City Paper is not for tourists
Friday’s Examiner took note of an interesting statistic: According to the National Association of Realtors, single women account for 21 percent of all home sales, while single men account for half that. In her lede, author Marilyn Kennedy Melia—who is bylined as a staff writer but appears to be syndicated through www.bankrate.com—finds it remarkable that women are making financial decisions all by themselves:
Buying a home today takes a certain confidence — in the market and in your own financial strength. A lot of single female homebuyers are taking that bold step in high heels, with no one at their side.
The article, billed “Tips for Female Homebuyers,” then asserts that “experts say female homebuyers share characteristics and concerns that set them apart from male buyers.” But no specific examples are given by way of proving that women actually want anything different out of their home purchase than men. The only other significant statistic offered is one from 2006, when the Consumer Federation of America found that women were more often targets of subprime lending than men. Melia then proceeds to quote realtors and consultants giving advice that would be equally useful to men, such as the virtues of diversification, and buying a home as a long-term investment.
So, with no evidence of why women have different concerns or priorities than men, the reader is forced to conclude that by female “characteristics…that set them apart,” Melia just means that women are weak-minded rubes who must be patronizingly tutored in the basics of homebuying so as not to be ripped off. Her sources think as much as well:
[Consumer Federation of America official Barry] Zigas worries that mortgage lenders may not provide women with all loan information and options because of stereotypes about women’s alleged lack of financial sophistication.
“Have the loan officer lay out all the options,” he says.
Check rates with several mortgage lenders, and don’t simply select a lender based on a recommendation from a friend, adds Zhenguo Lin, assistant professor of real estate at Mississippi State University.
Lin co-authored a recent study that found female heads of households pay 40 basis points — nearly 0.5 percent — more on home mortgages than other borrowers.
When controlled for income, credit score and other factors, that difference dropped to 8 basis points. But that’s still significant, says Lin, who says she believes the cost variance is because 41 percent of women say they relied on a recommendation, while only 25 percent of men did.
So, ladies: Seeing as you’ve decided to start buying homes without men, try to resist your natural inclination towards innocence and credulity. We know that left to your own devices, you’d probably allow bankers to take advantage of you, and just go with the advice of your friends. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.