November 8, 2023
More women own homes than ever before
In much of the U.S., single women are outpacing single men when it comes to homeownership. This may be somewhat surprising, given that women in the U.S. make an average of 81 cents for every dollar men earn, according to PayScale.
Nonetheless, U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by LendingTree shows that single women are more likely than single men to own a home in each of the nation’s 50 largest metros.
In total, single women own nearly 1.6 million more homes than single men do in America’s 50 largest metros. Single women own about 5.2 million homes, while single men own about 3.6 million homes.
There isn’t a single metro among the largest 50 where single men own more homes than single women. The average difference between the share of homes that single women own compared to single men is 3.7 percent.
Why it’s harder for women to own homes than men
- On average, women earn less than men working in year-round, full-time positions: A 2022 Zillow study found that women have access to “18 percent less of the real estate market than men because of the wage gap: In other words, they could buy nearly one-fifth more of the available homes (and presumably, higher-priced homes) if they made as much money as their male counterparts.”
- Women face higher mortgage denials and mortgage rates: When women do manage to buy a home, they typically make smaller down payments and take out bigger mortgages, meaning they start out with less of an ownership stake than single men do. “Single women, low-to-middle income women and over-65 women — especially those residing in certain neighborhoods — have been ‘steered toward subprime loans even when they could have qualified for prime loans.’ The higher interest rates, fees and penalties of these loans make it more likely for female homeowners to fall into ever-tightening debt traps and foreclosure.”
- The values of women-owned homes appreciate slower: According to Habitat for Humanity International, “for an average home worth $200,000 held for five years, a 2 percent difference in purchase and sale price translates to single women losing approximately $1,600 per year relative to single men.” Single women also pay “approximately 1-2 percent more for comparable properties than single men, and then sell these homes for 2-3 percent less.
How homeownership benefits women and their families
Homeownership improves school performance, decreases crime, and enhances the health and well-being of children, as well as adults. An evidence brief done by Habitat for Humanity International shows:
- Stable home environments raise young children’s math and reading test scores, making affordable homeownership a conduit for greater residential stability.
- Removing hazards and providing homes that meet families’ needs leads to better physical and mental health and development for children.
- Studies have demonstrated that families who receive subsidized housing but can choose which neighborhood to live in have children who attend schools with higher attendance rates, graduation rates, and reading and math proficiency rates, along with lower dropout and violence rates.
Why women’s homeownership is increasing
The increased educational gains of women who are heads of households is reflected in their higher homeownership rates.
Women who are heads of household with bachelor’s degrees have a homeownership rate of 35 percent, compared to 37 percent for men with bachelor’s degrees – a difference of 2 percentage points. This indicates that women who are heads of household with a college degree are more likely to be homeowners than their male counterparts. Over the last 30 years, women as heads of household with a bachelor’s degrees increased by 17 percent, nearly catching up with men.
The higher educational attainment and homeownership rates for women who are heads of households reflect their increased financial security and independence. With higher educational attainment comes better job opportunities, higher wages, and more financial stability. This in turn leads to higher homeownership rates, as women are able to purchase homes and build equity, creating a more secure financial future.
“Women have a very strong preference for homeownership,” Jessica Lautz, the National Association of Realtor’s deputy chief economist and vice president of research says. “They think it’s a good financial investment. They also are willing to make financial sacrifices. They traditionally have a lower household income, and they’re willing to cut expenses in other areas of their life to achieve homeownership.”
How Habitat Contributes to Women Homeownership
- Habitat homes are priced at fair market value, which is the price of the home if it were sold under prevailing market conditions, and are not subject to the negotiating ability of the homebuyer or any implicit bias or prejudice on the part of their real estate agent.
- Mortgage payments for Habitat homes are kept at 30% of the homeowner’s monthly income, independent of home value or financing terms. This model ensures that Habitat homes are affordable regardless of gender and protects women from paying higher costs for their homes.
- Consequently, Habitat homeowners, most of whom are female, do not start their homeownership journey at a deficit and instead are able to begin accruing equity immediately upon purchasing their home.
Homeownership Gender Gap: Single Women Own More Homes Than Single Men, LendingTree.com
The Housing Gender Gap: Why Women still face Roadblocks in homeownership, home equity and home values, Bankrate.com
Domino Effect: Gender Pay Gap Has Implications for Women Home Buyers, Zillow.com
How does Homeownership Contribute to Wealth Building?, Habitat for Humanity International
How does Housing Affect Children’s Education?, Habitat for Humanity International
More Women Have Become Homeowners and Heads of Household. Could the Pandemic Undo That Progress?, Urban Institute
The number of single women homeowners continues to surpass the number of single men homeowners, Bankrate.com
Interested in having a home to call your own and building generational wealth for your family? Take our eligibility quiz to find out if you qualify for Houston Habitat’s homeownership program.Take Quiz