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Single Women Are Being Priced Out of Major Cities

It’s no secret that home prices are rising in nearly every corner of the country, but what does that mean for certain marginalized demographics in their search for a home? Well, according to a new report, single, unmarried women are increasingly being priced out of major cities across the country duly in part to the gender pay gap. 

This news comes to us by way of PropertyShark, a real estate data provider and subsidiary of Yardi, a property management software company. 

Specifically, PropertyShark compared U.S. Census data on the local median income of single men and single women versus the local median sale price of a starter home which was defined as a studio, home, or condominium with one bedroom. To find which cities were no longer affordable for singles, they used the accepted standard of housing not costing any more than 30% of an individual’s monthly income among the top 51 most populous cities. 

As a whole, the study found that since 2017, the number of cities where single man or woman were able to buy a home independently has increased from 14 cities to 22 cities today. Additionally, women are priced out of 12 of the top 51 locations, two more than five years ago. 

This means men can afford to purchase a home in 29 of the 51 most populous cities while women can only do so in 17 of those cities. 

Singles now priced out of 22 of the largest urban centers, eight worse than five years ago 

Again, looking at national figures, single buyers are increasingly being priced out of solo home purchases—especially women. An average single male would have to spend 32% of their monthly income to own a home, while women would have to make significant financial sacrifices due to the fact they have to spend an average of 49% of their income to achieve the same goal. 

“Exploring the differences in singles’ buying power, current figures show that in 22 of the 51 largest U.S. cities by population, people earning the local median income cannot afford to buy a home alone, eight more than just five years ago,” the study said. “Moreover, the percentage of an individual’s income needed to cover monthly mortgage payments has also risen in the majority of the country’s largest urban centers.” 

As a result, of the top 51 cities, an average single person can only afford to buy a home in the bottom 17 cities, down from 26 five years ago. 

Single women can’t afford to buy a home in 34 cities, 10 more than just five years ago 

“While the rapid growth of home prices has affected all single buyers, women overall have been affected at a stronger rate,” the report said. “Specifically, single female buyers were priced out of 24 cities in 2017, but today, women cannot afford to buy independently in 34 cities—12 more than men.” 

PropertyShark notes that some cities, namely Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix; and Tuscon, Arizona; have seen price increases over the past five years which have priced out single women. For example, costs in Houston have nearly doubled in the last five years, going from 32% to 55%. 

Country’s top markets remain highly unaffordable, despite slight downtick in unaffordability pressures 

The New York City real estate market remains the most unaffordable for singles, despite the fact housing costs have eased there slightly in the last five years. 

In 2017, it would cost 94% of a man’s income or 126% of a women’s income to purchase a home in the city. That number has eased down to 88% of a male’s income or 117% of a female’s income to cover the costs for a studio or one-bedroom unit. 

On the West Coast, Los Angeles remains out of reach for male and female buyers again, even though prices have eased over the last five years. 

In 2017, it would cost 81% of a man’s income or 104% of a woman’s income to purchase a home in the city. That number in 2021 was 79% for men and 103% for women. 

Single Women Can Afford to Buy in Just 17 Large Cities, Led by Detroit, Tulsa & OKC 

So where can single women afford to buy? The top five cities are: Detroit, Michigan (10% of monthly payment as percent of income); Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (10%); Tulsa, Oklahoma (10%); Louisville, Kentucky (13%); and Raleigh, North Carolina (17%). 

“For example, Fresno, Calif., is now the only larger California city where women can make a solo purchase, but even here they’re on the edge of unaffordability, spending 28% of their income on the average starter home,” the report said. “In Florida, single women can still afford to buy in Jacksonville, spending 27% of their monthly income, which suggests that they will likely be priced out in the near future. In the Southwest, Albuquerque, New Mexico, (28%) and Mesa, Arizona, (27%) remain the only larger housing markets open to single women, but both have become less affordable since 2017. Meanwhile, Omaha, Nebraska, stayed in affordable territory and Baltimore remained unchanged compared to 2017. 

“Detroit remained the #1 most affordable housing market for both men and women — but costs have risen here too, going from 4% to 11% for women and 10% for men today. Furthermore, Tulsa and Oklahoma City are now the second- and third-most affordable large cities for single buyers, with the share of income needed to cover mortgage costs barely ticking up to 14%.” 

Single women increasingly less likely to buy a home independently as gender housing gap widens 

Overall, PropertyShark says that the gender pay gap is “increasingly burdening” women, who are now priced out of 34 of the top 51 cities compared to 22 of 51 for men. Due to the fact that in seven of the cities that women can afford, their costs are over 25% of their income means they are cities to watch, they are likely to be priced out of those cities soon. 

Click here to see a complete copy of the report, including interactive data table of the top 51 cities. 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected].

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