Do prices drive single women out of downtown?

The Seattle Times had an article recently that I never saw since I don’t read the Seattle Times. Maybe some of you also did not see it – Prices driving single women from downtown condo market.

Half of downtown condo buyers are couples, a third are single men and the remaining 17 percent are single women, condo marketer Leslie Williams told a forum on downtown living presented this morning by the Downtown Seattle Association.

A decade ago, single men and single women each were about 25 percent of the market, said Williams, president of Williams Marketing.

“Females just can’t afford the prices downtown,” she said. “The biggest issue is affordability.”

This certainly sounds like an interesting statistic but where did Leslie get that number? Is this a sample of new condo construction buyers? New condo construction residents? Or a sample of all downtown condominium residents?

As for the statement ‘Females just can’t afford the prices downtown’, that may be true, I’m not arguing it isn’t, but it would have been helpful if the author of the article would have given us some evidence supporting the fact that there is a income gap between female and male downtown residents in Seattle. I don’t doubt that Leslie is an expert on condo marketing and sales but I don’t like think she is necessarily an expert on labor statistics (I could be wrong.)

Now whether you are female or male there appears to be a lack of sub $500,000 condos in downtown likely stemming from the fact that developers want to take advantage of recent zoning changes and build bigger and taller concrete and steel structures which result in a price tag of $400,000+ a unit. This forces the cheaper units out to neighborhoods like Lower Queen Anne and Capitol Hill which have zoning restrictions making the ‘five over two’ wood frame construction much more popular and affordable though likely still not affordable enough.

I have seen a lot of the new condos but I haven’t seen them all so perhaps I’ve missed the ones that aren’t spec’ing slab granite and stainless appliances. But it would be nice to see a developer going out and challenging some of the existing market assumptions that everyone wants those materials and experimenting with the lower end of price spectrum in terms of materials and unit sizes.

About Matt

Matt , Urbnlivn's publisher, has a love for lofts, floating homes and mid-century moderns.

For years Matt resisted becoming a real estate agent preferring to be an executive in the startup world but he recently caved in the spring of 2014 and became an agent.

You can also find Matt on Twitter or skiing.

  • Justin

    Like every other RE article, it’s wrapped in a veil of mystery with no hard data to back it up! ;)

    As for the affordability question, what’s your thoughts on Trace North? I haven’t really looked at the numbers, but I’ve come to generally consider it affordable; which I think is great, and I’m happy to call it a neighbor (regardless of what “Affordable” neighbors might do to my resale at Trace Lofts).

  • Justin

    Like every other RE article, it’s wrapped in a veil of mystery with no hard data to back it up! ;)

    As for the affordability question, what’s your thoughts on Trace North? I haven’t really looked at the numbers, but I’ve come to generally consider it affordable; which I think is great, and I’m happy to call it a neighbor (regardless of what “Affordable” neighbors might do to my resale at Trace Lofts).

  • http://designlines.wordpress.com kh

    Females just cant afford the prices downtown

    of course being a female i don’t agree… while i don’t make the $80k/plus needed to be able to afford a 1-bed downtown… i do know a lot that do!

    maybe it’s because women are trying to get away from the belltown bar scene and would rather live outside of downtown? so many of my young single friends want a separation between where they live and where they work but also want to be close enough (queen anne/fremont/eastlake/cap hill) where they can cab to/from night life.

  • http://designlines.wordpress.com kh

    ‘Females just can’t afford the prices downtown’

    of course being a female i don’t agree… while i don’t make the $80k/plus needed to be able to afford a 1-bed downtown… i do know a lot that do!

    maybe it’s because women are trying to get away from the belltown bar scene and would rather live outside of downtown? so many of my young single friends want a separation between where they live and where they work but also want to be close enough (queen anne/fremont/eastlake/cap hill) where they can cab to/from night life.

  • nf

    It is a well documented fact that women make only about 69 cents to every dollar a man makes. Do not fool yourselves, women are not as well off as men. Its not a matter of agreeing or not, its documented, supported and reported about in well respected publications such as the New York Times, labor statistics from the US government, etc. Where, have you all been? No doubt in your rarified granite and stainless steel environments.

  • nf

    It is a well documented fact that women make only about 69 cents to every dollar a man makes. Do not fool yourselves, women are not as well off as men. Its not a matter of agreeing or not, its documented, supported and reported about in well respected publications such as the New York Times, labor statistics from the US government, etc. Where, have you all been? No doubt in your rarified granite and stainless steel environments.

