The gender gap in homeownership has been a long-standing issue, with single men being more likely to own a home than single women. However, recent years saw the gap narrow, nearly closing in 2021, according to a Zillow analysis. Unfortunately, the gap widened again last year, highlighting the challenges that single women face when buying a home.
In 2016, the homeownership rate for young single women was just 19.4%, while it was 29.6% for young single men, representing a gap of 10.1 percentage points. However, as more women joined the workforce in the next five years, the gap reduced, and record-high homeownership rates for single women were witnessed in 2020. By 2021, the gap had considerably shrunk to just 1.8 percentage points.
The pandemic affected single women disproportionately, with many leaving their jobs to take on caregiving responsibilities when childcare and eldercare options were limited. Additionally, women still earn significantly less than men, making it harder for them to afford homeownership. As a result, the homeownership rate for single women dropped to 24.5% in 2022, erasing almost half of the gains made since 2016. In contrast, the homeownership rate for single men increased to 33.1%.
Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Detroit are the cities where single women can find the highest share of affordable home listings. Single women in Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Raleigh have a good chance of competing with single men in the home-buying market. Unfortunately, the housing affordability gap between single men and women is most severe in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Jacksonville, and New Orleans, with single women able to afford less than 70% of the homes that single men can afford.
To achieve homeownership, single women may need to consider creative solutions, such as obtaining a second job or doubling up with a roommate. The road to affordable homeownership remains an uphill battle, particularly with rising and volatile mortgage rates. However, it is crucial to keep striving towards this goal and closing the gender gap in homeownership.