Although some of the pricier markets are cooling, many buyers struggle to save for a home purchase. The exorbitant cost of renting alone creates obstacles for prospective homeowners, not accounting for high student loan debt. However, affordability and appreciation headwinds appear to increase for women, according to RealtyTrac’s first-ever Housing Gender Gap Analysis.

  • The housing gender gap is twofold: homes owned by single women are valued 10 percent less and appreciate 16 percent slower compared to homes owned by single men.

Although some of the pricier markets are cooling, many buyers struggle to save for a home purchase. The exorbitant cost of renting alone creates obstacles for prospective homeowners, not accounting for high student loan debt.

However, affordability and appreciation headwinds appear to increase for women, according to RealtyTrac’s first-ever Housing Gender Gap Analysis.

The housing gender gap is twofold: homes owned by single women are valued 10 percent less and appreciate 16 percent slower compared to homes owned by single men, based on a study of 2.1 million single family homes.

infographic_gender_gap

“The wealth-building effect of homeownership is diminished for women homeowners because of a domino effect of lower wages and lower-valued homes, which then tend to appreciate at a slower pace,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “When we broke it out by years of homeownership, the gap widens.”

D.C.: not always in men’s favor

Data from the U.S. Bureau and Labor Statistics 2015 demonstrations women (overall) earned 19 percent less than men last year. With less income, women face a more arduous path to homeownership in hot markets.

RealtyTrac shows women have lower home values than men. Male-owned homes are estimated at $255,226, which is 10 percent higher than female-owned homes.

D.C. features the biggest gender value gap, where men’s homes are assessed 14 percent higher than women’s homes.

“My impression would be D.C. would be more equal given the political environment with more equal pay, so it’s surprising to see that 14 percent gap,” said Blomquist. “However, when you look at the appreciation piece, it’s actually the reverse.”

Women realized 107 percent returns on original purchase price, whereas men gained 99 percent returns. Both are high given the competitive market in D.C., but women are actually outperforming men in home value growth.

Blomquist points out that lower values don’t necessarily mean lower appreciation, which is exemplified in D.C. While women face lower home values overall, their homes are appreciating more rapidly.

States with home value gender gaps

States where women fall behind the most in home values include Florida (12 percent), West Virginia (12 percent), Wisconsin (12 percent), Texas (10 percent) and Alabama (10 percent).

On the other hand, some states confirm women owning homes with a higher value than men. In Massachusetts, men’s homes are valued 11 percent less. Kentucky and Kansas feature value gender gaps that favor women, but only by 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

The longer women own their homes, the more dramatic the home value gender gap. For women who’ve owned for 10 years or less, the gap is 7 percent ($18,185). For women who’ve owned longer than 10 years, the gap doubles to 14 percent ($38,872). Longer than 15 years, and the home value gender gap widens to 17 percent ($48,746).

Women losing out on value appreciation

RealtyTrac shows homes owned by single men present a 33 percent return on purchase price, or an average $63,921 value gain. Women, however, only see 31 percent returns, or $53,809 in value appreciation.

Unfortunately, there is a 16 percent home value gain gap as it relates to gender — where home value appreciation among men is $10,112 higher than women.

“We see some markets where even the men and women start out at similar values, and the appreciation is different. That tells me that at least part of this is because of the affordability issue; that women are having to buy in areas that are less desirable,” said Blomquist. “Therefore, women have less upside in terms of home price appreciation moving forward.”

Like home values overall, home value appreciation increases for men more than women. At fewer than 10 years, there is a 16 percent gender gap ($6,266 higher for men), while more than 10 years shows a 20 percent gender gap ($19,781 higher for men). More than 15 years shows a 21 percent gender gap, where single men’s homes hold $36,496 higher appreciation than women.

Average home value gains favored men in West Virginia (72 percent higher), Wisconsin (41 percent higher), Alabama (40 percent higher), Maine (35 percent higher) and Minnesota (34 percent higher).

Single women homeowners realized higher value gains in New York (30 percent higher), New Jersey (29 percent higher), North Dakota (22 percent higher), Massachusetts (11 percent higher) and Virginia (8 percent higher).

Lifestyle factors falling into the gap

Aside from the gender differentiation between home values and appreciation, there are a few other areas that benefit male homeowners compared to female homeowners, and vice versa.

Single women tend to own homes in areas with higher levels of criminal offenders. In zip codes with higher shares of homeownership for women, the average RealtyTrac Criminal Offender Index was 19.19, or 7 percent higher than male-dominated homeownership zips (17.87 index).

However, women win on the environmental front, with 23 percent lower in the RealtyTrac Environmental Hazards Housing Risk Index. In zips with higher share of female homeowners, the risk was 45.69. In zips with higher shares of male homeowners, the risk is 59.40.

While many theories can progress on home values as they relate to the criminal index and environmental risk factor, the opening look doesn’t reveal a connection just yet.

“Uncovering the question of why we see appreciation — we’re going to continue to dig into it,” Blomquist said.

Email Jennifer Riner

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