A grand master bedroom to fit a queen-size bed, a full bathroom suite with heated floors, and an open-concept kitchen great for hosting – within walking distance of a bustling neighborhood with cafes, grocery stores and entertainment. Whether they’re building and designing a home or flipping through new listings – women are acutely aware of the features they want in their new home.
Single women homebuyers make up a significant chunk of the real estate market, according to the latest research. Even in the face of low inventory, rising interest rates and steadily increasing home prices, single female homebuyers account for 18 percent of all buyers, according to a 2018 report from the National Association of Realtors, making them the second most common buyer type behind married couples.
Because the home is just for them, single female homebuyers don’t need to compromise with partners or roommates when building their dream home. So what features are single female homebuyers most drawn to in home design?
Here’s a look at six features single women are looking for in their new home.
More Space to Make a Home
Shopping for a new home is an exciting chapter for single female homebuyers, marking the end of roommates, sharing bathrooms, and fighting for closet space. This is a relief for some women – the NAL research suggests 30 percent of single women homebuyers just wanted a place of their own, and another 10 percent wanted a bigger space.
So what are they shopping for precisely?
These savvy homebuyers, don’t want a large house that comes with big bills to furnish and heat. Single women homebuyers are more likely than any other grouping to buy condos over single-family detached homes, and they “overwhelmingly prefer” two-bedroom homes over other buyers, according to statistics from the Joint Centre for Housing Studies.
Single women may be shopping for a grand master bedroom, likely the opposite of their previous cramped quarters. They’re looking for room to live out their busy but fulfilling lifestyles. Space is convenience – they want designated space for their wardrobe so they don’t have to dig through storage, a great kitchen to prep and cook healthy meals instead of buying takeout, and a spare room that can be converted into a study, a workout room, or a guest suite (with extra storage to boot!).
Research even suggests single female homebuyers are drawn to open-concept living spaces. Think of a spacious living room opening up to a fully-equipped kitchen, dining space or a back patio – all great features for hosting and throwing parties.
Location, Location, Location
Single female homebuyers, for the most part, want to maintain an urban lifestyle over the suburban life. Location isn’t something they’re willing to compromise on, according to the JCHS research – they’re looking for a lively neighborhood close to amenities like grocery stores, restaurants and cafes, shopping, and entertainment.
They want homes in the thick of great neighborhoods with brunch spots, yoga classes, and farmers’ markets with fresh produce. They want to get home for work and be able to run their errands with ease.
Time is of importance to busy single women, so living centrally in the city is a no-brainer. They’re willing to trade-off bigger homes for a great location with easy transport links at their doorstep, from the bus to the subway or the highway so they can get to work and plan their social lives without too much commuting.
A Safe Place to Sleep
Across the board, people living alone cite safety and security as their top priority when it comes to selecting a new home. This especially applies to single women. Nobody wants to be looking over their shoulder as they fish out their keys when they get home after a long day.
A major question single women homebuyers ask as they look through floor plans for new builds or walk through open houses is: Would I feel safe living here? They don’t want to be sleeping with one eye open at night any time there’s an unusual sound downstairs.
The JCHS research notes that single women prefer safe neighborhoods and gated access more than any other homebuying group. They prefer apartments and condominiums above ground level for similar safety reasons, too.
Single women like homes in brightly lit neighborhoods, with entrance paths to the front door that are within view by residents living next door or across the street. They’re also shopping for features like drive-in garages with interior access into the house and built-in alarm systems.
Single female homebuyers can do their due diligence by researching potential neighborhoods they’re shopping in. Crime statistics are easily to obtain from the local police precinct, while you can also visit the neighborhood at various times of the day, such as during the morning commute, on the weekends, and at night.
This step could help you gain insight on how you feel walking solo in the area and how busy it is during different times of the day and if people are still out walking their dogs or gardening at dusk.
When it comes to safety features within the home, single women are paying attention to various points of access into the home, such as the windows and doors. Ideally, there aren’t too many entrance points into the home. Check that the windows and doors are solid, with sturdy, robust locks and are in well-lit areas, not hidden away by greenery or in dark places.
