Which Gender Is Recession-Proof–And Which is More Likely to Buy One of Your New Condos?

The slowing economy has affected a number of industries in a number of ways–and it’s affected women and men differently, too.

According to new data, women are faring better than men:

  • From November through April, women in the U.S. age 20 and up added nearly 300,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Two female-concentrated fields, education and health care, are growing, which has helped; some analysts have suggested that women also are a better fit for the knowledge economy because of their sensitivity, intuition and ability to act as a team, BusinessWeek says.
  • Men, during the same period, lost almost 700,000 jobs. That’s due in part to the fact the two sectors that are doing extremely poorly–construction (which is about 88 percent male) and manufacturing–are male-dominated fields, Seeking Alpha says.
  • Women are also winning at the higher education game: They’re graduating from college at higher rates than men are, according to BusinessWeek.

However, the extra jobs don’t mean women are making more because the pay levels remain inactive.

Thus, because women and men are often sharing household expenses, the lady-driven economy can’t sustain its strength for long if the men’s side continues to weaken, BusinessWeek says.

That may be true–but it doesn’t mean women will lose their buying power.

And when trying to sell housing (or housing repairs), don’t underestimate the feminine influence. The National Association of Home Builders says a recent Harvard University study found that women handle 91 percent of home buying and remodeling decisions.

The NAHB’s publishing division in January released "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions" to help builders and other housing industry members understand female buyers’ motivations and objectives.

“Builders recognize that women have more buying power than ever—single women, in fact, are the second largest and fastest-growing demographic of home buyers,” said Sandy Dunn, first vice president of NAHB and a builder from Point Present, W.Va.

A few interesting finds from the 2006 "Buying For Themselves: An Analysis of Unmarried Female Home Buyers©" survey by Rachel Bogardus Drew, published by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies:

  • Don’t focus on marketing new buildings to single women. Single women are less likely to choose newer construction than married couples.
  • The multifamily market is a popular choice. Because they loved the convenience and security, 15 percent of the single female buyers that the survey studied bought a condo–slightly higher than the 12 percent of unmarried men and a whopping three times more than the 5 percent of married couples who bought condos.
  • Women also rely on their agent. Roughly 96.9 percent of single females rated agent communication skills as very important, more than single males or married couples.

The economy’s varying effect on men and women is interesting–but the housing decisions men and women make–and why–should be of interest to every industry member.

Knowing what makes women, for example, buy, revamp, remodel and sell homes can help drive design decisions and marketing programs–for agents, builders, developers and more.

Do you know what your potential buyers are looking for?