information not only helps to increase consumer’s confidence as they near the closing table, but also provides a sense of safety and familiarity, mirroring the interface of popular ride-sharing or food delivery apps. EXOS also embeds educational experience into its applications to help reduce complexities for homebuyers.
“Anything a lender or servicer can do to shed light on the process and educate homebuyers is valuable, especially to those going through this process for the first time,” Kapis shares. “When your name — and only your name — is going on that mortgage application, you want the peace of mind of knowing everything is going just right."