Emalie Orton bought her first home three years ago in West Jordan, Utah. The 29-year-old nurse decided to buy after figuring it was more cost-effective to own than rent.
“Doing the math, I found out I would be saving money on a month-to-month basis if I purchased a home,” she says. “I’m getting twice as much space than what most people get paying for a two-bedroom apartment. It’s equity you’re making, so financially in the long run, it was going to be a smarter decision.” She hopes to make money when she sells the place one day.
Orton is one of a growing number of single women homebuyers, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. More bachelorettes than bachelors are purchasing homes and the trend is accelerating. That creates new opportunities for home-related merchants and services that want to cater to this group.
Why more women become buyers
Millennial men and women have equal interest in buying versus renting, according to a recent study by Ipsos. NAR research shows that about one-third of new owners from both genders are first-time buyers. Yet female singles (18%) are buying at more than twice the rate of male singles (7%).
A big reason why is likely due to their family situation, says Jessica Lautz, director of demographic and behavioral insights, National Association of Realtors.
Both men and women list a change in their family situation as their second top reason for buying. Desire to own is first for both genders. But “females likely have a larger share of caring for children and aging parents,” says Lautz. She adds that declining marriage rates will likely continue this trend.
What women want – after they move in
After move-in day, women set up housekeeping differently from men. “In our experience, we’ve seen home improvement and hardware retailers moving to embrace female shoppers and make their in-store experience friendlier to them, says Kristy Click, senior VP, U.S. Ipsos. This gender pattern in home-buying creates additional incentive for home improvement and decor sellers to better understand the right product mix and triggers for purchases by female shoppers.”
“It wouldn’t surprise anyone from a consistent, historical standpoint that women are much more concerned about living in organized spaces,” says Click. “Women aim to be in a clean and tidy environment, which is reported to lead to lower levels of depression.”
“As people move from renting to owning, their packaged goods needs change and they typically also have more room for storage,” adds Amy Sizemore, president, U.S. Ipsos Marketing. “That leads to changes in both the types of products they buy and the frequency with which they buy them.”
Calling in the pros
In addition, catering to this single demographic to provide them an easy means of getting their home organized has created a cottage industry of home organization companies. From California Closets to Rachel and Company, professionals to come into the home and help with these tasks for women who don’t have the time or inclination to take on DIY projects. It’s also inspired web content sites like Houzz and P&G Everyday for tips and shopping.
For Orton, her first purchases were from home stores for furniture and then Amazon.com for more furniture and appliances. She also shopped at Bed, Bath and Beyond for kitchen appliances and organizational products.
“There was a practical aspect, like I needed a dining room table and plates and utensils. But I wanted it to buy under my personal preference rather than ‘thanks mom and dad.’” Orton says. Since she had her home custom built, she didn’t need hardware. “But I did get a little toolbox in case anything needed repair or for my art and stuff,” she says. “I could do some little things around my house.”