All the Single Ladies Have Way Less Debt Than Single Men. Here’s Why

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When is having more debt actually a good thing?

That’s a trick question. The answer is never. But it’s a slightly different story when that debt is in the form of a mortgage.

According to a recent GOBankingRates study of 2,500 adults, men have three times more debt than women do.

But that’s not exactly good news for women. Having less debt is generally a plus, but it may indicate the gender gap in homeownership.

When GOBankingRates asked respondents about their mortgages, among other debts, men were more likely than women to report having a mortgage.

Women were only more likely than men to have a mortgage when it was for less than $100,000 or between $150,000 and $200,000.

Considering women have been able to seek their own credit without a male co-signer — including mortgages — since 1974, why are women buying homes at lower rates than men?

Women: Not Winning, Even When They’re Breadwinning

GOBankingRates looked to a recent Credit Sesame study to make sense of the difference. According to that study of 1,000 people, 42% of women renters said they couldn’t afford a down payment, while 38% of men said the same.

Twenty-two percent of women said they were “extremely concerned with housing affordability,” while only 19% of men felt the same.

Credit Sesame also noted that, on average, women have lower credit scores than men, so perhaps it’s not surprising that 21% of women who said they were delaying buying a home due to low credit scores.

Women may still be feeling the pressure to buy despite their concerns about housing affordability. Redfin examined down payments of men and women and discovered that while the median down payment was around 20%, single men were more likely to make a 20% down payment. On the other hand, single women were more likely to make a down payment of less than 5%.  

If you think the wage gap is a culprit here, don’t expect change anytime soon. The gender wage gap is closing, but it won’t be even-steven until 2119, the American Association of University Women predicts.

How to Be a Woman Trying to Buy a Home

There really aren’t tips for women who want to purchase a home; there are just general tips for everyone. But they’re worth considering well before you start going to open houses.

Consider the Responsibility

Buying a home isn’t just about getting a good rate on your mortgage and then resting easy for 30 years. There’s maintenance, unexpected expenses and homeowner association meetings that can stretch on for hours but accomplish little (trust me on this one).

Owning a home has to be a part of your lifestyle, and if you’re not excited about the prospect of constantly tinkering to keep your home running smoothly, it may not be worth the daydreaming (yet).

Think About the Costs of Buying a Home

Do this before you start looking at homes. Credit Sesame’s mortgage map feature helps you figure out what you might be able to afford based on your location and income.  

Save Now to Save on Your Mortgage Later

While a 20% down payment on a home is no longer the norm, a low down payment usually requires private mortgage insurance (PMI). You pay PMI — usually 0.5% or 1% of the home loan value — each year until you’ve paid off about 20% of the home’s value.  

There is a win here, when you look at housing outcomes. When the Urban Institute analyzed solo female and male borrowers, it found that single white, African-American and Hispanic solo female borrowers consistently default less than their male counterparts.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.

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