The number of single female homeowners is set to increase this year, building on a growing trend, say brokers in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Boston
The night before New Years Eve, Eileen Jackson spent the evening talking about one of the biggest decisions she had made in 2015: buying a home. She had gone out for drinks with one of her single male friends and ended up giving him advice on how to buy a place of his own.
Jackson, who is in her thirties, is a part of a larger trend one that Bloomberg is referring to as the return of a single female homebuyer.
The number of single women homeowners is set to increase this year, building on a growing trend, say brokers in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Boston.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of unmarried females owning homes climbed from 13.9 million in 1994 to 17.5 million 2002. The number of women buying homes, however, slowed down after the 2008 recession. In 2009, single women made up 21% of home buyers. In 2015, they made up 15%.
And the bachelors? Last year, they accounted for about 8% of the homebuyers.
Jackson has wanted to buy a home for the large part of a decade.
Back when the economy started to fall, I started to looking around and I kept getting priced out by people with cash offers that were way above asking price. It was crazy, she said.
She had kept her eye on the market, browsing listings and had seen prices rising. However, it was a leaky roof that finally made her pull the trigger. She was renting an apartment that flooded during a rainstorm due to a shoddy roof job. After a couple of nights in a hotel, Jackson realized the time to buy was now.
I couldnt control what was happening because I wasnt the owner. That made me realize I really needed to buy, she said.
No more fairytales
Victoria Massengale, a Los Angeles-based real estate agent who helped Jackson find her new place, also bought a place of her own a few years back.
Women dont buy into fairytales anymore. Theyve got their own careers, they have their own lives she said.
Many of her clients on the West Coast are looking at smaller houses, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Not so much condos, which is a little bit surprising, said Massengale.
About 90% of the single female buyers go through the process with an agent or a broker, according to the National Association of Realtors. Shopping for a home be it a condo or a house is an intimate process. The list of buyers wants often includes details about their relationship status: Do they think they will live in their new place alone or not? Do they want extra closet space for a potential partner?
If this conversation doesnt reveal a clients relationship status, the financial discussion inevitably will, said Christina Christopoulos, a New York-based broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
Single female buyers do not hide their independence especially not from their broker.
They always bring up the fact that they are single women looking to buy for themselves. They seem to be very proud of this as they should be, said Alexander Boriskin, a broker with the SLS Team at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. In the past 16 months, he has represented three single female buyers all of whom purchased co-ops in New York City and is working with a few others. The majority of his clients work in finance.
They are all looking for an apartment that would be able to accommodate a partner, not necessarily an extra bedroom but extra closet space for another person and an extra half bathroom is a big plus, he said.
In Boston, single female buyers are the new normal
Less Arnold, a real estate agent and vice-president of Compass Boston office, also admits that while the single independent buyer is not new in Boston, there has been a recent uptick.
In the past six months, half my deals have been single female buyers and they have been anywhere from mid-20s to early 40s, said Arnold. A woman in her mid-20s saved her pennies and bought a place for her and a roommate to live in.
This way instead of paying down someone elses mortgage with monthly rent payments, she and her roommate will pay down her mortgage instead.
Another of Arnolds clients is a single female university professor, who has been searching for the perfect property for about three years. Another woman in her late-20s just bought a second unit in a 60-unit building. Her first unit a studio is now an investment property that she plans to rent out.
I am super excited that we are in an era thats not weird that women are buying on their own. I would be surprised to hear that its unusual, said Arnold. I hope that in terms of home-buying women continue to just do it, because obviously its within our grasp.
Arnold herself will become a first-time homeowner in 2016. The truth is I havent met the man and I am not interested in having kids on my own, so I have decided to move ahead with the property and hope that the rest of the would come once I got myself settled, she explained. Her future home is still undergoing renovation, but is expected to close in June.
Its terrifying, which is hysterical to me because I coach people through this for a living, Arnold said, laughing. I am incredibly excited and a little bit feeling like I am over my head typical buyer feelings. But it feels really empowering to know that I am going to have my own place in which to build my future.
The properties purchased by Arnold and her clients range from $350,000 to $1.5m.
Dont throw it away on rent
According to the National Association of Realtors, the median income of the single female buyer is about $57,300 and the median price of the home they purchased is $169,000. In urban areas, both the incomes and the home values tend to be much higher.
Since 2012, an increasing number of women earned more than $100,000 a year in Boston, according to Redfin, a residential real estate company. Los Angeles, too, saw an increase in higher-income female households. Redfins recent survey of prospective buyers had 62% female respondents and 38% male respondents.
According to Massengale, many of her clients purchase Los Angeles homes within the $1m and $1.7m range.
Obviously, in Los Angeles, you have to have a really nice income to be able to afford a house like that, she said. Its not impossible though. In fact, one of her single female clients purchased a property for $4.5m. Massengale works with a lot of women in the tech and film industry, including many female television writers.
Owning a home is so much better than throwing it away on rent, Massengale said of investing in a home. The hardest thing is getting the down payment. So maybe my advice should be: dont eat as much and a get a down payment together, she added, laughing.
Jackson, who works in tech as a product manager, agreed.
I was thinking about renting another place but the rent has increased dramatically in Los Angeles. It used to be in the $2,000 range for a two bedroom, but now its in the $2,000 for a one bedroom. That just seems ridiculous, she said. So I went and got qualified for a loan and found a place in like a month, put an offer and the rest is history.
She put down more than 20% for a downpayment on her $699,000 house.
On New Years Eve, her apartment was packed away in boxes as she stood surveying her belongings. In a couple of weeks, those boxes will be unpacked in her new house. I am excited to finally more in. I am so excited to get out of here, to actually move into my house, she said, laughing with joy.
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