Is there a gender gap in the real estate market?

Homeownership more profitable for single men

The average home owned by a single man is worth 10 percent more than a home owned by a single women, and it's less likely to be located in a neighborhood with known criminals.

An analysis by the housing data firm RealtyTrak of 2.1 million single-family homes bought by unmarried men and women found that the average market value of homes owned by single men was $255,226 compared to $229,094 for single women.

Homes owned by single men are worth almost $64,000 more than when they were purchased -- a 33 percent return on investment -- compared to the roughly $54,000 gain for homes owned by single women.

RealtyTrak attributes these disparities to the gender wage gap: Women working full-time earn less -- about 18 percent less -- then men working full-time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While various factors, including occupation and hours worked, contribute to the pay gap, the difference translates into considerably less purchasing power for women.

How much less? More than $430,000 over a 40-year career, according to the National Women's Law Center.

The RealtyTrak study also found that the gender gap in housing widens as time goes on. Homes owned for at least 15 years by single men gain $170,765 in value, a 145 percent more than the purchase price, and $36,496 more than the average gain for homes owned at least 15 years by single women.

"The slower home price appreciation for homes owned by single women demonstrates that less purchasing power is also having on a domino effect on their ability to build wealth through homeownership as quickly as single men," said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. 

Single women are also more likely to own homes in zip codes with higher rates of criminal offenders. 

RealtyTrak calculated the number of registered criminal offenders, including sex offenders, child predators, kidnappers and violent offenders, in each zip code and found that neighborhoods with a greater share of single women homeowner ship had roughly 7 percent more offenders than neighborhoods with more single male homeowners. 

The housing gender gap isn't all bad news. Single women who own homes are less likely to live in neighborhoods with environmental risks such as air and water pollution, former drug labs and Superfund sites. 

Moreover, in three states -- Massachusetts, Kentucky and Kansas -- homes owned by single women had higher average values than homes owned by single men. And in eight states -- New York, New Jersey, North Dakota, Massachusetts and Virginia -- single women saw the value of their homes grow more than single men.

The gap in home values was widest between single men and women in Washington, D.C (14 percent higher), Florida, West Virginia, Wisconsin (12 percent higher), Texas (10 percent) and Alabama (10 percent).