Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Single Women Buy A Home For More Than An Investment
A report outlines that on average, when it comes to the purchase of residential real estate, men are entirely useless. (The report doesn’t specifically say so, but that’s the gist of it).
I most definitely would not want to come across as a slimy, double-tongued and venomous rattlesnake, but those of us who have grown old in residential real estate sales are fully aware of the fact that, in this business, men are good for one thing and one thing only: to autograph a deposit check. So much so, in fact, that when I used to work for United Realty on Kingsway (that was last century), I knew an agent who emphatically refused to speak to hubbies during showings – even during listing presentations. He totally ignored them. And he was, and still is, one of the top producers in the industry.
Hubbies invariably have this peculiarity of standing in the way during showings. Sometimes we even have to waive them aside, to allow wives to engage into the metaphysical contemplation of, well … draperies, or to stand in front of the kitchen stove and fantasize out loud on the forthcoming culinary delicacies they will be preparing, and subsequently dishing out to their loved halves. Which is, incidentally, the part of showings I enjoy the most: to watch hubbies running down the stairs screaming in horror and pulling out hair. No wonder men do not live nearly as long as women: the ladies do not eat what they cook – but I digress.
So, therefore, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has now discovered the obvious, that is women (single, married, divorced and widowed) control a whopping 85 percent of all home purchase decisions, thus giving an entirely new meaning to the old, and otherwise sexist, saying that ‘a woman’s place is in the home’. In fact, even the other belief that ‘men always have the power and the money’ seems to have become somewhat – shall we say – passé …
CMHC further details that women buy at a faster rate than the general population, and that single women are twice as likely as single men to buy a home. This report mirrors another study, conducted in 2005 by the National Association of Realtors, which outlined that 21 percent of all homes were bought by single women. That was up from 18 percent in 2004 - and despite the fact that women still earn only 76 cents on the dollar that men earn. In comparison, American single men accounted for only 9 percent of home purchases last year. No data is available for Canadian single men – which is not to say that Canadian single men accounted for zero percent of home purchases last year. However, on a second look, the absence of any statistical data is probably an indication that Canadian single men did not exactly corner the market in 2005 ...
When it comes to have, as Virginia Woolf put it, "a room of one's own", there are dozens of stories that come across the wire about single women snapping up real estate. Realizing that there is no need to wait for a man before they allow themselves the pleasure of a room of their own, unmarried women are buying homes in record numbers. Why the disparity between single women and single men, when it comes to taking the plunge? The New York Times recently devoted a lot of ink to trying to figure that one out, but its findings can be boiled down to the following:
1) women care about homes more than men, who think more of them as a place to sleep, a crash pad and
2) women want to feel that wherever they are bears their imprint, whereas men could not care less.
Going back to CMHC, the report interestingly highlights the fact that, when single women go house hunting, it is not always for the same reasons that couples do. More specifically, single ladies are looking for more than a good investment to build equity for their retirement. There are three factors, in fact, that distinguish single women buyers from couples: they focus more on location, security and low maintenance.
Younger single women tend to buy in the heart of downtown, for social reasons. They want a vibrant urban community with amenities right there. They do not want to commute a long distance to the suburbs. On the other hand, women of all ages will buy a home they are not in love with, for family reasons. Perhaps the home is not exactly what they want, but it is close to a great school where their children will thrive, or close to a grandparent who can provide daycare.
Safety and security
These are key issues for single ladies. Even if they can afford to buy a single-family detached unit, many will opt to buy an apartment or town-home because they perceive this style of housing as safer and more secure. Certain types of multi-family living have a better sense of neighbourliness, and for many living in a town-home feels more secure than a single-family home on a large lot.
There is no question that women, as a whole, are embracing home repair and maintenance. Fully 50 percent of purchases at Home Depot are now made by women, but young ladies are still more likely to look for a home that promises low maintenance. One great advantage of low-maintenance housing is that it frees up time for other activities.
Obviously, those who are most interested in reports of this type are residential and mixed-use developers and home-builders, whose main goal is invariably to try to offer homebuyers everything they need, and most of what they want, for a price they can afford.
Real Estate Chronicle