How Do Single Female Buyers Differ From Other Homebuyers?

Jennifer Rzeszewski

01/20/21

Each year, when the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) research team releases its annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report, brokers have an exceptional opportunity to gain valuable market insights. What stories can the data tell us, and how can the research help agents be more effective in serving homebuyers?

Single female homebuyers have represented the second-largest group of buyers by adult household composition since this report was first released in 1981. In 2020, single females were 18 percent of all buyers, compared to married couples (62 percent), single males (9 percent), unmarried couples (9 percent) and “other” (2 percent).
How do single females’ experiences differ from other types of homebuyers? There are at least seven areas worth noting:

1. Type of home purchased. Like all buyers, single females were most likely to purchase a detached, single-family property. However, single females were twice as likely to buy a townhouse or row house (14 percent versus 7 percent) compared to all buyers.

2. Size and cost of the home. Among all buyer categories, single females purchased the least expensive homes ($210,000) and the smallest homes (median of 1,590 square feet), likely reflecting the income and affordability challenges that single females face compared to other types of homebuyers.

3. What prompted their move? Significant life changes are the top driver of all recent homebuyers’ purchases, cited by 27 percent of buyers. This factor was substantially more pronounced for single females; 37 percent of respondents said it was their No. 1 reason for moving.

4. How they found their agent. Referrals were the most common way all buyers found their agent (40 percent), but it played a larger role for female buyers. Forty-five percent of single females relied on referrals from friends, neighbors or relatives.

5. Factors influencing the choice of neighborhood. Convenience to friends and family was more important to single females than to any other household group.

6. The importance of technology. Slightly more than any other group, single females placed a high priority on their agent’s technology skills; 48 percent rated this very important versus 45 percent for all buyers.

7. The impact of COVID-19. More than any other group, the pandemic’s onset put a dent in home-buying activity among single females. Single females represented 18 percent of all buyers before March 2020, but only 14 percent after April 2020.

Data plays a valuable role in understanding buyers and elevating agents’ buyer representation skills. 

This article first appeared in Real Estate magazine’s special-edition Women in Real Estate issue. View the entire issue here.

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