Women Influence 91% of Home-Buying Purchases. So Why Aren’t More Investing?

by | BiggerPockets.com

Women make or influence as much as 85 percent of consumer decisions and 91 percent of home-purchasing decisions, but only represent 25 percent of investors. In other words, nine out of 10 property purchases are decided by women. Slap the word “investment” in front of the word “property,” and suddenly women only make up 2.5 out of 10 of the individuals inputting funds, much to their long-term financial detriment.

When I started a monthly women’s investing group in Denver this past year, people had feelings about that. Men felt discriminated against by a female investing group, and women wanted to be taken seriously because a lot of women-focused products simply have pink packaging and a higher price point (ahem, bic pens). Got it. I don’t I like the color pink either, but when I read the 25 percent stat, I realized business as usual wasn’t working for women.  



Related: Yes, Money & Wealth DO Matter—And Pretending Otherwise Hurts Everyone

How Many Men Invest

Here’s a common pattern for male investors I know:

  1. A male relative of this theoretical individual invests/thinks said guy should also invest.
  2. Said guy does minimal online research until he finds an investing club.
  3. Said guy attends a local investor meeting.
  4. Said guy reads Rich Dad Poor Dad and/or thinks about reading Rich Dad Poor Dad.

He feels ready and comfortable, reaches out to me and we email, at which point his wife and a lender are involved, and they move forward or stop.

My Investing Journey

And here’s how my investment journey went:

  1. No one talked to me about investing, nor did I see myself as an investor.
  2. My parents bought the first place I lived in.
  3. Shortly after, I got married and my husband convinced me and my parents that we should buy the place from them, and we did.
  4. My husband started attending investment meetings. Within six months, he wanted to use a HELOC to buy an investment property.
  5. I was uncomfortable with the concept of a HELOC, but my husband is smart, so I agreed to move forward.
  6. I attended my first and last investment meeting. My husband continued to go to investment meetings.
  7. I read the following books: Rich Dad Poor Dad, The Millionaire Real Estate Investor, Long-Distance Real Estate Investing.
  8. We have now purchased our fifth investment.

Related: Nearly 25% of Americans Lie to Their Spouses About Money: It’s Time to Open Up About Finances

I mention the two journeys because it’s important to think about how the different genders consume information. My husband (and men in general) tend to be more comfortable with higher risk (or at least, they take different risks than women). They can attend a meeting, meet a few other men who look like them/have a similar life path, and decide it’s something they want to do.

For me personally, my husband introduced me to the concept. I was immediately turned off by investing meetings: too much bravado and not enough sharing. Reading was clearly a better way for me to consume information, but that 25 percent stat bothered (and still bothers) me.

How Do We Change?

So how is an investing group for females different? It’s much, much smaller and quieter. There is a speaker each month who gives an overview of their expertise and then answers questions. Sorry, dudes, but people also take turns speaking. And how is a women’s investment group similar to a standard investment group? We share resources: 1031 exchange professionals, lenders, agents, books, financial tools, etc.

Rather than ignore or belittle that the genders consume information differently, it makes sense to address how to change how we approach women in investing and make them more comfortable in the space. 

Women: What has your experience in the investing space been? How would you like to see this landscape change?

Leave a comment below!

About Author

Erin Spradlin

Erin Spradlin co-owns James Carlson Real Estate. She loves working with first-time homebuyers for their enthusiasm and excitement, and loves working with investors because she’s a fellow spreadsheet nerd. She and her husband own three properties in metro Denver and are currently in the process of acquiring a duplex in Colorado Springs. You can find Erin’s blogs here: https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/author/erinspradlin/ and her airbnb video series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgSUZKLPRI9tK3Vd-qpH3Sk2Rh-_pIrNN.

33 Comments

    • Erin Spradlin

      Yeah, it’s so interesting to see how the two different sexes approach buying- whether that’s to live in or as an investment and what will hold them back or motivate them. PM me for details on the investing club. Would love to share more with you about it.

  1. Cindy Larsen

    Erin,

    Great post. I loved the idea of a women’s investing group. Most of the women I know lack the background to believe that investing is for them. They simply have no mentors, no experience, and no expectation that this is an area that they should consider trying. I am inspired by your idea, and will probably start a women’s investing group of my own. I have two nieces that could benefit from it, and it could be a lot of fun.

