Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

In Honor of Women's History Month, a Look at Successes and Challenges for Women in Homeownership

In March 1987, Congress passed a resolution establishing March as Women’s History Month. Women's History Month gives us a chance to celebrate and recognize the contributions, achievements, and struggles of women throughout history. As we celebrate Women's History Month, it's worth noting the impressive progress women have made in the realm of homeownership, overcoming plenty of hurdles along the way. We're seeing more and more women becoming homeowners, with single women making a notable impact in the housing market. But let's not ignore the fact that gender disparities persist, especially for women of color, who often deal with multiple layers of discrimination. It's vital to acknowledge and tackle these inequalities to ensure all women have a fair shot at homeownership and financial security.

Owning a home has long been the ultimate path to building wealth for American families, so it’s important for us to dig into where homeownership rates have been, where they're headed, who's getting ahead, and who's getting left behind. 2024 marks 50 years since the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which, in conjunction with the Fair Housing Act, opened the housing market for single women. Since 1981, the inaugural year of the National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report, single women outpaced single men in the housing market, falling second only to married couples. A more in-depth analysis of the motivations for home buying, the barriers to homeownership, and related financial decisions can be found in another post on this topic.

Line graph: Household Composition of Home Buyers, 1981 to 2023

Across racial and ethnic groups, except for Asian American and Pacific Islander single females, consistent patterns emerge. According to the 2024 Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America, single females accounted for 29% of Black/African American home buyers, 17% of Hispanic/Latino home buyers, and 20% of White home buyers. However, among Asian American and Pacific Islander home buyers, single females rank third at 10%, trailing behind married and unmarried couples.

Table: Household Composition by Race/Ethnicity

Although single women are buying houses at the second highest rate, women of color are still underserved in the housing market. When examining single female homeownership, statistics from the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reveal a significant disparity between the homeownership rates of white women and women of color.

Line graph: Race/Ethnicity of Single Female Home Buyers, 2013 to 2023

When looking at 10-year averages of single female home buyers by race and ethnicity, white women make up the majority at 84%. In contrast, women of color are represented in single-digit percentages: Hispanic/Latino women account for 6%, Black/African-American women for 7%, and Asian/Pacific Islander women for 3%.

Pie chart: 10-Year Average of Racial/Ethnic Composition of Single Female Home Buying

While it's great to acknowledge the strides single women are making in the housing market, it's crucial to recognize there's still a lot of ground to cover. Women of color, in particular, face extra challenges due to a mix of gender and race-based discrimination, alongside economic disparities. They often come up against systemic hurdles rooted in historical and ongoing racial discrimination, like limited access to good education, jobs, and affordable housing. Additionally, differences in income and wealth (both generational and personal) mean they could have less of a chance of owning a home.