The only hope many younger generations have to accumulate wealth is to stay cozy with grandma. Since 1995 (over a decade before the Recession), the median wealth of 25-34 year olds declined 39 percent, while 35-44 year olds declined 27 percent, and 45-54 year olds’ wealth declined 15 percent. There have been potent gains reported from 2013 to 2016, but obviously not nearly enough to offset long-term losses. The main culprits are excessive student loan debt and the decline in homeownership rates. You might say the growth of student loan debt has heavily contributed to lowered homeownership rates. To me, the chart below demonstrates why down payments are harder for younger buyers to save up for.

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Woman Homebuyer

Sure, it’s easier to buy a home when you have a spouse. Dual income households tend to be a no-brainer to some mortgage lenders. But that hasn’t kept all the single ladies from becoming independent women with homes of their own and, of course, bills, bills, bills.

In fact, this segment of real estate consumers has been a survivor of sorts, reporting record growth as the economy digs its way out of a recession. According to a recent study from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, the National Association of Realtors, and the U.S. Census Bureau, single women outpaced single men by a factor of two as new homeowners in 2011. And in that year, 56 percent of single women owned their own home, whereas just 47 percent of single men did.

Here’s a little excerpt from a great story about the topic from the Southern Way of Life blog:

For those skeptical about why a single woman would want to buy a 3 bedroom/2 bath home with a 2-car garage in a master-planned community, Cullinane has a quick rebuttal: “Many single women aren’t buying for themselves.  In fact, a recent AARP survey found that 40 percent of single female home buyers would consider having a non-romantic roommate – maybe a sister, maybe a long-time friend who’s also single.”  A larger home means two sisters or friends can lead separate lives, but not at twice the cost.

“And builders have been onto this trend for awhile now,” Cullinane said. “They’re building what I call ‘women-centric homes,’ or homes that can accommodate changing lifestyles. That’s why I’m a big proponent of something called ‘universal design’ – homes designed with tomorrow in mind.”

Jan Cullinane, a consultant and author of The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement, also sees this demographic as one that will grow as women age, either after divorce or being widowed.

Here’s my question for you ladies: If you were to buy a home without a spouse or partner, what are some features you couldn’t live without?

I’ll go first: I’d put a huge lighted vanity and makeup table in the master bathroom fit for a Hollywood starlet. What about you?