I recently applied for a job as Real Estate Editor for an online women's magazine. The editor did not think a Realtor would be a good hire for the job and is looking elsewhere.
The editor asked me a couple very thought provoking questions and I thought it would be great to blog the question and answer here.
Q: I am wondering if you'd mind giving me your opinion on something though - just out of curiosity. I know you created a group on Maven called Smart Women Own Real Estate. Can you tell me if you believe that is really the case for all smart women? I'm asking because I'm not sure I agree obviously, but also because of everything that has gone on in the past few years. For example - a young professional woman who is single and is not intending to live in a particular home or condo for more than 5 years MAX because of life changes she will go through. Someone who may get married and want to buy a bigger house and need to sell or rent out her current home. Someone who may want to move to a new city for work. Would these women be smart to buy real estate considering how long it takes to sell a home these days and how horrible the rental market is to attempt to keep a property as an investment?
A: First let me be clear: I don't think anyone can make a sweeping generalization about any subject or any demographic without agreeing that not everyone or everything fits neatly into any generalization. Not everyone (or every women in this case) should or can own real estate. That said, it is a fact that the homebuying public is made up of 20% single women. You can double check this statistic from the National Association of Realtors website. In fact, in their studies they found that more women than men lived alone. Among these, women were more likely than men to own their homes (56% vs. 47%).
I will try to respond directly to your comments:
Everything that has gone on in the past few years.We are in the midst of a market correction from extraordinary circumstances. Based on the past few years I wouldn't discount real estate as still being one of the best investments you can make. You can still touch real estate. You can still live in a house. It works for you like no other investment. Your car doesn't appreciate - it depreciates 100% of the time. And stocks can't keep rain off your head unless you're smart enough to buy low, sell high, and then go buy a house (or rent, whichever). At the end of the day, if you own real estate, it's still worth something.
A young professional woman who is single and is not intending to live in a particular home or condo for more than 5 years MAX because of life changes she will go through? The real cost of renting at $800 a month, with an average 6% increase per year is $126,536 over 10 years without ownership. Owners have the advantage of property tax deductions and mortgage interest write-offs. Owners have the benefit of appreciation potential- it's possible to build equity in 5 years. In Philadelphia, the average five-year annualized appreciation is 6% compared with 3.4% nationally. I would add, you don't ALWAYS control when life changes will take place. When I was 18, I knew what I wanted to be when I "grew up" and I intended to be married by 23. I didn't get married until I was 33 and I've changed careers twice since then.
Someone who may get married and want to buy a bigger house and need to sell or rent out her current home. I don't see any reason why this person shouldn't buy if she wanted to. I know women who have had the down payment for their marital home because they bought single. I am currently selling a duplex for a woman who just had a baby and moved in with her fiance. She lived in that duplex virtually rent-free for seven years and will be getting a check for $12,000 when it closes. You can't compare that to renting in the same 7 years. In that time she took out a home equity loan - you can't get a home equity loan from your rental. This is the reason I love to help single women - there's a payoff for owning. I am currently living with my husband and raising my son in the home I bought single. It has appreciated 17% since 2002 even with the market corrections.
Someone who may want to move to a new city for work. It would depend on how long she was planning on staying or how stable her job would be. I don't think I would advise someone to buy if their company was planning on relocating them unless they intend to be a landlord. In fact, I have advised to rent first to see if they even like an area in certain cases.
Would these women be smart to buy real estate considering how long it takes to sell a home these days and how horrible the rental market is to attempt to keep a property as an investment? Philadelphia sale and occupancy rates are much higher than the rest of the country. In fact, Forbes Magazine ranked Philadelphia 4th in best long term housing bets. See: http://www.forbes.com/2008/12/16/cities-ten-homes-forbeslife-cx_mw_1216realestate.html.
Not all women are smart. Not all smart women can own or should own real estate. Not all of the women who own real estate are smart. Men are smart too. Agree, or disagree on the statement "Smart Girls Own Real Estate," it doesn't change the fact that single women do own real estate. Smart girls own real estate just sounds cooler than single women own real estate : )
Join my Smart Girls Own Real Estate Group on MavenMagPhiladelphia.com
www.SmartGirlsOwn.com - The Smart Girl's Guide to Real Estate
www.SmartGirlsOwn.net - Smart Girls Network