Americans are increasingly heading into homeownership alone, with the share of homeowners in the U.S. who describe themselves as “single” hitting a record 38.4% in 2018, according to U.S. Census data.
Moreover, around 48.5% of singles aged 18 to 34 owned a home in 2018, the highest number since 2009, USA Today reported.
The main reason for the higher figure is that more Americans are single, experts say. Also, they’re being helped by the strong economy and job market, which are even helping to offset rising home prices.
The share of 18- to 34-year-old Americans who are single reached a record in 2018 at 72.3%.
“People are getting married later in life,” Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist for Haus, a company that partners with individuals to buy homes to reduce their costs, told USA Today. Women are increasingly entering the workforce and are rising to higher-level positions, delaying marriage and having children, he said. Older millennials who were delayed by the Great Recession in 2007 through 2009 also may have delayed marriage to put their careers first.
Then there’s the increasing number of divorcees in the U.S. that account for yet more single homeowners. In 2018, 16.1% of people aged 55 and above were divorced, a record high and well above the 5% recorded in 1980. And in some cases, a divorce can produce two single homeowners, McLaughlin said.
But separating, or never getting married in the first place, doesn’t curb people’s appetite for homeownership.
“Owning a home is a better deal than renting”, McLaughlin told USA Today. He said that homeowners, irrespective of their marriage status, are realizing that and taking the plunge.
Builders are starting to gradually respond by ramping up entry-level homes. From 2015 to 2018, the share of homes less than 2,400 square feet increased to 51% from 47%, according to an analysis from the National Association of Home Builders.
But buying a home solo can pose challenges. The national median home price has increased 54% since 2012. However, the growth in average wages in that time has increased only by 20%, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
Single homeowners tend to be more common in markets that are less expensive. For example, Des Moines, Iowa, tops the nation with nearly a quarter of all young adults who are single homeowners. On the other hand, less than 10% of young people are single homeowners in pricier markets like New York or San Francisco.