  • http://designlines.wordpress.com/ kh

    nf, i agree that is the documented statistic… but the gap is closing slowly(it will take decades i’m sure) but in the A&D community we all make “less than exciting wages” – i don’t see the big competition between man vs. woman.

    “Where, have you all been? No doubt in your rarified granite and stainless steel environments.” so what occupation are you in that you like to look down upon those in other fields?

  • http://designlines.wordpress.com/ kh

    nf, i agree that is the documented statistic… but the gap is closing slowly(it will take decades i’m sure) but in the A&D community we all make “less than exciting wages” – i don’t see the big competition between man vs. woman.

    “Where, have you all been? No doubt in your rarified granite and stainless steel environments.” so what occupation are you in that you like to look down upon those in other fields?

  • nf

    Here is the link to the perplexing data about women -www.gao.gov/new.items/d0435.pdf – I am not looking down on anyone, well, uh not much. But since I own in Queen Anne and since its about 480 ft high its hard not to … that is a joke, the way. My unit is very small. I own because I happened to have been married and was lucky to get financing from my in-laws. Once you have owned and sold, its easier to buy again. I am very lucky. I work in the legal field. As men have entered the field the support staff wages have risen and the attorney salaries have declined. I cannot believe that anyone in this century has not heard about the discrepencies between the earning potential of men versus women. I thought consciousness was raised about this back in the 70s. The gap between the have and the have nots continues to expand. Its not good for anyone that this is happening, men or women.

  • nf

    Here is the link to the perplexing data about women -www.gao.gov/new.items/d0435.pdf – I am not looking down on anyone, well, uh not much. But since I own in Queen Anne and since its about 480 ft high its hard not to … that is a joke, the way. My unit is very small. I own because I happened to have been married and was lucky to get financing from my in-laws. Once you have owned and sold, its easier to buy again. I am very lucky. I work in the legal field. As men have entered the field the support staff wages have risen and the attorney salaries have declined. I cannot believe that anyone in this century has not heard about the discrepencies between the earning potential of men versus women. I thought consciousness was raised about this back in the 70s. The gap between the have and the have nots continues to expand. Its not good for anyone that this is happening, men or women.

  • http://designlines.wordpress.com/ kh

    yep of course we’ve all heard about it…

    i will never fall into the mentality that i should be paid less as a professional working woman compared to the men in my field :) (which i don’t think is the case for me – so i don’t have to worry)

  • http://designlines.wordpress.com/ kh

    yep of course we’ve all heard about it…

    i will never fall into the mentality that i should be paid less as a professional working woman compared to the men in my field :) (which i don’t think is the case for me – so i don’t have to worry)

  • richard

    This article, like most of The Seattle Times writing is crap. Single women outnumber single men by almost 3:1 among first time home buyers and make up over 20% of the market. Single men are around 8%.

    If single women are having financial hardships that keep them from buying a place, single men are having a really hard time! (hahaha)

    Gee, maybe it’s just that a downtown condo is more of a typically male status symbol? You don’t see too many women driving Corvettes and BMW M3’s but it’s not because they’re too expensive, women just have different priorities and preferences usually.

    Besides, as my significant other has pointed out as we’ve been shopping for a new place, “I want to feel safe walking around at night in whatever neighborhood we choose. If there aren’t other women walking around alone after dark, that’s a bad sign.” Most of downtown – belltown, denny, etc… don’t have that important characteristic.

  • richard

    This article, like most of The Seattle Times writing is crap. Single women outnumber single men by almost 3:1 among first time home buyers and make up over 20% of the market. Single men are around 8%.

    If single women are having financial hardships that keep them from buying a place, single men are having a really hard time! (hahaha)

    Gee, maybe it’s just that a downtown condo is more of a typically male status symbol? You don’t see too many women driving Corvettes and BMW M3’s but it’s not because they’re too expensive, women just have different priorities and preferences usually.

    Besides, as my significant other has pointed out as we’ve been shopping for a new place, “I want to feel safe walking around at night in whatever neighborhood we choose. If there aren’t other women walking around alone after dark, that’s a bad sign.” Most of downtown – belltown, denny, etc… don’t have that important characteristic.

  • http://seattlesavvy.blogspot.com Justin Bowers

    I was shocked when I read the article myself. I do open houses downtown EVERY Sunday. My buyers are 3:1, female. Most of the neighbors I meet when doing an open are females. I’m sure the previous comment about male vs. female wages are true, but most women that I work with tend to detour from downtown for more charm and square footage. Not because they can’t afford it.

