Women’s pay may still lag behind that of their male counterparts on average, but single women are taking the lead when it comes to purchasing real estate. In fact, single women are buying homes at twice the rate of single men, and they have been for at least a few years now.
That’s according to data from the National Association of Realtors’ “2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.” Married couples made up the largest share of homebuyers last year at 65 percent, but single females came in second with 18 percent. Just 7 percent of buyers were single men.
Primarily, older women are choosing to invest in real estate. The largest percentage of single female buyers is found in the 72 and older age group, the NAR reports. And while the number of single women buying houses goes up with age, it drops for single men.
Single women comprised 20 percent of homebuyers between the ages of 51 and 60 in 2016, but single men only made up 10 percent.
There are several reasons why single women, especially boomers, are choosing to invest in real estate and put down roots. For older women, it could be an effect of downsizing after losing a spouse or parting ways with one.
“They’re either divorced or their husbands have died, and they have the money and they’re buying,” Jane Fairweather, a real estate agent in Bethesda, Maryland, told CNBC Real Estate reporter Diana Olick. “They want stability. They want to have control over their monthly expenses. They’re going to be where their children or friends are. They’re not whimsical at that age.”
For younger women, homeownership is becoming a viable alternative to rent, which is increasingly expensive. A survey from research firm Builders Digital Experience cited by The Washington Post found that 23 percent of single women considered rising rent prices reason enough to buy.
And, despite the pay gap, women are starting to earn higher salaries, giving them more financial freedom. While women earned a median annual salary of around $30,675 in 1980, as of 2015 that number had risen to $40,742, according to data from the Department of Labor.