Impact of changing buyer profiles

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 50% of all American adults live in one-person households. Single-occupied homes by adults is expected to increase and will most likely affect the characteristics of multifamily home and single-family home designs.

Only 37% of adults were single in 1976, and this segment of the population has mushroomed to more than 50% as of August this year. Single Americans now make up the majority of our adult population for the first time. Across the country 25% of home buyers are single, according to the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors, with almost double the number being women (16%) as compared to men (9%) buying homes.

What is also interesting is that out of the total number of home buyers in the United States, 25% are women, and of the total number of households buying homes, 91% have women being the decision makers.

Buyers who are single were challenged by the recession and then by restrictive lending conditions. Unmarried buyers may need more sales support in purchasing a home, as they tend to move more often than married couples. According to the Census Bureau, 12 million people who never married and 3 million divorced people moved between 2012 and 2013, compared to almost 10 million married couples. An important requirement for single buyers is finding a home that can become a rental property if they have to move for job purposes.

Single women are increasingly making more money and are expected to continue to do so in the years ahead. Currently, 60% of college graduates are female who make more than their high school counterparts. Also, for women ages 25 to 35, women’s hourly wages were 93% of a man’s wage, compared to 84% for women of all ages according to the U.S. Department of Education.

It is anticipated that floor plans will change with increasing single-adult households. Homes will become more flexible for more frequent changes in living accommodations (for example, friends buying homes together, adult children living with a parent). Unlike dual-earner couples, single buyers will typically have less income per household, so demand for affordable homes will increase.

Multifamily homes could also attract single-family buyers seeking to have additional income or defray expenses by renting other units. In some cases, housing developments need to address the social needs of singles — for example, party rooms, media rooms, workout areas, and pools.

Single-house buyers typically don’t have the time to renovate homes, and they seek new or updated homes. As equity loans are still difficult to obtain, single-home buyers may have limited financial resources to do so. Many of these buyers are concerned about the cost of utilities and the cost of maintaining a home. Cost-efficient appliances and heating/cooling systems are high-priority requirements for single buyers.

The requirements of a downsizer, entry buyer and single-house buyer often overlap. This means a greater number of buyers are competing for similar properties.

Mary Ann Clark is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker at 189-191 Mason Street in Greenwich. Questions or comments may be emailed to [email protected]

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