Today’s “Ask the Expert” column features Kathy Cummings, Senior Vice President, Consumer Education and Consulting Executive for Bank of America Home Loans.
Q: What are the most important tips for real estate professionals to keep in mind in order to successfully capture single female clients?
A: Looking for untapped opportunities to grow your business? The single female homebuyer segment represents excellent potential for real estate professionals.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 data, there were about 105 million unmarried adults—age 18 or over—living in America. Of that, 53 percent are women (never married, widowed or divorced). Do the math: That’s a market segment 55.65 million strong.
Of course, not all of these women are in the pool of potential homebuyers. But take a look around your local market and you might be surprised by how many single ladies need your expertise. So, how can you capture your share of single female clients?
Set Aside Preconceived Notions
No one likes to be stereotyped. Single women are no exception. Here are some tips for real estate professionals to keep in mind.
Do: Spend time getting to know the client so that you can show the properties that fit her unique needs. Not only is it more efficient and productive, it helps to ensure satisfied clients who will eagerly send referrals your way.
Don’t: Assume in advance what property type a prospective buyer prefers. The idea that single female buyers only want to purchase condos, townhouses or other low-maintenance properties is based on outdated gender roles. Some women are not interested in DIY home repairs, however, others find satisfaction in looking after the maintenance and other chores.
Do: Encourage your single homebuyer to talk with a mortgage loan professional at the earliest possible time. There are plenty of home financing options available to qualified borrowers of all types.
Don’t: Assume a single woman cannot afford to buy a home, or can only afford lower-priced homes. The wage gap between men and women has narrowed, particularly among 25 – 34-year-olds. In fact, a 2014 Pew Research Center study noted that “in 2012, among workers ages 25 to 34, women’s hourly earnings were 93 percent those of men. In 1980, the ratio was less than 70 percent.”
Do: Share resources that help single women understand the home-buying process, including the steps involved in the home loan process. Many individuals crave information and pride themselves on being in control of their financial lives. Some organizations, like Bank of America, offer step-by-step tools and resources that can help inform and guide prospective buyers.
Don’t: Assume that single female homebuyers want or need oversimplified explanations. According to Pew Research, one-third of never-married women ages 25 and older have either a bachelor’s or advanced degree, with similar figures among women who were previously married, but now divorced or widowed.
Before the Fair Lending laws were passed in the 1960s, the single female homebuyer market segment was virtually non-existent. Today, the group represents 16 percent of all homebuyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
No doubt, we’ve come a long way. So seize the opportunity and grow your business by expanding and cultivating your relationships with prospective single female buyers.
For more information, visit www.bankofamerica.com.