While more and more employers are implementing policies and benefits that are supportive of women, there continue to be substantial economic gender gaps. These economic gender gaps have ramifications throughout all areas of our economy, including the real estate industry.
As a REALTOR of 30 years, it has been fascinating to witness the notable changes for women in homeownership over the last three decades. The 2022 National Association of Realtors Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report revealed 19% of buyers were single females, far outpacing single male buyers (9%). This puts single women as the second largest home-buying group, behind only married couples. Since 1981, single women have purchased more homes than single men every year.
This may feel like great strides for women, but the equality gap is still substantial within home ownership. Did you know that mortgage lending practices continue to charge higher interest rates to women buyers? The Urban Institute reports that single women buyers pay higher mortgage rates than single men, even though women have proven less likely to default on their loan. A recent study by mortgage startup Own Up revealed that women pay a higher rate for their mortgage in 49 of 50 states. Is this just blatant gender discrimination? No. It is part of the compounding economic factors that hold women back financially. These factors then culminate when applying for a mortgage.
The 2022 Allen County Women in the Workplace report shows women are underrepresented in full-time employment and overrepresented in part-time employment. Women make up 50.7% of the Fort Wayne population, but they account for 46.8% of full-time employees and 75.8% of part-time employees. Women are also underrepresented in leadership roles and top salaries in Allen County. Women in Allen County also make up 77.8% of the bottom 10% of salaries. This results in compounding economic challenges for so many women, such as low pay and reduced or no benefits, particularly for part-time workers. All of this may negatively impact a woman’s loan qualifications and may result in her paying a higher mortgage rate.
As professional women, we must be leading advocates for gender economic equity in our workplaces and community. As Melinda Gates said in her book, “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World,” “If you want to lift up humanity, empower women. It is the most comprehensive, pervasive, high leverage investment you can make in human beings.”
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