Single women own more homes than men in the 50 biggest metro areas in the country.
- 65% of single women aren’t waiting for marriage to buy homes.
- Single women now own more homes than single men in the United States’ 50 largest metro areas.
- Declining marriage rates and interest in having kids suggest that young people aren’t tying real estate to family planning.
Single women aren’t postponing major life decisions until they tie the knot — including the decision to buy a home.
A solid majority of single women don’t plan on waiting until they’re married to pursue mortgages, according to recently released data from Bank of America. About 2 in 3 single women (65%) reported that they would rather not wait until they were married to buy homes, regardless of how old they were.
Nearly a third of all female homeowners in the US bought a home while unmarried. These numbers come as more women have become homeowners in the past three decades, marriage rates have declined dramatically in the past six decades, and a growing number of millennials and Generation Z adults say they don’t plan to have children, a decision that shapes home buying for many families.
Single women are also quietly dominating the housing market, with more single women owning homes than men in the biggest cities in the country.
80% of single women are actively excited about the prospect of owning a home themselves, the report says. They value homeownership as an adult milestone, with 92% agreeing that it would be a “great accomplishment” to buy a home without help, and 60% saying they’ll feel as if they “made it,” once they own a home.
That doesn’t mean that single women pursuing homeownership don’t want to get married — their views on the relationship between homebuying and marriage are simply shifting. 87% of respondents to the survey said that it was an “outdated” idea that someone must be married to buy a home, and 71% of single women said that if they bought a home while single, they would want to have their future partner move in with them.
Single women aren’t planning around spouses — they’re planning around their savings
“Despite feeling emotionally ready, many single women still don’t feel financially ready to purchase a home on their own,” Susan Atran, the Senior Vice President of Media Relations at Bank of America, told Insider. “But their financial decisions show they’re on the way to closing this gap.”
Nearly three-quarters of single women reported that they haven’t made a purchase yet because they want to feel financially stable first. That makes them slightly more reserved than men on the whole, 64% of whom expressed the same sentiment. A majority of single women were also concerned about planning for down payments and improving their credit scores before taking the big swing.
Women face extra challenges to meeting those financial concerns. The wage gap between men and women persists, and women have been leaving the workforce en masse during the pandemic, especially women with children.
But single women are succeeding in these goals anyway: U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by the mortgage research firm LendingTree found that single women are more likely than single men to own a home in every one of the US’ 50 largest metros. The median age of single female first-time home buyers is 33, showing that younger women are shaping the millennial pandemic surge in home buying.
Younger people aren’t planning around spouses and kids, because they might not have them
Family roles have changed in the 21st century. 30 years ago, in married, heterosexual households, male partners were still often breadwinners and considered heads of their households. Between 1990 and 2019, however, the number of households headed by single women increased from 17.6% to 22.6%, according to the Urban Institute’s analysis of census data. Even among married two-income households, the researchers write, it is increasingly common for women to run their homes, going from 21.8% to 46.1% during that same period.
Women are owning more homes in general. The homeownership rate among women increased from 50.9% to 61.2% between 1990 and 2019, while the rate among men dropped from 70.6% to 67.1%.
And it’s not just the restructuring of finances within marriage that’s happened — fewer people are getting married and having kids at all. In 2019, about 38% of adults in the US between 25 and 34 years of age weren’t married or living with a partner, according to the Pew Research Center, although evidence shows that more people are also choosing to get married later. And 44% of non-parents ages 18 to 49 say they’re not likely to have children, according to another Pew report, from 37% who said the same in a 2018 survey.
“A desire for community connections as well as building equity and stability in part contributed to a surge in millennial homebuying during the pandemic,” Atran said. “Nowhere is this more evident than amongst millennial single women who are prioritizing homeownership as a key milestone.”