Denver’s single women are buying homes despite skyrocketing housing market

Denver-area single women are plunging alone into the city’s infamous housing market, despite soaring prices and shortages.

Anna Fine, a 31-year-old design director, closed an Arvada home in March 2021, offering about $80,000 more than the asking price because a cash offer from another party was on the table. However, the process took almost four months, as she searched for a home that welcomed her and her dog, instead of a potential family.

“It just needs to be more normal,” she said in a phone interview. “I moved into my neighborhood and the first question my neighbors asked me was like, ‘Who’s your boyfriend? Who is your husband? ”

Nationwide, single women make up 20% of first-time home buyers, compared to 11% of single men, the National Association of Realtors reported last year. In Denver specifically, even the coronavirus pandemic couldn’t stop single women from securing their house keys, with 15.6% buying homes in 2020, according to analysis by RedFin.

Two years later, the real estate market in the metropolitan area is hot. The median closing price for a residential home was $602,750 in March — the highest number on record, reports the Denver Metro Association of Realtors. Next, would-be homeowners should also consider a spike in mortgage rates, which are now hovering between 4% and 5%, according to the Mortgage News Daily Rate Index.

Yet the city’s single women are doing business on homes without the financial backing of a romantic partner, pushing back against the outdated idea that buying a home requires a spouse.

However, Fine noted that she had lost other potential homes for DINK couples – slang for “double income, no kids”.

“I was always at a disadvantage, even though I was also anxious or equipped to buy these homes,” she said.

Fine decided to buy a home in the Denver area in November 2020. Although she moved around a lot as a child, she spent about nine years in Boulder. Her parents moved back to the city in 2013, and when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Fine moved in with them after spending 12 years in New York.

Her original plan for finding her next home in California changed when she considered Denver’s advantages: its affordability compared to the Golden State, the plethora of activities available to Coloradans, and the ability to find a yard for her pet. of company.

After making her decision, Fine began visiting eight to 10 homes each weekend, exploring different neighborhoods and areas around Denver. The process was accompanied by disappointments, including canceled contracts for two different homes after inspections predicted costly renovations.

“At this point, I was like, ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to have a home,'” she said.

Fine also encountered issues specific to her relationship status. As an independent contractor for almost two years, she had to have a co-signer validate that she could afford her house. However, Fine said she earns more than her co-signer, which actually limits her options.

As a result, she eventually committed to full-time work, but described the whole experience as “extremely frustrating”.

Through it all, her home “ended up being the right fit,” she said. Fine encouraged other women to follow her lead because “it’s the surest way for them to commit money and build personal wealth” without relying on anyone else.

“It’s just not something people are used to seeing, and it should be,” she said.

Craig Ferraro, adjunct professor of real estate at the University of Colorado, said today’s housing market often makes dual income a necessity.

“From a societal perspective, it’s probably a good thing that (single women) can afford it,” he said.

He believes that the pandemic has caused people to seek more certainty in their life situation, in addition to single women feeling more comfortable in their work. He pointed to potential buyers – men and women, singles and couples alike – rushing to find homes before the market becomes more unaffordable.

“We’re getting closer,” Ferraro said in a phone interview. “As interest rates go up, people say, ‘I have to do this now because it’s only going to get worse.’ ”

Bank of America’s Homebuyer Insights 2021 report reveals that 65% of single women who buy a home would prefer not to wait until marriage to buy a house, with 30% of women owners confirming that they bought their house when they were single. The vast majority of single women surveyed – at 87% – regard the idea that you have to be married to buy a house as an outdated notion.

“It’s exciting to see so many single women challenging the status quo – taking control of their financial futures and proving that marriage is not a prerequisite to home ownership,” said Kathy Cummings, vice -senior president of Bank of America, in a press release. “I often hear from this band that they want to invest in themselves and their future, whether it’s solo or for their kids.”

Yet the most significant obstacle for these women is savings. According to the report, about three-quarters of single women have decided to put shopping on hold because they want to feel financially stable first. The survey, which sampled 2,000 adults who own a home or plan to buy one, was conducted between February 18 and March 1, 2021.

Gianna Carriaga, a 24-year-old labor and employee relations representative, came across an affordable housing program for Denver online in late 2019. Her friend’s mother, who works as a real estate agent, guided her throughout the process, and Carriaga closed on her Condo City Park on September 3, 2021.

Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Gianna Carriaga poses with her dog, Mocha, at her east Denver apartment on Monday, April 11, 2022.

“It doesn’t seem real sometimes,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m so used to renting, and now I’m a landlord.”

Carriaga grew up in Thornton. She considered leaving the state, but decided against it for financial reasons.

His condo is part of a newly built complex and was particularly desirable to him because of its proximity to a light rail station to get to work.

Making that decision with a partner would have given her more housing options, but “I probably wouldn’t have qualified for that particular resort because it’s, like, income tested,” she said. Carriaga said she received no negative reaction to her purchase as a single woman, with most people impressed that she was doing it at such a young age.

“It’s a bit scary and lonely, but at the end of the day, owning your own home and building capital on your own is really empowering,” said Yashila Permeswaran, a 27-year-old senior software developer.

The purchase of her Edgewater townhouse, which she described as “a bit restorative”, was a whirlwind that lasted about a month. She contacted her real estate agent, Chelsea Steen, in mid-December, and immediately began researching options.

“I see younger women buying their first home on their own, and I see older women starting to buy more investment properties,” Steen said, estimating that at least 60% of his clients are women. “It’s driven by a more empowered younger generation who are confident and go after what they want in life.”

Permeswaran visited his future home on December 27 – right in the middle of the festive season. It hit the market at 8 a.m. and it arrived at 8:30 a.m. Permeswaran entered into a contract on December 30 and closed on January 14.

Not only was the price right, but it ticked several of its boxes: a good location, a walkable neighborhood, and a garage, which would make overnight parking safer as a single woman. Still, she notes, “Oh, my God, it’s a seller’s market.”

Yashila Permeswaran poses outside her apartment...

Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Yashila Permeswaran poses in her flat in Edgewater on Monday April 11, 2022.

A friend plans to move in with her and pay rent, which will help pay the mortgage.

Hailing from a small town in northwest Iowa, Permeswaran earned a master’s degree from the University of Iowa just before COVID-19. Although she got a job in the Denver area, Permeswaran initially worked remotely.

When she moved into an apartment in Lakewood in January 2021, she “realized I was sick of throwing money away for rent.” Permeswaran said she “fell in love and doesn’t really want to leave” Denver — not just because her close family lives in the area, but also because of the atmosphere and culture.

“Most places you go, people are going to be like, ‘What are you doing?’ when they first meet you,” she said in a phone interview. “People here ask, ‘What do you like to do?’ And so, it’s more about who you are and who you choose to be.