Housing equity gap between men, women is huge in Raleigh, study finds

Housing equity gap between men, women is huge in Raleigh, study finds

RALEIGH- Women buyers in the Raleigh metropolitan statistical area can reasonably afford one in every four homes in the region, but men can afford half of all homes that come on the market. That’s leaving women behind, a Zillow economist notes in a new report.

The new analysis of US Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Zillow found that nationally, women could afford 18 percent more of the housing market if they earned as much money as men.

But in Raleigh, there’s a housing equity gap that Zillow found to be higher than the national average: 25.1 percent. That gap ranks as the 9th worst gap in the nation, according to the analysis.

Overall, in the Raleigh metropolitan statistical area, which includes Wake, Johnston and Franklin counties, women can afford 25.5 percent of all homes, whereas men can afford 50.6 percent of those homes, the Zillow analysis found.

Screenshot of Zillow image. Data source: US Census Bureau, US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Gender plays a role in the housing market. Why?

First, Zillow’s analysis notes, there still exists a pay gap between male income earners and female income earners.

And, a new benchmarking study on diversity and inclusion conducted for the North Carolina Technology Association and its partners identified that there still exists a “stair step” or “broken rung” when it comes to career pathways to management and leadership positions for those who identify as women, at least in North Carolina’s technology sector.

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The gap in Raleigh’s market varies by industry

While Raleigh was recently ranked the top city for working women, the city ranked 52nd for its housing market.

There’s also “occupational segregation,” according to Charmaine Davis, a Southeast Regional Administrator at Women’s Bureau for the US Department of Labor, in a March 2021 call. That so-called occupational segregation drives down women’s pay rates, Davis noted.

While higher incomes can help qualify potential homeowners for mortgages, and provide a cushion in an individual’s monthly budget, lower earnings may not qualify a potential buyer for an affordable home, especially as home prices soar across the Triangle, far outpacing wage growth in the region .

Screenshot of Zillow image. Data source: US Census Bureau, US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But Zillow’s analysis also studied industry categories, showing which industries have the greatest and the least disparity when it comes to the impact of earnings on home affordability.

Only in two industries, construction and wholesale trade, can women afford more homes than men, by comparison.

In construction, women can afford 24.2 percent of overall homes in the region, whereas men can afford 22.1 percent. And in wholesale trade, women can afford 49.4 percent of homes, whereas men can afford 48.9 percent.

And in leisure and hospitality, there’s low home affordability overall, but a disparity still exists. In leisure and hospitality, men can afford 2.3 percent of the overall homes compared to 0.6 percent of women.

Triangle homes have never been less affordable

More Zillow data

According to Zillow’s data:

  • In education and health services, men can afford 48.1 percent of the overall homes compared to 26.4 percent of women
  • In financial services and activities, men can afford 84.8 percent of the overall homes compared to 53.0 percent of women
  • In information, men can afford 84.7 percent of the overall men compared to 56.0 percent of women
  • In manufacturing, men can afford 73.7 percent of the overall men compared to 27.7 percent of women
  • In professional and business services, men can afford 86.7 percent of the overall homes compared to 60.0 percent of women
  • In retail trade, men can afford 14.1 percent of the overall men compared to 6.5 percent of women
  • In transportation and warehousing, men can afford 44.8 percent of the overall homes compared to 28.9 percent of women

Screenshot of Zillow image. Data source: US Census Bureau, US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, housing affordability is a concern for many across the Triangle as mortgage rates are on the rise and now average 4.67 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage. Plus, the costs of renting have surged upwards of 20 percent and Triangle homes have never been less affordable.

Some 25% of Wake County residents are considered cost-burdened, including renters and owners, according to a December 2021 statement from the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

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More women are homeowners, but there are still challenges

According to data from the National Association of REALTORS, the rate of homeownership among women was 61.2% in 2019, up from 50.9% in 1990. But the homes that are owned by women are less valuable, according to Zillow’s research.

And women might be paying more for their mortgage than men are, increasing their homeownership costs, a 2021 analysis of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) found.

Screenshot of Zillow image. Metropolitan comparisons of the additional share of the housing market that women could afford if they had pay equity.

“Because owning a home is the dominant avenue for building wealth for most Americans, this disparity has a compounding impact,” the Zillow analysis, released earlier this week, notes. “The home value gap for women-owned homes has shown progress over the past decade, but women who are looking to break into homeownership are starting from behind.”

And single women are also underrepresented in Raleigh’s real estate market.

In the region, there were 22 percent of homebuyers were women alone or two female co-applicants, according to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. That’s a tick higher than the national average, which is 21.4 percent.

Compare that to the rate of men who apply on their own, which is 34 percent, or joint applications, which maintain the greatest share of the real estate market, at 39.9 percent across the nation.

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