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Progress, Problems When It Comes to Women’s Homeownership

While a study last fall showed the coronavirus pandemic hitting working women harder than their male counterparts—a "she-cession," the phenomenon has been called—other recent studies by Redfin and LendingTree, for example, have shown the rate of single-women homeownership increasing at a brisk pace. Some researchers are taking a closer look at the progress that single women have made in achieving this significant "tenet of the American Dream," as First American Economist Odeta Kushi put it.

And while women are making progress, problems remain, according to further studies, which show women making less when selling and paying more when buying a home.

Single women homeownership is outpacing the overall homeownership rate of growth.

In a nutshell, Kushi reports, "According to our analysis of anonymized household-level survey data, following an overall decline in the homeownership rate among single women in the aftermath of the Great Recession to a low point of 49% in 2016, the homeownership rate among single women has rebounded significantly to just over 52% in 2020. The rebound for single women homeownership has outpaced the overall homeownership rate of growth over the same time period."

College-educated women are more likely to become homeowners. 

Previous research has shown that homeownership among women correlates with education levels and related income levels. And women increasingly have pursued higher levels of education over the last two decades, Kushi said.

"The share of single women with a bachelor’s degree or higher has increased from 20% in the year 2000 to over 32% in 2020," Kushi noted. "Similarly, real median household income for single women has increased approximately 10% from 2000 to 2020, resulting in greater house-buying power. These trends have increased the importance of educational attainment in achieving homeownership. The homeownership gap between single women with just a high school degree (or some college) versus those with a bachelor’s degree was 0.1 percentage points in the year 2000 and increased to 7.8 percentage points in 2020."

When it comes to homeownership, COVID has disproportionately impacted younger women ...

As for the effect of the COVID-related recession on women, specifically, women, especially younger women and/or less educated women, have been disproportionately impacted because of their over-representation in service-sector jobs, reportedly.

That said, while the pandemic recession has proven devastating for many of these workers, the nature of this service sector-driven recession is unlikely to result in a one-to-one decline in homeownership demand for single women because those being impacted disproportionately by this she-cession are much less likely to have been house hunting in the first place," Kushi noted. "Single women homeownership in the medium- and long-term, particularly for millennial women, is anticipated to rise due to increasing educational attainment, income, and a desire for homeownership."

There are reports out there that indicate problems remain for women home shoppers and sellers. 

According to Credello, "a closer look at the data shows that women ultimately purchase homes at higher prices and sell them at lower costs than men."

One recent study from Yale shows that single women purchase homes for 2% more than single men, Credello cites in a recent article. "When mortgages are taken into account, assuming 20% down and 80% financed, this increases to about 7%.  They then sell their homes for 2% less."

The biggest price discrepancy, according to Credello, happens when a woman is selling and a man is buying.

"And it looks like there's a reason why they don't try to play hardball," according to Credello. "Research (Harvard study) shows that women who negotiate are viewed less favorably than their deal-making male counterparts."

Women in general also enjoy less purchasing power, said the National Association of Realtors.

"Women currently earn 81 cents on the dollar compared to men, translating to less purchasing power when it comes to buying homes," said Credello, citing NAR. "This likely contributes to the fact that single men buy more expensive homes. The median home purchase price for single men is $215,000, compared to $189,000 for single women."

About Author: Christina Hughes Babb

Christina Hughes Babb is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, she has been a reporter, editor, and publisher in the Dallas area for more than 15 years. During her 10 years at Advocate Media/Dallas Magazine, she published thousands of articles covering local politics, real estate, development, crime, the arts, entertainment, and human interest, among other topics. She has won two national Mayborn School of Journalism Ten Spurs awards for nonfiction, and has penned pieces for Texas Monthly, Salon.com, Dallas Observer, Edible, and the Dallas Morning news, among others. Contact Christina at christina.hughesbabb@thefivestar.com.
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