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Single women in the home-buying market

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Single women continue to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the housing market. Despite higher prices, soaring interest rates and rising taxes, single women -- divorced, widowed, or never married -- now make up from 10 to 12 percent of the total market. They remain slightly ahead of single men in their desire to put a roof of their own over their heads.

These facts come from the National Association of Realtors in Chicago, which says 2.35 million existing homes and l million new homes were sold in 1981.

The increasing number of single women homeowners today reflects their ability to borrow mortgage money more easily as a result of federal laws passed in 1974 and 1975 to curb sex discrimination in lending and home buying. It also signals the fact that more women have moved into better-paying jobs. It is also far more socially acceptable now for young single women to buy homes of their own, rather than wait around for a husband to make the ownership dual.

A few years ago Ruth Rejnis became one of those single women who put her money down, secured an 83/4 percent mortgage, and moved into her own sturdy 1910 house in a turn-around neighborhood in Hoboken, N.J. She had discovered the area when she was writing real-estate news for The New York Times and had said to herself, ''If I ever get tired of Manhattan, I sure wouldn't mind living in Hoboken.''

In 1975 she got tired of Manhattan, moved to an apartment in Hoboken, just across the Hudson River, and then took two years to search out the right house.

It turned out to be a roomy semi-Victorian that had already been remodeled into two living units and was in good condition. She took over the top floor and rented out the lower apartment, an arrangement that helps her make the mortgage payments and maintain herself as a free-lance writer. It has already proven a good investment.

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