  • http://seattlesavvy.blogspot.com Justin Bowers

    I was shocked when I read the article myself. I do open houses downtown EVERY Sunday. My buyers are 3:1, female. Most of the neighbors I meet when doing an open are females. I’m sure the previous comment about male vs. female wages are true, but most women that I work with tend to detour from downtown for more charm and square footage. Not because they can’t afford it.

  • Anonymous

    If you look at the BLS statistics, the gender differences are much narrower among younger people. These are also the people who would be, uh, “daring” enough to buy an over-priced condo in Belltown.

    I would guess, though I can’t find Seattle-specific statistics, that the gender gap in Seattle is lower than it is nationally, given our more progressive attitudes.

    I know for instance that most of the women I work with make more than I do. So does my wife for that matter.

    I would guess that any difference that continues to exist among younger condo buyers in Seattle would be related less to sexism and more to choices that women make regarding picking less lucrative but more child-friendly careers and working shorter hours to balance family obligations.

    Whether you think that the lack of support for women in our society with children is inherently sexist by forcing them into these hard choices is a debate for another thread I think.

  • biliruben

    If you look at the BLS statistics, the gender differences are much narrower among younger people. These are also the people who would be, uh, “daring” enough to buy an over-priced condo in Belltown.

    I would guess, though I can’t find Seattle-specific statistics, that the gender gap in Seattle is lower than it is nationally, given our more progressive attitudes.

    I know for instance that most of the women I work with make more than I do. So does my wife for that matter.

    I would guess that any difference that continues to exist among younger condo buyers in Seattle would be related less to sexism and more to choices that women make regarding picking less lucrative but more child-friendly careers and working shorter hours to balance family obligations.

    Whether you think that the lack of support for women in our society with children is inherently sexist by forcing them into these hard choices is a debate for another thread I think.

  • David

    I think there is merit to the idea that men get married later in life and therefor can progress up the career ladder more quickly and are at a level of income where a single male can afford downtown living. I would assume there are a ton more single males at age 33 than there are single females at that age.

    That being said the prices downtown are prohibitive even for myself and I’m 27 and make over a 6 figure salary.

  • David

    I think there is merit to the idea that men get married later in life and therefor can progress up the career ladder more quickly and are at a level of income where a single male can afford downtown living. I would assume there are a ton more single males at age 33 than there are single females at that age.

    That being said the prices downtown are prohibitive even for myself and I’m 27 and make over a 6 figure salary.

  • JV

    Here’s to the The Seattle Times quote Females just cant afford the prices downtown: Your statement is false.

    I probably fall into the categories mentioned above: young, single female, daring, condo buyer. I purchased my downtown loft at age 24 in December 2003 and lived in it for almost two years as a bachelorette pad before renting it out to a responsible female, then to a DUDE that I had to evict because he couldn’t pay the rent. At any rate, it’s has been a smart investment that continues to appreciate, I am 3 1/2 years older and 3x wealthier.

    To state that women can not afford to buy downtown is ludicrous and should be backed up with appropriate research findings/statistics. Coincidentaly, the building in which I purchased has more single female owners than men and a few older couples. Coming from a marketing background, I believe that the current cultural climate, lifestyle and economy is what influences ones living situation and where/when they may buy real estate. It is not appropriate to say that women can not afford to buy downtown and men can.

    Regards,
    Wealthy Female Condo Owner at the Colonial Grand Pacific
    JV

  • JV

    Here’s to the The Seattle Times quote ‘Females just can’t afford the prices downtown’: Your statement is false.

    I probably fall into the categories mentioned above: young, single female, daring, condo buyer. I purchased my downtown loft at age 24 in December 2003 and lived in it for almost two years as a bachelorette pad before renting it out to a responsible female, then to a DUDE that I had to evict because he couldn’t pay the rent. At any rate, it’s has been a smart investment that continues to appreciate, I am 3 1/2 years older and 3x wealthier.

    To state that women can not afford to buy downtown is ludicrous and should be backed up with appropriate research findings/statistics. Coincidentaly, the building in which I purchased has more single female owners than men and a few older couples. Coming from a marketing background, I believe that the current cultural climate, lifestyle and economy is what influences ones living situation and where/when they may buy real estate. It is not appropriate to say that women can not afford to buy downtown and men can.

    Regards,
    Wealthy Female Condo Owner at the Colonial Grand Pacific
    JV

  • michaelmkones

    But for an artist to be successful, there must american flag wallpaper be a market.

  • JoeAnne11

    I don't know if the prices because as far as I learned, women don't really care about prices. If they like something they take and this is the men disadvantage to be honest. Women always had that thing for fashion and long wigs or other cosmetic products.