Homeownership is Up Among Single Women. Could Targeted Financial Literacy be Why?

As featured in RealtorMag's The YPN Lounge.  

Recent data from well-known online mortgage marketplace has some wondering: Why might single women be buying more homes than single men?


 

Well, to better answer that question, it is important to examine a little history to figure out how we got here. As Women’s History Month quickly approaches, this is as good a time as ever to take an abridged hop into our DeLorean (fun sidebar: in my live workshops, I show this movie scene for fans of the 1980s) to go back before going to the future.

 

For starters, women had little access to wealth-building opportunities of their own accord. Nearly everything they did had to be approved or cosigned, by a man. Let’s dig in…

A Little History Lesson

Do you know what the following years signify?

1972

1988

These are the first years in U.S. history that women had the right to credit without a male co-signer, the former for a personal line of credit and the latter for a business line of credit.

Did you catch that? Technically a small percentage of  millennial women represent the first generation of women born with full rights to credit.

I am considered an “elder” or “geriatric” millennial, born pre-1988; thus, I (like every female older than me) was not born with the right to a business line of credit without a male signor. Le sigh!

2001

This date signifies that despite access to financial decision-making that they did not have before, women still struggled at the turn of the century to realize those rights. One key example is  Sheila Johnson. The founder of the Black Entertainment Network (BET) was the first African American billionaire ever. She achieved billionaire status in 2001, after she and her husband sold BET to television conglomerate, Viacom. Unbelievably, she was still denied quality customer service by several bank staffers who preferred to interact with her ex-husband (who was not an account signee). She promptly took her billion to another bank that would respect her single-woman status (fun sidebar: my women’s book club had a time, feeling every type of emotion, reading Johnson’s mind-boggling memoir!).

Concurrently in the early 200os, I had just graduated college (Go Blue!). Shortly after graduation, I became a homeowner, real estate investor and then eventually a real estate agent, managing broker and instructor.

Mostly because my dear dad did not subscribe to gender norms, I had access to resources and information to guide and direct me toward homeownership and investing, and I realize now that this wasn’t—and in many cases still isn’t—the norm, so it wasn't surprising to me when I got into the industry and heard things like: "I didn't know I could buy a house without a man.”

Wow! I still clutch my pearls. Clearly, the news (that ding-dong the witch of needing a co-signer just for being female was dead) needed to spread further!

“The Talk”: Staying Physically Safe While Renting as a Woman

Buying a home is not just an investment vehicle. For some women, it may mean physical safety and literally life or death like this and this.

Not all instances of renting are horrifying, but there are enough incidents (note: one is too many) that when I rented my first apartment as a recent college grad, both my parents and the apartment staff gave me “the talk” about which apartments were safe for women and which were not. For example, I was advised that being in a well-lit part of the complex, and preferably on an upper floor rather than a ground floor was safer for me as a woman. Likewise, I was also counseled to be alert (ahem… not gabbing on my cell phone) at all times and to carry my keys in my hand as a defense mechanism.

As much as I’d like to say that safety for single women is a thing of the past and that the conversations had with me many years ago no longer apply, I can’t, because women are still facing safety issues when it comes to housing. To draw attention to these harrowing cases, over simply the last year, I have been intentional about sharing un-fair housing settlements that have put women’s safety at risk like this and this. Notice that I am sharing current events and judgments, not ancient history from the last millennium.

At alarmingly high rates (note: again, happening once is too high), women face incidents of unfair housing (such as sexual harassment and retaliation) for turning down “suitors” who work at or own rental housing.

Personally, becoming a homeowner freed me from the fear of maintenance workers freely entering my apartment unannounced (since they had keys), which in several of the cases I have been highlighting over the last year is a common fair housing (and personal) violation.

Motto 77: “(S)he who learns, teaches.” —Ethiopian proverb

Serving both as an investor (some were shocked that as a twenty-something, I not only was a homeowner but also owned an apartment building) and as an educator, I have worked for the last 20 years to help empower all people—however, women gravitate to me the most—to invest in and broker real estate, even with its ups and downs (like unfair housing).

And, it was not just me. As I interact with various women’s councils across the nation and notice all of the women-focused platforms (from OGs like Suze Orman to IG influencers like Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche), it is obvious my journey represents a multiverse of female educators who are guiding the first generation of women who have full rights to credit.

It stands as a testament to the power of education and access that the younger generations of women have come of age with the knowledge they need and the earning power required to purchase homes in record numbers.

Even this spin on Rapunzel using her long hair to become an entrepreneur is telling and affirming of today’s savvy, single-lady, homeownership trends.

Financial education aimed at women is at an all-time high… sorry guy friends! As one real estate professional to another, remember that women make up half the population and deserve equal access to homeownership as well. If you have single women in your network, make sure they know your options, which means its imperative that you do your homework as well!



Have you ever needed the “Cliff Notes” version of fair housing? Well, move over Spark Notes!

The Starting Point: How to Be a Fair Housing DECODER Guide https://books.bookfunnel.com/learnwithdrlee


It is available to download for a limited time at no fee. Score!

This condensed workbook (based on the nationally acclaimed workshop) offers Dr. Lee's novel concept of being a Fair Housing DECODER© who skillfully and proactively advocates --not alienates-- for equitable access and opportunity in real estate for EVERYONE.

“Interesting approach on the topic of fair housing that I have not seen offered to Realtors.” --Maria, Broker/Owner, REALTOR® 

I have the Realtor GRI designation and they should make this part of that designation. This is THAT good. THANKS, Dr. Lee!” --Michael, Broker/Owner, REALTOR®

Hurry, download (and share with others) today while complimentary supplies last!



Sound off - I would love to hear from you!  Give me a shout on Instagram and YouTube. Or, get your "training on" with these on-demand classes.  Here's to your success! #LearnWithDrLee

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