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Single women, financially secure, account for more than twice as many home purchases as single men, minority ownership rising

RISMEDIA, Feb. 13, 2007-(CNNMoney.com)-Changing American demographics and social norms are altering the real estate landscape: The average home buyer is very different compared with buyers of generations past.

The biggest group of home buyers by far is still married couples, accounting for 61% of all homes bought, according to the National Association of Realtors.

But single women now purchase 22% of all homes. Single men account for only 9% of purchases.

Pat Vredevoogd Combs, the president of the National Association of Realtors, says that shows real change. "Thirty-five years ago, when I started out as a Realtor, a single woman couldn't even get a mortgage," she says.

Part of the reason why women have become so big a buying bloc is that more women are single than ever before. The New York Times recently concluded, after an analysis of Census Bureau data, that 51% of all American adult women now live without a spouse.

Women are more financially independent than ever before, too. They account for about 57% of all college graduates, almost the reverse of the ratio of 40 years ago.

All this has changed not only circumstances for women but attitudes as well.

"Women are more confident and financially savvy than ever before," Vredevoogd says. "Plus there are good mortgage products out there that work well for them."

Vredevoogd says women benefit from many of the nontraditional mortgage choices they have today. These include small cash-down loans that enable recent graduates and divorcées, who may not have a big nest egg available, to achieve homeownership sooner.

Minority homeowners on the rise

The generous assortment of mortgage loans has also helped another emerging demographic: minority homeowners, who now account for 30% of all homes bought.

During the 10 years through 2005, homeownership among African Americans grew from 44% to 48%, according to Vredevoogd. Among Hispanics it grew from 43% to 49% and among Asians from 51% to 60%.

All these groups made significant progress toward achieving the level of homeownership of 72% that the nation as a whole enjoys.

Second-home buyers from abroad

One rising group of homeowners that requires little, if any, assistance consists of buyers from abroad. Just as more Americans are buying vacation homes in foreign countries, so are deep-pocketed foreigners buying second homes here.

Janet Branton, the vice president of business specialties for the National Association of Realtors, says overseas buyers made about $41 billion worth of residential real estate purchases in the United States during 2005.

More foreign buyers hail from Germany than any other location. They account for 13% of the total purchases from overseas. Latin Americans are right on their heels, also at 13%. Other countries at the top of the list include Japan and the United Kingdom, both at 10%.

Many of these overseas buyers, Vredevoogd says, acquire vacation properties in resort areas such as South Florida, Palm Springs, Calif., and the ski resorts of the Rockies and Sierra Nevada.

For more information, visit http://realestate.msn.com/Buying/Article2.aspx?cp-documentid=2780623&GT1=9124

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