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Study: Women's challenge to find 'equal' mate affects housing market, birth rates

2:35 PM, Feb 22, 2013   |    comments
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NEW YORK - As the housing market recovers, America should see more renters turn into buyers, but that is not the case. One major reason is women and a huge change in their relationships with men.

Ten years ago, the number of men and women in college was about the same. Nowadays, there are four million more college-educated women than men, and the disparity is just getting wider.

"Now you've got this massive four-million person gap, and, what we find is, unfortunately, it's created the issue of a lack of suitable partners," Buck Horne with Raymond James said.

That lack of partners has caused a huge drop in the birth rate. Fertility is down 8.5 percent since 2007 to the lowest level in recorded history. It usually drops during recessions, but it also usually turns around 18 months into recovery. America is now three years into recovery without that turnaround.

"It's creating a situation where we're seeing continued delays in family formation rates, and one of the biggest drivers for why a household will buy a single family house as opposed to staying in a rental apartment is the 'Honey, I'm pregnant' factor," Horne said.

With that factor falling, apartment demand is rising.

"It's so low maintenance, that's the best thing," Susan Boggess, a renter, said.

Single women like Boggess want the flexibility, amenities and safety provided by rental apartment buildings. Their home ownership rate is just 32 percent.

"Right now, just because of how demanding my job is and because a few things are up in the air, it just doesn't make sense for me to own a home," Boggess said. "It seems like that would take up all of my spare time."

In addition to lower overall birth rates, 41 percent of births today are occurring to unmarried mothers. By and large, these moms do not want the hassle of home ownership.

(Copyright © 2013 NBC Universal, All Rights Reserved)

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