Single women can always add extra security features to their homes for peace of mind but they’re better off not shortlisting any homes that have unchangeable features, such as a front door tucked away from the street, a basement entrance from an enclosed backyard or dark paths or staircases leading to the home.
A sensible price point is an incredibly important feature single women are looking for in their new home.
Because they’re relying on a single income to save for a down payment and qualify for a mortgage, a lot of muscle goes into homebuying for single women. Sixty-five percent of women say they’re saving for a down payment for their home, while another 49 percent say they’re consciously working on improving their credit score, according to a Bank of America report.
Despite all of this legwork, single women tend to buy homes with a median price of about $189,000 – the lowest of all household buyer types. They’re looking for starter home prices, not massive mortgages.
Single women homebuyers aren’t looking to break the bank with the purchase of their home. This is a wise decision as they’re accounting for monthly mortgage payments and bills, insurance, property tax and other irregular costs, and anticipating any emergency issues, which may require a dip into a slush fund. The last thing they want is to be house poor, funneling all of their income into their home.
For most people, buying a home is likely the single biggest purchase they’ll make in their lifetimes and it’s an investment for the long haul. Single women may see changes in their lives from getting married and starting a family to moving across the country for a promotion at work.
Regardless of what’s to come, single women are looking for a home that offers flexibility. They’re looking for features, such as whether there’s potential to rent out the spare bedroom, garage space or parking spot for extra income during hard times. They’re also checking the rental market to see if their potential home could be scooped up as a rental in a stitch.
Finally, single women homebuyers want to know that their home can easily sell on the market when it’s time to cash in on their investment, either to move up the property ladder or to move elsewhere, depending on their circumstances.
Single women are looking for features that are built to last in a home – a great layout with reasonably-sized bedrooms, sound foundation and structure, and a convenient location close to great schools and commuter links for other singletons, young couples and single parents.
They’re looking for a home that will offer a high resale value. They could be moving into new housing developments that, in a few years’ time, will turn into a full-fledged community, boosting the home’s value exponentially.
Custom Features Turn a House Into a Home
With the logistics of location, safety and price point out of the way, single women are looking for home features that will make their lives easier. Depending on the woman and her needs, new homes can be customized to feature personal touches, turning a cookie cutter house into a home built for her specific lifestyle.
We’re talking about ensuite laundry so bed linens, towels and work clothes for the week can all be washed while at home, heated floors and towel racks in the bathroom, to state-of-the-art kitchen appliances that include boiling water taps and sensor-activated ovens for quick cooking.
For some home shoppers, these are a luxury, but for single female homebuyers, in some cases, these features are non-negotiable.
For women on the go and leaning towards purchasing a condo, features such as a building concierge who can sign for and accept parcels are a must, while others may love a fully equipped gym and swimming pool to sneak in morning workouts, or a fully decorated recreational and entertainment room to host parties.
It’s also worth noting that some condominiums and townhouse complexes come with maintenance, from garbage pickup to garden work and shoveling the snow. On the other hand, women may want a backyard of their own to hone their green thumb or avoid this space altogether if they want to skip mowing the lawn.
Single women shopping for a home may also look for features like a walk-in closet, an open concept living room or kitchen, and spacious rooms to personalize with floating bookshelves, a kitchen island or, a dining room table to act as a communal focal point. They’re also looking for a balcony or quiet space to enjoy a morning coffee or lazy Sunday afternoon.
The best part of homeownership is that you can make each corner of your home your very own, injecting your own personality and style…and with a single woman, this point is emphasized as she builds the home of her dreams.
Carmen Chai is an award-winning Canadian journalist who has lived and reported from major cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, London and Paris. She started her career in journalism writing about crime and local news for the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper. After that, she covered a variety of subjects from federal politics in Ottawa to the 2015 attacks in Paris. She has also worked as senior health reporter for Global News and as now the Parliamentary Affairs Manager for UK Research and Innovation. For NewHomeSource, Carmen covers a variety of topics, including insurance, mortgages, and more.