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Real Estate Trends: Older, Single Home Buyer

In many cases, success in real estate depends on anticipating demographic changes. There’s been a lot of speculation on how markets will shift as millenials and Gen Z-ers continue to dominate the real estate market. However, this focus on younger demographics can cloud other emerging markets. One trend that’s flown under the radar is the older, single, female home buyer.

Why older, single women are buying property

There isn’t just one key factor that is leading older and single women to purchase properties at an increased rate compared to other demographics. Instead, there are numerous factors that, when combined, have led to the rise of the older single female home buyer.
  1. Women are buying properties as investments. Statistically, women are better investors than men. While men will continue to rent later on in life, whereas women tend to purchase a property.
  2. Women are living longer than men. This means women are living alone toward the end of their lives and as a result are downsizing to a smaller home, more suitable for one or two people.
  3. Alternatively, there has also recently been a rise in multigenerational living situations. This can lead to the opposite of downsizing as older women seek out larger homes, complete with amenities suited for multiple generations.
  4. Although not exclusive to older women, rising rents across the country, especially in metropolitan areas, are leading those who can afford to buy are doing so in increased numbers. In fact, a survey from the Washington Post found that 23% of single women cited increasingly high rent as a reason for buying.
  5. While there’s still a gender pay gap, the past three decades have seen significantly increased average salaries for women. This financial freedom has afforded women to flex their new purchasing power by buying properties.

How is this impacting real estate practices?

Since no two clients are the same, real estate agents should take this into consideration when assessing their needs. Some may want to move closer to family, downsize, cut costs or other variables that will change their expectations when buying a new home.

For example, as people get older, accessibility around the house can become an issue…and accessibility amendments to the home can get very expensive. Mobility within the home should be highlighted when marketing single-story homes to older clients or, if you are marketing a home with multiple floors, emphasize how assistive devices can be integrated seamlessly in a cost-effective manner. Homes within walking distance of essential services such as a post office, a grocery store, etc., will be a good fit as well.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that “since 1981, single women over 55 have been the fastest-growing demographic of home buyers when compared with a multitude of other categories.” It wasn’t long before this in 1974, that a woman could rarely get a home loan without a male co-signer. Female baby boomers who suddenly (or intentionally) find themselves single can take advantage of making their own home buying choices. This means that savvy real estate professionals are scrambling to figure out how they can cater to this emergent buying group. By understanding their motivations for purchasing a home, and their expectations for a new property, you’ll be able to cater to older female homebuyers on a personal level.

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