More Singles Than Ever: How It Affects Real Estate


In the age of “selfies,” the majority of adults are sticking to themselves. Single Americans now make up more than half of the adult population, the first time the number of singles has passed the 50 percent mark since the government began tracking such data in 1976.

About 124.6 million Americans indicated they were single in August; 50.2 percent were age 16 or older, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The percentage has been gradually trending upward since the beginning of 2013.

The rise of single households has “implications for our economy, society, and politics,” writes Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research Inc., in a report called “Selfies.” He called the proportion of singles today “remarkable.”

What are the implications for real estate? Singles, particularly younger professionals, are more likely to rent than own a home. They are less likely to have children, and the growth in single households likely will exaggerate income inequality, Yardeni notes.

“While they have less household earnings than married people, they also have fewer expenses, especially if there are no children in their households,” Yardeni writes in his report.

The number of never-married adult Americans has been on the rise, too, increasing to 30.4 percent from 22.1 percent in 1976. The number of divorced, separated, or widowed adults also has risen up to 19.8 percent from 15.3 percent.

Some real estate analysts are expecting an increase in singles heading into home ownership in the coming years. For example, single women make up the second largest segment of home purchases, with one out of every five homes purchased by a single woman, according to National Association of REALTORS® data. More than 25 million single women over the age of 45 — who may be either divorced, widowed, or never married — are also making up a growing number of home owners, real estate professionals report.

Some builders are even catering to this growing segment, reportedly adding two master bedrooms to appeal to the 40 percent of single women who choose to have non-romantic roommates, according to AARP surveys.

Source: “Is Everybody Single? More Than Half the U.S. Now, Up From 37% in ’76,” Bloomberg News (Sept. 8, 2014) and REALTOR® Magazine Daily News