Feb 1, 2024 - Real Estate

Single women are winning real estate in Washington state

Share of housing units owned and occupied by single women, 2022
Data: LendingTree; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Single women own more homes than single men, both in Washington state and around the country.

Why it matters: Sixty years ago, women couldn't get a credit card or a mortgage without a male co-signer. Now, the share of single female homeowners eclipses single men.

Zoom in: In Washington, single women owned 11.7% of owner-occupied homes last year, compared to 9.3% for single men, per a LendingTree analysis of census data.

The big picture: Single female mortgage applicants made up 18% of the market in 2023 — a share that's grown since mortgage platform Maxwell started tracking applicants' gender and marital status in 2021.

  • One in three women with partners bought alone because they were in a stronger financial position to do so, Maxwell's annual report on single female homebuyers found.

What they're saying: We're seeing a rise in the number of female homeowners — and a strong shift toward woman-led households, Urban Institute researcher Jung Hyun Choi tells Axios.

By the numbers: In 1990, less than a third of total households (married and single) nationally were headed by women, meaning that women were the primary breadwinners.

  • In 2021, the majority (51%) of households reported being woman-headed.
  • That increase was mostly driven by married households, Choi says.
  • In married households, 43% reported being woman-headed in 2021, compared to just 8% in 1990.

Of note: In most age groups, women outnumber men. "This is more a reflection of strength in numbers than economic vitality," Pew researcher Richard Fry tells Axios.

The other side: Opportunity isn't equal. Single Latina and Black women have the lowest homeownership rates in the U.S.

  • 39% of Latinas who are single and live alone owned a home in 2021, compared to close to 62% of non-Hispanic white women in similar circumstances, Axios' Astrid Galván reports.
  • Single mothers also have low homeownership rates compared to other groups, including single fathers, Choi's research shows.

The intrigue: Maxwell's report shows Gen Zers and millennials made up the largest share of single female mortgage applicants in 2023.


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