Home sales study says single-women tend to buy high and sell low

Kristi Bailey 2020 NETAR President

The folks who specialize in marketing and demographics will tell you women are the principal spending influencers, and that will only increase in the future. Women outnumber men in college enrollment and are rapidly increasing their share of advanced degrees. There are more women in the labor force, and more of them are breaking through the glass ceiling.

And at one time, most single female homebuyers were widows, but not anymore. REALTORS® see more young, single women joining the ranks of homeowners. That makes sense. As women increase their buying power, they – like most Americans – tend to invest more in their homes than the stock market. 

But not everything is rainbows and unicorns.

Wage disparity continues to be an issue. Locally a full-time female worker in the Kingsport metro area has a median salary of $33,564 compared to $45,111 for a full-time male worker. It’s not much different in the Johnson metro area. Full-time female workers have a median salary of $32,278 compared to $44,011 for males.

And some new research at the Yale School of Management has opened another facet of gender differences. A review of 50 million housing transactions in CoreLogic’s database found that on average single women pay an average of 2 percent more for their homes than men and sell those homes for 2 percent less. Women are losing about $1,370 a year relative to men because they tend to buy the same house for a higher price then sell for a lower price, according to the Yale study done by Kelly Shue, who teaches finance at the Yale School of Management, and her colleague, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham.

News reports on the study point out that researchers adjusted the findings for education, income, age, income, type of home, ethnicity, and listing agent. But none of that moved the 4-point buy higher and sell lower spread.

What they did find in their drill-down is women buyers were also worse at timing the housing market, and when they gave discounts during negotiations, men got larger discounts.

The researchers turned to the social sciences for some insights. One thing they came up with something called “gender expectations.” In short, that’s the cultural expectation that women are supposed to always be nicer, more generous, thoughtful, and believe that everyone should benefit a transaction.

During a Planet Money interview Shue said single women home buyers need to think like long-term investors “because every time a single woman buys or sells a home, she is likely to lose 2 percent compared to a single man. She and her colleague advised women home buyers to try and think long term, “to become long-term investors.”

 The study is getting increasing attention, so it’s a safe bet that single-women buyers in this year’s marketplace will tend to sharpen up some of those soft edges on gender expectations edge when it comes to buying and selling homes. That goes double for the buyers’ agents who represent them.

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It’s the largest trade association in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region representing over 1,300 members and 100 affiliates involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Pending sales, monthly Trends Reports, and the regional market analytics are available on the NETAR website at https://netar.us/voice-real-estate-northeast-tennessee.

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,600+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at https://netar.us