How women are changing the future of real estate

Key takeaways

  • Women’s influence on all purchase decisions, including a home, outweighs men’s influence.
  • Every year since 1981, single women have represented more homebuyers than single men.
  • 62% of REALTORS® are female.
  • Numerous women lead brokerages, top MLS providers, mortgage companies and real estate associations.

When you look at the real estate industry and home buying and selling transactions, you will likely see many women at the table. Women dominate as real estate agents and buyers, and many are mortgage lenders and title attorneys.

While women have been real estate agents since the founding of the National Association of REALTORS® it wasn’t until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed in 1974 that women could finally take out a mortgage without a male cosigner. Progress on the gender gap in wages has been made over time, but as of 2023, American women who work full-time are paid an average of 83.7 percent as much as men, which amounts to a difference of $10,000 per year, according to the Department of Labor. Even so, single women manage to buy more homes than men.

While women continue to make less income on average than men, they have an outsized influence on buying, driving an estimated 70% to 80% of all decisions through their influence and purchasing power. By 2028, women will be responsible for 75% of all discretionary spending worldwide, according to 2020 research by Nielsen.

Women have always been highly influential in the housing market, whether as CEOs of major companies, single female homebuyers, real estate agents leading transactions, or the person most responsible for buying decisions. That's a trend that is anticipated to grow.

Single women homebuyers and owners

Every year since 1981, the National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers has shown that single women are always the second largest demographic of buyers after couples. In 2023, 19% of buyers were single women, while just 9% were single men. This phenomenon stands out because, on average, women still earn less than men. NAR's research found that first-time single women buyers had an average income of $69,600, compared to an average income of $83,800 for first-time single men buyers. First-time single female buyers have an average age of 38, compared to 33 for men, which may indicate that it takes women longer to save for a home.

According to NAR, single female homebuyers are more likely to have children under age 18 than single male buyers, and women are more likely to buy a multigenerational home than men.

Yet among single heads of households, there are significantly more single women – 58% – than single-men homeowners today. Throughout the U.S., single women own 10.95 million homes, while single men own 8.24 million, according to Lending Tree research.

Top women in real estate

The Women’s Council of REALTORS®, founded in 1938 as part of the National Association of REALTORS®, has always championed female real estate agents, even when they were in the minority. Today, 62% of REALTORS® are women, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2023 Member Profile. Women are increasingly emerging in leadership positions within the industry. NAR has had eight female presidents, and its interim CEO, Nykia Wright, is female.

Examples of top women leaders of real estate brokerages include:

  • Lacey Conway, CEO and president of Latter & Blum, the largest independent residential brokerage firm in the Gulf South region.
  • Jill Jacobi Wood, co-president of Windermere Real Estate, the largest regional real estate company in the western U.S.
  • Christina Pappa, CEO of The Keyes Company, the largest independent family-owned real estate brokerage in Florida.
  • Helen Hanna Casey, CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the nation's largest independent real estate company.
  • Sue Yannacone, CEO and president of Anywhere Brands, the largest group of real estate brokerage brands in the world, including Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s International Realty, Century 21, ERA, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and Corcoran Group.

Female leaders fill top positions with mortgage lending firms, associations and MLSs.

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