Hacker Connect January 16 in New York
An event for and by the real estate tech community

Women are rapidly becoming the silent majority in the real estate marketplace. While everyone pays attention to the needs of the “typical family,” very few people are addressing the specific needs of single female real estate buyers and sellers.

Which of the following groups buys more condominiums: married couples, single men or single women?

The answer is single women. Not only are single women buying more condominiums, NAR reports that 22 percent of all home purchases are made by single women as opposed to only 9 percent for single males. In other words, single Gen X and Gen Y women are buying more than twice as much real estate as compared to Gen X and Gen Y men.

What accounts for these differences? Is it that women are nesters and men are hunter-gatherers? Are women more practical — they buy a house while their male counterparts opt for the big-screen television with surround sound?

The answer is much more complex.

Consider the following facts:

1. According to the U.S. Census, 51 percent of all women in the United States live without a spouse.

2. Women now account for 57 percent of all college graduates.

3. Women continue to outpace men in terms of longevity. Women between the ages of 50 and 70 are not only inheriting their parents’ wealth, many have had their own careers where they have accumulated substantial sums of their own money. If they were married, they may also inherit (or obtain in a divorce settlement) part of what their husbands have accumulated as well.

4. While women continue to be under-represented as CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, an increasing number of small businesses are now owned and operated by women. A substantial number of these women work from home.

If you’re looking for a good source of business in a slowing market, become a niche specialist who works with single women. To better serve this increasing segment of our market, hone in on what different aspects of the single female market wants.

Primary Residence or Investment?

While many older single females shy away from investment properties due to the property management issues, a substantial proportion of single Gen X and Gen Y females are putting their money into real estate investments. A primary challenge is that there are very few residential agents who specialize in two- to four-unit investment properties.

Becoming an expert on two- to four-unit investment properties has a number of advantages. First, assuming the owner will occupy one of the units, you can obtain a conventional loan. Second, many Gen X and Gen Y females prefer to rent and make their first real estate purchase an investment property. Once someone becomes an investor, the individual is more likely to buy additional properties as opposed to someone who only purchases a primary residence. Third, for your clients who have children heading off to college, it’s often more cost effective for them to buy a condominium or small rental property rather than putting their daughter in a dorm or an apartment. The benefit is that the daughter may become one of your future clients and/or that the parents will buy additional income properties in the future.

The Age Effect

When a woman purchases a primary residence, her age may have a strong influence on the type of property she will purchase. For example, first-time Gen X and Gen Y buyers are more likely to buy a centrally located loft condominium in a major metropolitan area. The urban lifestyle is highly attractive to many single Gen X and Gen Y women.

In contrast, a boomer female may elect to purchase a townhouse or condominium that is near her children. Many women also prefer full-service condominium buildings, not only for security reasons, but for the extra help a doorman or concierge can provide. A large proportion of them also love to travel. Having a place that they can lock up and not have to worry about maintenance is another draw for the full-service-building lifestyle. As these women age, they may elect to move into a retirement community where they can have the benefit of companionship and organized group activities.

Home-based Business

It’s also important to determine whether the woman works at home. If so, having a team of trustworthy professionals who can help her convert a bedroom into her office is another great way to serve this niche.

Where to Find Them?

Join the Chamber of Commerce or an organization such as Toastmasters. Become involved in raising money for the symphony, abused women and children, or other charitable activities. Look for Gen X and Gen Y women on MySpace or SecondLife or by engaging in sports activities. The point is to meet them on their own turf and to offer a unique set of services customized to meet their specific needs.

Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.