Posted on November 23rd, 2011 by Leonard Steinberg.
In to-day’s Wall Street Journal it is reported that over the next 20 years, some $25 trillion will be passed to women through divorce, death of spouse or inheritance. Women already make up just under half of the nation’s millionaires. Combined with their growing earning and wealth-creation power, women may account for up for two thirds of the nation’s wealth by 2030. Single female buyers are a growing group of buyers, many empowered with self created wealth through their own professional efforts: New York real estate must cater to this potent force.
This message should be a wake up call to all real estate professionals who already witness this growing trend on a daily basis. I personally see women as the primary decision makers in the majority of residential real estate purchases. The big questions to be asked now are: how are real estate professionals addressing the needs of women differently? Women prefer a different style of communication to most men. They prefer a different approach. They are as in tune with their emotional needs as they are their practical needs. While men often seek the WOW factor in a property, women think more practically, exploring closet space (an issue most men completely ignore), the quality and selection of finishes, how a space functions for daily life, how a home has to not only fullfill the need for space, but how it should connect emotionally too. We have found while staging apartments, many men are most concerned with where they will place their big screen TV….women on the other hand want to know where they could sit, relax and read a good book and unwind. They truly appreciate a cashmere throw on a comfortable chaise perched by a window with a view…. Women’s esthetic awareness is on average very strong. This can sometimes be a disadvantage to some women buyers when they focus more on the esthetics (that can always be changed) instead of the fundamentals of space: volume, light, views, etc.
Women also have greater ease committing to something (in life and real estate): As Lady Gaga sings “We have a whole lot of money, but we still pay rent: you cannot buy a house in heaven!”, most women recognize a clock is ticking and waiting (and renting) is often not the smartest option if you have a lot of money…..establishing a more permanent home is wise investment-wise, but more importantly it’s wise for quality-of-life. I think men enjoy seeing their bank balance as much as women enjoying living in a very comfortable home.
This trend is probably one of the most important to watch for developers: most developers and their architects are male, and really have to consider this important female perspective in their future projects. I have spoken in the past for the horrific lack of CHARM in most new buildings….this is certainly an area that could appeal strongly to women, and strong consideration should be given to making new buildings feel more like homes than generic rental buildings or the latest of-the-moment boutique hotel. Bankers take note too: buildings are not purely about square feet and dollars although these too are important considerations.
We will explore this subject more over the next few months and get back to you with our survey results….in the mean time let’s GIVE THANKS to Women!