Number of single people buying homes is on rise

September 19, 1993|By Copley News Service

The number of single individuals buying a home is dramatically increasing, according to several national studies.

"We have experienced a steady increase in the number of individual buyers, men and women, during the past few months," said Barry Moore, owner of Barry Moore & Associates, a medium-size real estate brokerage firm. "In fact, this segment of homebuyers now makes up 15 to 20 percent of transactions we handle."

Cathy Mims, president of a regional Association of Realtors, also reports a notable increase in the number of single buyers.

"Today's single individuals want privacy, space and pride of ownership," Ms. Mims said. "The majority of single-buyer transactions our firm has handled recently are for women."

Nationally, singles are the fastest-growing segment of the population. The increasing number of divorces and people who concentrate on their careers rather than marriage during early adult life contribute to the trend.

And more people are electing to not marry at all.

Also, people are living longer and many elderly people are widowed. These are key factors pushing up the proportion of singles.

Increasingly, those singles want to own their home rather than rent a residence.

And many believe this is the time to buy while mortgage interest rates are low and home values are lower than they have been in recent years.

From 1980 to 1990, the home-ownership rate for singles rose from 45 percent to nearly 50 percent, while the rate fell for all other house hold types, according to a study by the National Association of Home Builders.

"Singles make up a small but growing portion of the home buying market today and will become an even more important part of the market in the future," said NAHB President Roger Glunt. Singles are growing in importance as a market segment because their numbers are increasing.

In 1960, single-person households made up 13 percent of the population. In 1990, their share had increased to 25 percent. It may go as high as 29 percent by the year 2000, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

The homebuilders association divides the singles population into three major submarkets: Elderly widowed over age 64, middle-aged divorced and separated from age 35 to 64, and young never-marrieds under age 35.

Elderly widows are the most likely to own their own homes, but middle-aged singles are catching up, the NAHB study revealed. In fact, from 1980 to 1990, homeownership among the middle-aged singles grew by 10 percent. By 1990, about 50 percent of those singles owned homes. Young singles are least likely to buy a home.

When singles decide to buy a home, they usually select a previously owned residence, as opposed to a newly constructed house. And they are less likely to want a big yard.

They are generally willing to give up some features, like a large living room, for affordability. Also, proximity to work and shopping are more critical to them than to other homebuyers, according to the NAHB study.

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