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Single women have come a long way in real estate
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And single women tend to be very practical in their requirements, according to statistics with the National Association of Realtors.

When women look for a home, they prize:

Single women, like single men, tend to be "more detached with the analysis" that goes into buying a home, says Phipps.

One for the money
For many women, buying a home is not simply about the shelter. A house is also a chance to get in on a great investment opportunity. For the past five years or so, the national real estate appreciation rate has been about 12 percent, says Stevens. Even though "that's not normal," the 6 percent to 7 percent that real estate agents expect to see over the next few years is a tidy profit for homeowners.

"It's still better than you can do with your money anywhere else," he says.

And many women are taking advantage of the opportunity to have a home and nest egg all in one.

"For a long time now, professional and nonprofessional women acknowledged the value of purchasing real estate as a wealth-building tool and an obvious financial strategy," says Phipps.

But a woman's path to homeownership is not without its challenges.

Single women and men spend about the same for a home, with a median purchase price around $100,000, says Drew. But for single women, that will take a larger chunk of their paycheck.

Forty-three percent of women spend more than 30 percent of their income on their mortgage payments -- a threshold Drew calls "cost-burdened."

Only 30 percent of single men and 25 percent of couples are spending that large a portion of their income on housing.

Doing the homework
The secret to a good buying experience is plenty of research.

Spend a little time online to get an idea of your own budget and what you can afford. Then start shopping neighborhoods.

At some point in the process, start talking with lenders and get prequalified for a mortgage, says Glink.

And don't be afraid to wear out a little shoe leather. "Walk around the neighborhood on your own," she says. While you're there, take notice of the agents who are active in the area.

If you can narrow your search to a couple of areas, "you're ahead of the game," she says. "Homing in on a neighborhood is a plus, and knowing what you can afford is a big plus."

Dana Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.'s corrections policy -- Posted: July 6, 2006
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