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Buying A House Without A Spouse: Five Facts About Single Women Homebuyers

Lack of knowledge about mortgage requirements is likely keeping some prospective women homebuyers from actively taking steps toward a purchase.

Single women are a quiet force in the housing market, accounting for nearly one in five home purchases. We dug into the research to uncover five important facts mortgage originators should know about the women who buy homes for themselves.

  1. Impact on the housing market: Nationwide, 18% of homes were purchased by single women in 2019 the second-largest homebuyer segment after married couples, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Purchases by single women are up sharply from 11% in 1981 when the NAR started tracking sales to single buyers.
      • Women far outpace single men (who account for 9% of home purchases).
      • As reported in a survey for the Bank of America’s 2018 Homebuyer Insights Report, 73% of single women prioritize owning a home (vs. 65% of men).
      • In the survey, single women ranked buying a home above other life events, such as getting married (41%) and having children (31%).


  2. Independence motivates single-female buyers: When asked about buying a first home, single women told Bank of America’s survey team that a purchase would make them feel independent (57%), successful (47%) and empowered (31%).

    While those responses could form the outline of a credit union’s marketing campaign for women, other studies reveal hurdles for mortgage originators when it comes to translating the desire for a home into action. According to a 2019 LendingTree.com survey, single women who are first-time buyers lag behind repeat female buyers in terms of their familiarity with the following subjects:

      • The different type of mortgages available: First-time buyers (21%). Repeat buyers (47%).
      • The mortgage process: First-time buyers (17%). Repeat buyers (60%).
      • Cash required at closing: First-time buyers (26%). Repeat buyers (55%).
      • Down payment requirements: First-time buyers (33%). Repeat buyers (60%).


  3. Women are outpacing men in education and in the workforce: According to Pew Research, 29.5 million women in the labor force have a bachelor’s degree slightly higher than the 29.3 million men with four-year degrees. Women now account for 50.2% of the college-educated workforce an 11% increase since 2000.

    It should be noted that college-educated women earn a median annual income of $51,600 versus $74,900 for men. That’s reflected in home purchases, with single women buyers paying a median $189,000 for a home compared to single men at $215,000, according to NAR.

  4. Typical purchases: Single women tend to buy condominiums and homes in developments with added security and gated access, according to a 2019 article in The Balance citing statistics from the Joint Center for Housing Studies. Other preferences include cities more than rural areas and homes with two bedrooms to accommodate a child or an adult parent they’re caring for.
  5. Financing a home: With a median age of 54, single homebuyers include both women who were never married and those who need a new home following a divorce or other life events. As a result, women homebuyers are less likely than other buyers to tap into their savings accounts for down payments, with 52% using savings to cover the initial cost of homeownership and 39% using the proceeds from the sale of a previous residence, according to NAR figures.


Looking collectively at this quintet of facts, it’s clear there’s a strong desire among many single women to buy a home. However, a lack of knowledge about mortgage requirements is likely keeping some prospective buyers from actively taking steps toward a home purchase.

Given the increasing numbers of single homebuyers, it’s somewhat surprising few lenders have developed effective advertising messages and homebuyer education programs to unlock the purchasing potential of this important group.

About the author: Jo Fleischer, a senior writer in Arch MI’s marketing department, joined the company nine years ago after two decades as a writer and editor for newspapers and trade magazines.

Phone: 336-333-0433. Email: Jfleischer@archmi.com

About Arch MI: Arch MI has supported credit unions for more than 25 years with stability, service and solutions. Partner with the unmatched expertise of the largest and longest-serving MI team dedicated to credit unions and access innovative solutions like RateStar BuydownSM, the industry’s only MI buydown tool. archmicu.com

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
August 3, 2020

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