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Single women are a force to be reckoned with in residential real estate.

Despite dealing with lower incomes than men, a pricey housing market and increasingly expensive mortgages, they comprise the second largest group of homebuyers — and have done every year since 1981, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). As of 2023, single women made up 17 percent of all homebuyers. Single men, by contrast, accounted for just 9 percent. (Couples, both married and unmarried, remain the dominant group: buyers in about 70 percent of real estate purchases.)

While they often have to sacrifice to make it happen, single women are a very determined, motivated group of buyers and they’re not letting daunting odds prevent them from achieving the American Dream of homeownership.

Single women U.S. homeowner statistics:
  • Single women own and occupy 10.76 million homes in the U.S.
  • 12.9% of American owner-occupied homes belong to single women
  • It wasn’t until 1900 that all states allowed women to hold property in their own names
  • It wasn’t until 1974 that women were apply for and obtain mortgages on their own —without a male co-signer
  • The median age of a single female first-time homebuyer is 38, compared to 37 for a single male
  • Women spend about 2% more when they buy a house than men and sell for 2% less. As a result, they realize 1.5% annualized lower returns, or $1,600 a year, on their homes. Sounds small, but it adds up to $20,000 over 13 years (the U.S. average length of homeownership)
  • 17% of today’s single homebuyers are women; 9% are single men, compared to 11% and 10%, respectively, in 1981

There are many reasons why single women seek to become homeowners. One of the leading motivations is they simply want the freedom of owning their own home, according to NAR data. In addition, women often pursue homeownership (or homeownership in their own names) after a destabilizing change in their family situation — such as a divorce or a death — suddenly makes them single.

Some also pursue homeownership for happier reasons as well: after the birth of a child, to be close to friends and family or due to a job change (especially a more lucrative one). Still others do so to escape the uncertainties of the rental market, including regular rent increases and the possibility of a lease not being renewed.