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It used to be that home buying was regarded as the "adulting" step that came after marriage and before family. Today, not so much. Single buyers are gaining in number on couples in the home buying market. Currently, single men represent 9 percent of home purchasers, while single women represent the second-largest segment of home buyers in the U.S., having accounted for roughly 15-20 percent of all home purchases in recent years.

What is interesting about this impressive and growing purchasing power is that as single borrowers, according to a new study by the Urban Institute, women overall are better at paying their mortgages than men. As a gender, they default less frequently on their loans despite facing payments that typically represent a larger percentage of their incomes than other home buyers. With this better payment record, the study concludes that the current evaluation process could be fairer in how it treats all applications.

An Overlooked Opportunity

While the housing industry may want to start reevaluating how it assesses a borrower's credit risk overall, borrowers can also be more proactive. Female and male borrowers alike have a great opportunity to learn more about loan programs that already exist for lower income clients, even if they have weaker credit scores. From FHA and VA loans to the Home Ready Program from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's Home Possible and Your Path programs, less expensive options exist. There are also many local programs taht can cimilarly be of benefit since they target homeownership in low-income areas with attractive mortgage terms.

Being More aware of options is a good first move toward achieving homeownership. For female borrowers - especially single women - finding the right mortgage program can help build equity more easily, reduce financial strain on their households, and convert even more of them into homeowners.