All the Single-Ladies...Are Home Buyers?

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Rupert Murdoch's latest ex-wife Wendi Deng won't have to worry about buying a home now that she's single, because her billionaire ex-husband reportedly owns a ranch in Carmel, California, a Beverly Hills estate, a penthouse on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and homes in London and Beijing. For women who've never married or whose divorce settlement doesn't include a home, buying one alone can be a daunting process.

While more than 90% of Americans marry by age fifty, up to 50% of married couples divorce, and single women that are either divorced, never married or widowed make one in five home purchases annually, according to the National Association of Realtors.

"Couples continue to be the largest percentage of home buyers," said Francesca Gianaris, author of the blog Bounty and Bliss: A Woman's Guide to Buying a Home of Her Own. "However, as women delay marriage in pursuit of a career or get divorced, more are realizing the value of owning a home."

As a result of the increasing number of single women buying homes, the real estate industry is changing the way it markets to women. For example, new home builders are designing homes with single women in mind. "Single women prefer smaller spaces with less upkeep and low maintenance," Gianaris said. "Gated communities appeal to single women as do buildings with a concierge and security, which add to her sense of safety and comfort while living alone."

Gianaris herself divorced in 1995 and was forced to re-construct her life as a single mother of two young sons. Today, she owns a home and a thriving real estate business in Gaithersburg, Maryland.