Single women are buying a lot of houses these days. According to a survey from the National Association of Realtors, single women are purchasing homes at twice the rate of single men. The California Association of Realtors reports that 15 percent of all owner occupied purchases this year were made by single women. So why are women leaving the guys behind when it comes to purchasing homes?
One of the advantages of living long enough is watching as the pendulum on the clock of life swings back and forth. Cultural, economic and political environments constantly swing from one side to the other. When I first got into real estate, it would be very unusual for an unmarried woman to buy a house on her own. If she could find an agent who took her seriously, she would likely have a difficult time qualifying for a loan. This seems pretty outrageous today but before the objectivity of credit scoring and automated underwriting by computers, bankers could be pretty subjective about who got approved for a loan. Back in the day, I remember coaching young couples on how to answer the standard questions that bankers were sure to ask them when applying for a mortgage.
“Do you plan on having children any time soon?”
“Will you transfer your other bank accounts to our bank?”
“Can you supply us with a character reference letter from your employer?”
One reason single women are buying more homes on their own is they make a lot more money than they use to. Over the last few decades there has been a cultural shift in the workplace. More women are in leadership positions in both private and government sectors and what were once considered traditional jobs, held by women, are paying more. Tenured elementary school teachers and nurses for instance, make well over the median income. Pew Research Center just released a study that found that in 40 percent of all households, women are the breadwinners and two-thirds of that percentage is single moms.
Not only are women making more money but they are more comfortable making large financial decisions like buying a home. Education has played a large roll. Not only do women enter college at higher rates than men, but they’re less likely to drop out once they get there. Female grads now account for about 60 percent of U.S. bachelor’s degree holders. More women are graduating with a degree in business than men and 40 percent of law school graduates are women.
As an agent, when working with buyers there are huge differences in working with single guys and single women. I prefer hanging out with guys while watching football, having a beer huddled around the barbecue and playing golf. But when it comes to working with singles, I preferred women to men.
Most singles are in an entry-level price range. That’s fine, we all need to start someplace but entry-level homes, let’s say below $250,000, usually have some issues. They may need some paint, the carpets perhaps need to be replaced and there are usually other cosmetic issues. Guys want to demonstrate their knowledge of what’s wrong with a house while women want to know how to fix it. Guys also think they are another Donald Trump when it comes to negotiators and making an offer. They want to low ball the price, have the seller pay all their closing costs and put up a small earnest money deposit. Single women ask, “What do we need to do to get an offer accepted?”
Here’s another reason women are generally better clients. Not every single person who wants to buy a home today is in a position to do so. Often, they need to save some money. Perhaps they need to establish credit or pay off some outstanding bills. After reviewing their financial situation, I will make some suggestions as to how they can position themselves to buy a home in the future. Thereafter, every few months, I will contact them to see how they are doing. Single women do better at following my advice than single guys. While Sherri is saving money and paying off credit cards, Tom is sharing with me his great time in Vegas or expounding on the top speed of his new boat.
Single women are easier to qualify for a mortgage. They have higher credit scores, more savings and have stayed on their job longer than most guys.
Although guys will be quick to point out the flaws in a home, they end up buying homes that often require substantial work and are more difficult to finance. Guys have a contractor gene. They believe they can do anything but usually underestimate the time and money of repairs. Guys usually will push the envelope buying the most expensive home they think they can afford. Women are more conservative with their purchases and content with an affordable track home in a nice neighborhood.
During every escrow something unexpected happens. A property inspection reveals problems, the appraisal is lower than expected or the lender stalls on the loan. When something goes amiss, guys want to attack the messenger, usually that’s me, while women want to resolve the issue and move forward.
Single guys probably work better with female agents. In a sales situation, women are likely better at interacting with men. But when it comes to golf or watching the game, I like guys a lot better.
Ken Calhoon is a real estate broker in El Dorado County. He can be reached at kencalhoon.com.