Single women outnumber men as first-time homebuyers by a significant margin, according to a new survey released by the National Association of Realtors on Monday.
The number of single women who purchased a new home this year hovered at 18 percent, unchanged from 2017 but up one percent from 2016, according to the latest Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey. The number of men, meanwhile, stood at 9 percent, up from 7 percent in 2017. At 63 percent, married couples remained most active among homebuyers.
“Single females have always been second only to married couples in the housing market and outpaced single men,”Jessica Lautz, NAR’s director of demographics and behavioral insights, said in an email. “Single females are more likely to have both children under the age of 18 in their home and being caring for others as multi-generational home buyers. They may want the financial stability of homeownership in the community where their family can be in the best neighborhood for their needs.”
Nonetheless, the number of first-time buyers continues to dwindle, with those investing in their first home teetering to 33 percent of all buyers in 2018, down from 34 percent in 2017 and 35 percent in 2016, according to the survey results. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun attributed the thinning numbers to low inventory among modestly and lower-priced homes.
“With the lower end of the housing market – smaller, moderately priced homes – seeing the worst of the inventory shortage, first-time home buyers who want to enter the market are having difficulty finding a home they can afford,” Yun said. “Homes were selling in a median of three weeks and multiple offers were a common occurrence, further pushing up home prices.”
While single men purchased half as many homes in 2018 as women, they tended to invest in more expensive abodes, paying a median cost of $215,000 compared to $189,000 for women, according to the survey.
The median age of first-time homebuyers remained flat at 32 years old while the median age of repeat buyers has risen to 55 years old in 2018, from 54 in 2017.
Among younger buyers, 13 percent said saving for a down payment was a significant challenge. Among those, 50 percent said the reason for that was student debt.
“Even with a thriving economy and an abundance of job opportunities in many markets, monthly student loan payments coupled with sky-high rents and rising home prices make it exceedingly difficult for potential buyers to put aside savings for a down payment,” Yun said.