Women Home Buyers

Quick Takeaways:

  • Women’s homeownership rate was 61.2 % in 2019, up from 50.9 % in 1990
  • More single women are household heads
  • Women still make less than men

Source: More Women Have Become Homeowners and Heads of Household. Could the Pandemic Undo That Progress (Urban Wire, March 16, 2021)

The NAR 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers contains much updated information on all home buyers and sellers including single female buyers.

The New York Times discussed why it is so hard for single moms to buy at house. Find out why Tampa is the most popular city for single women homebuyers. Family Handyman has the history of homebuying by women—from the 1700s to the present.

Can you buy a house without your spouse? Yes, says Quicken Loans. The gender gap is real. Find out how it affects mortgage rates and buying and selling a house.

NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require the member's nar.realtor login.

First-time and Repeat Home Buyers 2021

Source: 2021 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers

Statistics on Women and Homeownership

The share of single females rose slightly to 19 percent, and single males held steady at nine percent the past three years.

Single female and single male buyers were more likely to purchase a townhouse or condo than married couples and unmarried couples

Single females more than any other household composition cited the convenience to friends and family as an influencing factor in their neighborhood choice, at 53 percent.

Source: 2021 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Women & Homeownership Trends

Dream of Buying a Home Gets Harder for Single Mothers (The New York Times, Nov. 11, 2021)

  • The pandemic, combined with the challenging market landscape, has eroded women’s confidence about their likelihood of becoming homeowners: Nearly 60 percent of single female heads of households who rent — those who never married, those who are separated or divorced, and widows — said they could not afford to buy and didn’t know if they ever would, according to a September study by Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage giant.

History of Women’s Property Rights and Ownership (Family Handyman, Nov. 9. 2021)

  • The right of women to own and manage property today is equal to that of men, but full financial autonomy didn’t come about until late in the 20th century. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that a woman could access a line of credit independently without a man to cosign her application. It took another decade for the courts to rule that a husband doesn’t have the right to unilaterally take out a second mortgage on property held jointly with his wife.

10 Best Cities for Single Women to Buy a Home (ThinkAdvisor, June 11, 2021)

  • Researchers assigned weights to each factor based on their significance to a single female homeowner, then calculated the sum of the nine weighted factors to arrive at an overall city score for each city. The highest possible city score was 50.

Homeownership Gender Gap: Single Women Own More Homes Than Single Men Do (LendingTree, March 10, 2021)

  • Tampa, Fla., has the highest share of homes owned by single women. In the city of Tampa, 16.83% — or nearly 132,500 — of owner-occupied households are owned by single women.

More Women Have Become Homeowners and Heads of Household. Could the Pandemic Undo That Progress (Urban Wire, March 16, 2021)

  • Along with the increase in headship, women are now more likely to own a home than they were three decades ago. The homeownership rate among women increased from 50.9 percent to 61.2 percent between 1990 and 2019, while the homeownership rate among men dropped from 70.6 percent to 67.1 percent.

Financing Homeownership

A Gender Gap You May Have Never Heard About: The Women’s Housing Investment Disparity (Rocket Mortgage, Nov. 10, 2021)

  • Some studies have shown that women are less likely to negotiate. A more recent study examining salary negotiations found that women do “ask” as much as their male counterparts but they don’t “receive” at the same rate. Some of the social perceptions of and biases against women may come into play in bargaining situations. For women of color, these issues may be compounded. As a result of this imbalance, women may need to arm themselves with more information and be better negotiators than their male counterparts to achieve their desired results.

Can I Buy a House Without My Spouse? Your Mortgage Questions Answered (Quicken Loans, May 13, 2021)

  • The short answer is “yes,” it is possible for a married couple to apply for a mortgage under only one of their names. If you’re looking to get a mortgage without your spouse, or if you’re just wondering why in the world someone would do this, we’ve got a few answers.

The Gender Gap: Women Pay More for Their Mortgage Than Men (Own Up, March 17, 2021)

  • The inequity in rates is indicative of a systemic problem and deeper underlying factors. The ability to get a mortgage involves your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and the rates you receive are influenced by factors such as credit score, loan-to-value ratio (LTV), and property and occupancy type. Without pay equity, women may find themselves with lower DTIs, lower credit scores, and therefore, higher mortgage rates than men.

Useful Websites

Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2021) — HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) works to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities.

The State of the Nation's Housing: 2021 (Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, 2021) — The national homeownership rate remains on an upward trajectory, driven by the aging of more millennials into their 30s and the strong income gains among these young adults. Census Bureau estimates for the first quarter of 2021 show a 0.3 percentage point year-over-year increase in homeownership, which comes on the heels of a 1.2 per­centage point rise between the post-recession low in 2016 and 2019.

2020 Women Housing Ecosystem Report (National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses 2020) — Women in the Housing & Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) proudly introduces the 2020 NAWRB Women Housing Ecosystem Report (WHER), the fourth installment of the most diverse coverage of the Housing Ecosystem with over sixty resources in six volumes: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Real Estate, Business Ownership, STEM, Access to Capital, and Aging Population with a gender lens perspective.

eBooks & Other Resources


The following ebooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Wise Women Invest in Real Estate (eBook)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

As a member benefit, the following resources and more are available for loan through the NAR Library. Items will be mailed directly to you or made available for pickup at the REALTOR® Building in Chicago.

Own It!: The Ups and Downs of Homebuying for Women Who Go It Alone (Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2008) HF 5438 M97

Single Woman's Guide to Real Estate (Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2006) HF 5438 R18s

Buying Solo: The Single Woman' Guide to Buying a First Home (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2005) HF 5438 Su6

Redesigning the American Dream: the Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2002) HD 7293 H39

Americans and Their Homes: Demographics of Homeownership (Ithaca, NY: New Strategist Publications, 1998) HD 1341 R91

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