Recently, we ran a survey of 1,000 single women home buyers to dig into their goals, challenges, intentions, and stories. As a growing force in the marketplace, this segment will only become increasingly vital for mortgage lenders to understand and connect with in meaningful ways. Only by realizing the varied habits and motivations of these women can lenders hope to tailor their outreach, education, and processes to meet their needs and expectations.
Single women home buyers view the mortgage process differently than their male counterparts and are far less likely to trust the lender they work with or be satisfied with their lending experience. The most common reasons for dissatisfaction with the lending process revolve around lack of communication, education, and support from mortgage lending professionals. Perhaps because they seek out additional support and personalized resources, single women applicants are significantly more likely than men to choose a local lender.
A need for education & support
Compared to men, female borrowers feel less educated and self-assured when it comes to the lending process. Nearly 30% report not being confident going into the mortgage experience, and over a quarter don’t trust their loan officer. Both of these metrics are around 10 percentage points higher than single male applicants report. Of those not confident, more than half don’t feel knowledgeable about mortgages or what to expect. Overall, these women rate education on the process as a highly important factor when choosing a lender, second only to competitive rates and loan options.
“I selected my broker because in a sea of lending options, he floated to the top,” says Maxwell VP of Customer Success Amy Jo, who has purchased two homes as a single buyer. “While others could match or even beat him on rates, he was extremely communicative regarding next steps, timelines, costs, and process—and he leveraged available technology to simplify key steps, such as providing required documents. His accurate, prompt replies to my questions were invaluable to earning my trust.”
Mirroring this sentiment, women report that lenders most successfully gain their confidence by:
- Proactively communicating (57%)
- Taking their unique situation into account to present the best loan options (53%)
- Facilitating the lending process quickly and smoothly (51%)
- Forming a personal connection (41%)
“Mortgage can be intimidating,” comments Melissa Langdale, The Mortgage Collaborative President and COO. “Our industry uses lots of terms and acronyms that don’t always make sense to customers. Plus, customers only go through this process every 8-10 years right now. So, they are likely to forget what an LTV or a DTI is. I’d love to see our industry simplify how we communicate to customers so that they receive information that’s really valuable to their decision making and so that they fully understand how a mortgage works. That will take our industry coming together to create content that’s easy to understand and education programs that empower customers to make the best decisions based on their short- and long-term goals.”
Personalized service paired with modern lending technology
More than a third of single women buyers (35%) work with a local lender—far more than the 23% of men who choose this option. Meanwhile, half of women (vs. more than two-thirds of men) choose national banks, while just 15% opt for an online-based lending option.
Data shows that younger generations tend to prefer people-led service paired with technology-powered features within the lending process. Largely identifying as millennials and Gen Zs, women who buy on their own likely seek out a combination of these factors. Notably, women surveyed rate “a technology-forward experience, with the ability to move the process along from your phone” as a top consideration when selecting a lender.
Regarding the borrower experience of her lending process, Emily Ward, Maxwell Director of Marketing and a home buyer who purchased on her own, comments, “I was able to complete the entire online application within 30 minutes.” Still, well-functioning technology is only part of the reason Emily was satisfied with her lender: “I’m so glad I worked with the credit union I chose because they treated me like a person. Those I worked with had my best interests at heart, and the service I received made all the difference.”
An opportunity to serve today’s rising home buyers
Despite making strides, women continue to confront obstacles to homeownership, especially when applying as single applicants. A third of female borrowers who purchase on their own report encountering bias, and nearly twice as many women as men say they’re unhappy with the lending process they experienced (18% of women vs. 11% of men).
“As cultural norms continue to shift and single women challenge conventional gender roles, we’ll see them accelerate as a force in the housing market,” says Amy Jo. “Lenders who want to connect with the next generation of borrowers and facilitate homeownership in the communities they serve will be wise to cater to this rising segment.”
Get your free copy of our Single Women Home Buyer Report
Want exclusive data on one of the fastest growing segments in today’s market? Access our report to learn:
- The reasons single women home buyers are growing faster than their male counterparts to now represent 22% of the market
- How this determined group is finding ways to get on the property ladder despite fluctuating interest rates, inventory challenges, and long-standing beliefs that marriage is a prerequisite for a mortgage
- The interesting demographic makeup of these buyers, of which 39% identify as Black, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, or multiracial—compared to 21% of men
- The lending preferences of this group
Download your copy to learn how to earn the business of this important borrower group.
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