Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

All the Single Ladies

Since 1981, single females have been second only to married couples in the home buying market. When the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers started 35 years ago, 11 percent of home buyers were single females. The share of single females rose to a peak of 22 percent in 2006 and in 2015 was at 15 percent.

In comparison, single male buyers have been between 6 and 12 percent with no consistent trend. Since 2012, single male buyers have been 9 percent of recent home buyers. Married couples had a peak of 81 percent of buyers in 1985, but in have dropped to 67 percent of all buyers in 2015.

The single female share likely fell as there was more competition from investors and vacation buyers in the market, who were competing for similar square footage size and type of home. Single females also have a high share of first-time home buyers, which also fell in recent years.

While single female buyers are buying homes while making lower household incomes than single males, 48 percent of married couples and unmarried couples made financial sacrifices to get into a home of their own.

Single females typically purchased for the desire to own a home of their own (37 percent) or because of a change in their family situation (12 percent). When they purchase a home, convenience to friends and family is more important to single females than other types of buyers. Twenty percent of single females have children under the age of 18 in their home compared to 45 percent of married couples, 28 percent of unmarried couples, and 14 percent of single males.

Household Composition

To follow along with this series as we discuss the findings of 35 years’ worth of Profile data, check out the hashtag #NARHBSat35 on your social channels.  NAR Research will be releasing trend line data since 1981 to celebrate 35 years of home buyer and seller demographic research.

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