We rolled our eyes a few months ago when the New York Times broke the news that women were spending more money on things -- specifically things thought of as "men's stuff" like electronics and cars. This week, Christine Haughney shifts the spending spotlight to real estate, proclaiming that women are, as the Times coyly puts it, increasingly "unafraid of condo commitment."
It seems that, particularly in Brooklyn, single New York women are slapping down their deposits at a noticeably faster rate than single men; single guys place third, after married couples, in the ranking of condo purchasers. According to the National Association of Realtors, last year 22 percent of America's home buyers were single women, compared with 14 percent in 1995. Even married women are -- gasp -- using their own checkbooks more and more. David Walentas, a Brooklyn developer cited in the article, can scarcely believe it: "It's not like a dual account -- Joe and Suzy. It's Suzy," he says. "I'm amazed." Amazed!
As for the impetus behind the surge in female real estate consumption, the Times explains that when it comes to big decisions, "word of mouth kind of seals the deal" for women and that they often move into the same building as their girlfriends, thinking of "buying in a declining market as another stage of friendship." Another real estate agent (female, by the way) offers the theory that women might "see the bigger picture" by viewing real estate as an investment, while men tend to look for the best deal.
In any case, the argument that women follow their girlfriends while men stand on their own two feet seems a little thin. If I were a woman making upwards of six figures a year, I'd buy a condo, too. And if I happened to have other rich friends I could move near, even better. Excuse me for simplifying, but couldn't more single women buying apartments -- not to mention the "word of mouth" theory -- just indicate the existence of more successful single women? If so, the Times article sheds light on a promising pattern: independent women making more money, and taking their futures, and mortgages, into their own hands.