Woman scrubbing walls | Photo courtesy of Shawn Steen

Single women are besting single men in the homebuying arena, according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors.

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Why single ladies outbuy single men

While millennials seemed to take the spotlight in the NAR’s latest “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends” study, single women are making their own waves.

They gave me my keys to my house and I cried the entire 5-mile drive from the closing office to my apartment. I couldn’t believe it.

They made up 15% of homebuyers in 2015; single men accounted for just 9% of purchases. Married couples constituted the biggest chunk of buyers last year: 67%.

“It seems that many women have the stability and desire to own their own homes as they are not getting married straight out of high school or college as much,” says Pava Leyrer, chief operating officer for Northern Mortgage Services in Grandville, Michigan.

The gap between the shares of single female and male buyers is widest among those ages 51 to 60 (20% versus 10%) and those ages 61 to 69 (19% versus 9%).

“Many in the older group may have lost spouses and are now downsizing or moving to more maintenance-free homes,” Leyrer says, adding that she hasn’t seen many older single men buying homes. “Women seem to be more confident and ready to purchase or explore the possibilities.”

Her ‘tiny little house’

Shawn Steen, 44, had been a longtime renter until she became a first-time homeowner in July 2015.

The single Madison, Wisconsin, resident met with a mortgage lender after her landlord sold the flat she had been renting for several years. She worked with the lender to assess her financial situation and to determine how much house she could afford for roughly the same amount she was paying in rent: $1,000. She had to do a little digging and some compromising, but eventually luck found her.

“It was a tiny little house and when I walked in I got butterflies in my tummy and I knew that was my house,” she says. “And it didn’t matter if it wasn’t in the right neighborhood. I loved that house the moment I walked into the kitchen.”

The final triumph was getting money back on closing day, because she received a grant that covered a larger portion of her closing costs than she was expecting.

“They gave me my keys to my house and I cried the entire 5-mile drive from the closing office to my apartment. I couldn’t believe it.”

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Strong desire for homeownership

Almost a third of buyers (30%) said their main motivation was the desire to own a home of their own. The 2nd-most cited reason in the survey was a desire for a larger home. That was the primary reason for 10% of surveyed homebuyers.

“We have seen an increase in moving up to larger homes mostly within the same type of neighborhoods or better school districts” as children grow and families get larger, Leyrer says.

People in her market have also been motivated by a desire to move into newly built homes.

According to the NAR survey, 2% of buyers gave this reason for buying in 2015.

Most first-time buyers are compelled to own due to a life event, such as getting married or starting a family, says Julie Reynolds, spokeswoman for loanDepot, a lender in Foothill Ranch, California.

Current owners have other reasons

Those who already own often have other motivations for getting a new home loan.

“Current or repeat homebuyers also re-enter the market when they are downsizing, interested in a 2nd or vacation home or expanding their family. Downsizing can be a result of children going off to college, retirement or a reduction in income,” Reynolds says.

Preparation is key

Once you’re at a point when you’re ready to buy, it helps to be prepared. This makes your offer more attractive and your closing run more smoothly, Leyrer says.

“Know what you can do, what you want to do, and how you need to get there,” she says.

And remember to get your paperwork in order, even if you already have a loan preapproval.

“You’ll need proof of income, recent tax returns, bank statements and other supporting documents to close your loan,” Reynolds says.

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