Single Women make up approximately 17% of first time home ownership in America.
How far have we really come?
Last night while watching Anthony Bourdain (RIP) Parts Unknown Bhutan. I learned in Bhutan single women and married women are the heads of family. For thousands of years, daughters are beneficiaries of inheritance over sons in this Buddhist nation nestled in the Himalayan mountains. </p
While in the US, until the mid 1900’s a woman’s right to own property in her own name varied from State to State. We had a legal right to live where we please, providing we remained unmarried.
Single women, including widows were called “femes soles” meaning “woman alone.”
In addition they granted us the right to support ourselves in any occupation that did not require a license or a college degree restricted to men.
Marriage changed women’s legal status dramatically. When women married, as the majority did, they still had legal rights but no longer had autonomy. Instead, they found themselves in positions of near total dependency on their husbands under the law called coverture.
So long as she remains single, women can enter into contracts, buy and sell real estate, or accumulate personal property, called personalty.
Let’s get real, prior to the 1970’s women did not remain single. Women were required to marry and often even bartered or sold into marriage for higher status and pedigree. We are taught to please our parents and groomed to please men.
What changed for Women?
In 1839 Mississippi enacted the marriage property act 1839 intended to protect the property women obtained through gift or inheritance against irresponsible husbands and their creditors.
During the civil war men were gone for long stretches of time. Plagued by deserters, they would also go missing never to be found. This left women alone with no authority to enter into contracts.
After the panic of 1937 the States began to recognize women needed protection under the law for inheritance however it left coverture largely untouched.
A state constitutional convention in 1846 passed a reform of women’s property rights, but three days after voting for it, the delegates to the conventions reversed their position.
The New York battle for the 1848 statue to preserve married women’s rights to control property. Became important to the suffragette movement. Described “to emancipate wives from the slavery of the old common law of England, and to secure to them equal property rights.”
Single women have been largely discriminated against socially and legislatively in the United States.
It wasn’t until 1974 Congress passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act that single women could even obtain a mortgage loan. Remember the Sex and the City episode where Cynthia Nixon’s character Miranda buys her first condo?
It was 1999 and Miranda; a Harvard graduate Attorney desperate to become partner in her firm, goes condo shopping. Decked out in her manliest man suit, she declares, “I’ll take it.” and begins the buying process.
Later we see her in the mortgage brokers office decorated with huge portraits of old white men. She signs the paperwork as he asks, “It’s just you?” Miranda answers “Just me.” He tells her to check a box that says “single woman.”
Then in a most definitively #metoo sexist moment he asks “…And the down payment is coming from your father?” Miranda bites her tongue and replies, “No…just me.” He condescends by telling her again to “Check the single woman box.”
How far have single women come since 1999?
Today there are 110.6 million unmarried people in the United States. That’s 45.2 percent of all United States residents ages 18 and older including never married, widowed, divorced and cohabiting.
Of which single women, make up 53.2 and are more likely to be homeowners, according to United States Census Bureau.
More than one in five home buyers is a single woman.
Twice as many unmarried women are buying homes than single men.
Single women make up more than one-third of the growth in real estate ownership since 1994.
Single and married Women alike have become fully engaged in real estate ownership. From first time home buying to investments, we are realizing that property isn’t just a man’s game.
Although the majority of my investors and developers are still men, women have shown piqued interest. They ask me questions about long term real estate investment strategy. Looking into financial options to acquire property and becoming landlord’s.
Building a real estate portfolio to secure a future is the best thing you can do for your children and heirs. I always advise my clients to think long term. When you can provide home ownership and investment as single women for your family, you provide security.
Regardless of which way the market moves and how fast or slow, a long term strategy for real estate holding is a sound investment.
If you’d like to know more about home ownership feel free to email me email@example.com