Homeownership remains the most significant way single women can build wealth, and more women than ever are taking advantage.
First American Financial reports that the number of single, female-headed households (including windowed, separated, or divorced) has risen by 1.4 million since 2019.
Of that group, one million are homeowners.
Female homeownership has helped the overall homeownership rate rebound since the Great Recession, with women-headed households surpassing 52% in 2022. That’s up from a post-Great Recession low point in 2016 of 50%.
Single women’s homeownership rate has outstripped men’s by about two percentage points, FirstAm says, putting them in a better long-term financial position. Homeowners have 40 times as much household wealth compared to renters, most of which is held in their houses.
In almost every state, single women are more likely to own a home than single men.
Single women own about 10.76 million homes, about 12.90% of all owner-occupied homes in America, while men own only 8.12 million, 10.06%.
“Women have a very strong preference for homeownership,” Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at NAR, told Bankrate.
“They think it’s a good financial investment. They also are willing to make financial sacrifices. They traditionally have a lower household income, and they’re willing to cut expenses in other areas of their life to achieve homeownership.”
Wealth for single women is largely made up of their housing. Data from 2019, the latest available, shows that 49% of total assets for the average single female-led household came from housing.
The average single woman’s wealth is up by 88% in the last 30 years, proving how potent homeownership can be in wealth-building.
Regardless of their finances, many women report wanting to own a home before finding a spouse.
A Bank of America survey found that 65% of prospective single female homebuyers said they would rather buy a home before marrying, unlike their baby boomer counterparts.
“The trend is reversing,” Kathy Cummings, a senior vice president at Bank of America, told Bankrate. “The message is reversing. You don’t need a man anymore.”
But there are still many roadblocks that make it difficult for women to build wealth through housing. Women pay more to buy homes and make less when they sell, making it difficult to upgrade to more expensive properties with more equity built in.
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