Why Homebuying Can’t Define A Woman’s Worth

February 20, 2012  |  

Much has changed since the Equal Credit Opportunity Act made gender and marital status discrimination against homebuyers illegal in 1975.  Single woman have been buying homes at increasingly higher rates and the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies reports that single women’s home purchases added up to over $550 billion during a three year period in the early 2000s. These single women who buy homes are divorcees, widows and young, driven professional women who want to show the world that they are ready to invest in themselves and don’t need a significant other to do so. While women empowerment is always a positive thing, a  Wall Street Journal article points out that buying a house may not be the best way to showcase that empowerment.

Marriage rates in the US have reached an all-time low, and it shows in the housing market. The Wall Street Journal reports that 51 percent of households are headed by unmarried adults.

“Buying a home has become a powerful way to pivot from one life stage into another,” Eric Klinenberg, author of the book, “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone,” found in his book.

“It’s a signal, to themselves and those who know them, that they are ready to invest in themselves.”

Despite the lack of a significant other, these women still want part of the American dream, and they are taking their part in cities across the country. In smaller towns it’s the divorced and widowed women who buy up houses on the market. Young adults, from ages 18-34, tend to buy in urban areas such as Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Lost Angeles. This group represents the fastest growing group of homebuyers, with five million people. While the five million does include both men and women, young women are achieving higher income and education across all nationalities.

But just because these women may feel they are financially and emotionally ready to take on the responsibilities of owning a house, doesn’t mean that they should. Buying a house no longer has to stand as a symbol of achievement in society.

In fact, trading out the image of marriage to show that one has reached a new level in society for the image of home ownership is no better for the woman attempting to break away from conventional statuses of achievement. Both are traditional status symbols that need not apply to everyone’s situation.

Home ownership still comes with great risks such as the high cost of immobility, lost investment returns and continuing expenses such as taxes, insurance, repairs, maintenance that can take a financial toll on the owners.

For those of you who still enjoy the greater sense of flexibility, no continuing costs or maintenance responsibilities of home living, perhaps renting is still the best option for you.

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  • Alexian

    Actually, in the USA a house is never truly “yours”. You can pay off the house in full (cash, mortgage, or whatever), but if you decide to stop paying the property tax on it, the govenment can and will eventually take the house away from you. Now in other countries (like Nigeria for example), once you pay for the house it IS yours. They don’t have those kind of taxes there. Though things there might be better if they did (like roads for instance)…

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  • Candacey Doris

    Just because a house isn’t a status symbol doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. Markets rise and fall, there’s no reason to think the housing market won’t. I know people say that the housing market has never been so bad,  but there wasn’t even really a housing market until after the 50’s when houses started to become affordable.Renting or building it yourself was it for awhile. When i can afford a house, i will buy one. Not a huge one, but a house of my own. I can rent it, lease it, or just live in it myself. There are taxes for everything, you need insurance even if you rent, you have to do upkeep on most places you rent as well. The taxes, upkeep, insurance and repairs won’t change the fact that the house would be MINE.

    •  If you are buying a house with cash, then yes it is yours. A mortgage is always going to be a loan regardless of how it is marketed or packaged.

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