MReport September 2020

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12 | M R EP O RT FEATURE "There were a lot of homebuy- ers that ended up getting fore- closed on," she continued. "So, there's some good chance and good likelihood that someone that fell into that situation maybe didn't reenter the market for some time." In regard to NAR's data, which found a greater number of older single women pursuing homebuying, Kim Chamberlain, an associate broker with RE/ MAX-Allegiance in Woodbridge, Virginia, did not see the low per- centage of younger single women as being unusual. "Actually, the millennials are perfectly fine renting," she said. "I see them as wanting little to no maintenance, and they look at a mortgage as maintenance. They look at a homeownership as maintenance. I also believe that millennial student loan debt is a factor, and they are intimidated by the down payments So, I'm finding it is more middle-aged to upper-aged women who may be divorced, either with or without kids, at the peak of their careers who are buying homes." David Aikman, a loan officer with the Fairfax, Virginia branch of Rhode Island-based Embrace Home Loans, also emphasized that a mortgage loan is typically a long-term commitment" and many single millennial women aren't yet financially ready to take that step. "I'm sure that the millennials are starting to enter the market a little bit, but they are definitely not a big piece of the market, and so it doesn't surprise me that the percentage of young, single female homebuyers is low," he said. Lautz discerned that "single female buyers have traditionally always been in their fifties, and we suspect that it's because they could be coming from a past marriage, perhaps being widowed or divorced. While they're not the traditional first-time homebuyers in the market, they seem to be bringing equity from a past home for their down payments." And still, single women are buying homes, with Adams adding that the "benefits for them are too compelling." This is evident in a report issued in January by LendingTree that found single women owned more homes than single men in the nation's 50 largest metropoli- tan areas, with 5.1 million homes owned by single women versus 3.5 million homes owned by their male counterparts. Within the major metro markets, the average difference between the share of homes that single women compared to single men is 3.9%, with Richmond, Virginia, having the largest homeownership gap between the sexes (7.1%, or 22,678 homes) and Las Vegas the small- est gap (1.2%, or more than 5,000 properties). Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist at LendingTree, theorized that the higher level of single female homeowners could be attributed to a need for constancy and steadiness in their lives, especially if the women are raising children on their own. "There are a lot more single parent households that are led by women than they are led by men," he said. "A lot of this could be a lifestyle preference in wanting to get that kind of stabil- ity. Even with married people who have kids gravitate towards homeownership more than people without kids. I just had kids myself this year and all of a sudden I'm like, 'Oh, yeah, maybe it's time to buy a house.'" The Inside Angle T oday's single female homebuy- ers have fans on the other side of the fence: women in the mortgage profession who are rooting for their success in achiev- ing homeownership. Chasity Graff, owner of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based mortgage broker- age LA Lending LLC, admitted to often seeing something of herself in the single women who seek out her guidance in the homebuy- ing process. "I can tell you that as a daughter of a single mom and as a woman who deals with mortgages all the time and as a woman mortgage broker who owns her own busi- ness, that is something that I truly focus on," she said. "Everyone I know in this industry—and there's a lot of women underwrit- ers in this industry—have a huge soft spot for independent women trying to pursue this." Graff stated that she places an emphasis on education when working with her single female clients to ensure they are fully aware of the depth and scope of responsibility that comes with mortgage-bearing homeownership. "It's about educating them on what rental prices are versus what the barriers are for entry on buying a home," she continued. "It involves explaining if 100% pro- grams or down payment options are available that to that specific person." And while Graff stressed that she treats male and female clients equally, she has found that with single female clients she some- times needs to "dig into the edu- cation platform more and remove that stigma and remind them they don't need to be married to purchase a home." Alishea Pipkin, Retail Sales Manager in the Shreveport, Louisiana, office of Planet Home Lending, defined single female homebuyers as a "strong force in today's market," adding she has more single women than single men seeking home loans. "There has been a big growth of single female buyers in the last three years," she said. Pipkin noted that this new wave of buyers can be attributed to society's changing perspective on both homeownership and female empowerment. "I'm a military brat who came from a two-parent household," she recalled. "When I was young, I thought a woman had to be married with a family in order to buy a home. But as I grew up and started learning more about the process, I learned that idea was wrong. But there are a lot of people that feel a woman has to be married and have a split income in order to be able to afford to buy a home. That's just not true. We've been proving it time and time again that a one-person family can buy a home and pay almost the same amount in a mortgage that they will pay in rent." REM/MAX-Allegiance's Chamberlain observed that she finds single female clients more focused and organized when it comes to house hunting. "As far as the women and men clients of mine, the women tend to pretty much have things more together through the loan process "For those managing it alone, it's easy to see how buying a home can seem like an impossibility." —Miki Adams, EVP, CBC Mortgage Agency

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