Single Women Home Buyers: Key to the Housing Recovery?

Looking to sell your home? Make sure you don't overlook single women as potential buyers. A recent National Association of Realtors report found that single women outdistanced unmarried men when it came to buying real estate in 2009.

Unmarried women made 21 percent of home purchases, while single guys made up 10 percent of the buyers. According to the research, single females also made up a quarter of first time-home buyers.
This wasn't always the case. In 1995, single women represented only 14 percent of home buyers. But in recent years, they have raced ahead of their male counterparts in snapping up real estate.

"More women are educated," says Lisa Lauricella, a licensed associate broker with Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty in Syosset, N.Y. "They are climbing up corporate ladders. They are getting married later and think it's a financial decision." The study backs her up. Single women buyers tend to be a little older than the average home buyer; their typical age is 41, compared to 39 for all home buyers. Perhaps these savvy shoppers can save the housing market.

Not all single women buyers are living the "Sex and the City" lifestyle, of course.

The NAR sales numbers also include divorced moms and retirees. But many women buyers have a few things in common. Women buyers tend to do a little more digging into potential purchases and ask more detailed questions about the homes they view than male customers, say brokers.

"They research everything from the school system to road noise to everything about the house," says Judi Desiderio, president of Hamptons, N.Y.-based Town and Country Real Estate. "They are very analytical, very methodical. Men buy the value of it, the resale value, the rental value. They tend to make decisions more quickly."

Female home buyers who will be living alone tend to be concerned about crime, so when marketing your house, be prepared to answer questions about that, too. "They are more conscientious as to where the home is located," says Rosanne Brooks, a licensed associate broker with developer Sterling Properties, which sells homes in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. "They want to be safe and secure."
If you're trying to attract single women as buyers and need to do upgrades, pay careful attention to the quality of the kitchen and bathroom, which brokers say tend to carry a lot of weight. "They want to make it a home," says Lauricella. At the same time, amenities like maintenance-help can be a big draw. "They tend not to want to do fixing," says Lauricella.

Many women also like proximity to shopping and fitness centers, she says.

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that single women who can afford to buy their own homes tend to gravitate toward other aspects of the good life, too. As educated consumers, they might also be some of the best at spotting the bargains that must be snapped up soon to spur a housing recovery.
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