My recent chat with business journalist Jane Hodges about what the realities of buying vs. renting a home look like 2013 continues in this interview. Jane is based in Seattle and has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, MSNBC.com, HGTV’s Frontdoor.com, and Money Magazine among many others. We discussed why way more single women are opting to buy a home solo. Her website is: www.janehodges.net
Francesca: The percentage of single women who bought a home in the past two years is nearly double that of single men. Do men just prefer to rent? Or is there something inherent in a woman that makes her want to buy as opposed to rent?
Jane: In interviews with academics and then anecdotally in interviews with single men and single women buyers, it seems that women want to buy a home both to nest and to lock up their housing expenses. They aren’t afraid to do it without a partner because they derive a certain amount of pleasure from creating and nesting in their place.
Jane: Guys, it seems, come in two flavors when it comes to buying solo:
1) They look at their housing more as an investment, and so they are less concerned with a home that is “cute” than one that “pencils out” and if the numbers aren’t right will not buy.
2) They look at buying a home as a thing you do when you are marrying (or looking to marry), and if they buy a home with a partner they don’t see it as much as an investment (more like a thing you do when raising a family, or because owning will attract a woman).
Francesca: The number of single men I have helped buy a home is quite small. Those I have helped are buying because they have the capital to put down a healthy down payment. If he’s not a first time buyer, he’s now buying because he has retirement funds available or VA benefits he wants to take advantage of.
Jane: Anecdotally, with the whole “walk away” thing, men are way more likely to cut bait on a home that has sunk underwater (because the home is no longer “making sense financially”) than women, who may feel a more emotional and personal connection to the place (even if it no longer “makes sense financially,” nonetheless “this is my home”). So it’s not to say single women are not smart with money, but that they look at the home as serving a different purpose than single men. Again, this is anecdotal.
Francesca: Often I find women are not purchasing based solely on the financial advantages. It is truly a drive to secure her home base. Men conversely are not hard wired to nest first and think about the money aspect second. Often I have to coach my female clients to go over the numbers with her lender and financial advisor to make sure it’s the right financial move for her. Many times it is, but her first priority is approached with the desire to feel good about where she lives. She wants to buy a home she loves and one she can customize to reflect her own style and tastes.
Jane: The percentage of single women buying homes has long been double that of single men (dating back about a decade or more), and I think a mix of things is at work here: Delayed marriage, divorce, and women wanting to exert their own economic power (at least for a little while) before combining it with a partner…
Jane: Oddly, I think women find a guy who has bought his own place more attractive than one who doesn’t own (he can commit! … he has an asset!) while a guy sees a woman who has bought her own place as potentially too independent (she’s given up on partnering! She has chosen spinsterhood! She has more money than me! She doesn’t “need” a man!).
Francesca: All of those reasons a man comes up with are defensive reasons I believe and hit hard at his need to feel powerful. This is not the case for most women I help. They are not concerned about being seen as not wanting to partner or that earning more money is a negative thing. Instead they are expressing their divine feminine power. They are co-creating the life they want to live and feeling powerful about building a solid platform (their home) from which to go out into the world and fulfill their potential.
Francesca: Thanks so much Jane. I trust this might hit some cords with the folks reading it. You can check out Jane’s new book here: RENT vs. OWN, A Real Estate Reality Check for Navigating Booms, Busts, and Bad Advice. She’s gifted at explaining the cold-hard-light-of-day realities of big decisions and with simplifying complex topics, her book won’t tell you what exactly to do but will strongly urge you to think ahead–twice, maybe thrice-before making your next big housing decision.
EnJOY and blessings,