    My journey was very different from yours. First, I was an airforce brat, so I grew up living in a lot of different houses in different places. Three times when he moved, my Dad bought houses, so I was aware that that was something people did. the first house he bought (influenced by my Mom) was a beautiful Victorian in Spokane WA. It was uninsulated, and after two years, when I was almost 11, he sold it because of high heating bills. I missed that house. It became my dream house.

    Fast forward to college. Working on simultaneous bachelors degrees in Math and Physics. Job as a programmer making decent money part time (30 hrs/week). Acquired two cats. Found that every apartment complex that accepted cats was NOT somewhere I wanted to live (C class areas, not well maintained). So I bought a condo. No appreciation, but focused on paying down the mortgage to get out from under PMI.

    This resulted in equity that I used as a downpayment on a house that was really two 1 bedroom houses joined together: my idea was that I could rent half of it to pay my mortgage. i did not know there was such a thing as house hacking. I just found a house I could barely afford in the B class area I wanted to live in. it was just a few blocks fom downtown mountain view, CA, and the city was in the process of improving the main street downtown. I went hunting, lucked into a house that was an unofficial duplex. I did a lot of DIY remodling over the years I lived there, and also hired some contractors. Lots of learning.

    A year after I bought that house, I got married. Two years later I had my first son, and we needed the space so no more renting out part of the house. I wanted to fix it up, sell it, and move to a bigger better house. By the time my son was 6, and his brother 4, I was ready: full time job as a programmer (60 hours per week) kids in montessori school, mom/housewife on evenings and weekends, fixing up the house as I got time. It took a while until I was ready to sell the house.

    Meanwhile, I learned several things about my husband: 1) he had no interest in real estate and would have continued renting if he hadn’t married me. 2) he was change averse and did not want to move 3) he was not honest about not wanting to move: he just rejected every house I dragged him to see, in every location. I could have bought a number of different houses, twice the size of ours, on bigger parcels. he always found some reason why not.

    By the time my eldest son was 12, I gave up on getting my husband to agree to move. I settled in and improved that house even more. I became an expert painter, a fair carpenter, and learned how to install and refinish hardwood floors. I worked with a contractor on refoofing the garrage, including replacing beams and facia. I spent 25 years in that house.

    My next opportunity in real estate came when I learned of my husband’s affairs. He had been lying to me for 15 years. I did a cash out refinance, which I made him sign for, and then we bought me a house, while he moved his girlfriend into our house. My sons and I moved.

    The house I found, I bought with an investor mindset. All those years of househunting had mad me familiar with the real estate market. it was in a good area for appreciation, provided an opportunity from cosmetic remodeling, without needing any structural work, and had an uninhabitable cottage on the same piece of land. In the 5 years I lived there, that house because beautiful, the boys and I learned to be expert at installing tile floors, and we rehabbed the cottage. before Imrented it, I researched being a landlord, which led me to biggerpockets. I read everything anyone posted, and researched every concept I came across on other websites and in books. I practiced being a great landlord, and decided ti become a rea estate investor, in WA, where the houses cost a lot less than in CA, and there is no state income tax.

    While still living in CA, I found a great deal on the MLS in WA and bought it. So, I had two houses, and two rental cottages. In 2017, I sold the property in CA, and moved to WA. my goal was to buy as many units as I could, as fast as I could find good deals, as quickly as possible, before the interest rates went up. In 9 months, I bought 16 units, in addition to the two I already had. I now have 18 units on 7 tax parcels. And have learned a lot this year. real estate investing can be challenging, but it is fun. And profitable.

    I’d love to help other women learn to invest. The most important lesson is believing you can.

  2. Amanda Blanch

    Thanks Erin! I’ve wanted to work in real estate from the age of 12 precisely because I knew I had a better grasp of how a home is utilized by a family. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do, but I agree with you, breaking into the business is immensely harder for women because there are much fewer look-alike-contemporaries in that those meetups I feel I connect with. That said, I also agree that my approach to learning this business is much more conservative than the men I’ve met in the industry (typically 24 yr old guys with nothing to lose and no care in the world going after things I know I still don’t know enough to confidently go after). Love the perspective! Hopefully it opens some eyes. 🙂

  3. Monecca R Webb

    Are there any women investing groups in Columbus, Ohio that anyone knows about? This is a great time for women to come forth, I work in a male dominated industry (railroad) and now want to give real estate a try to prepare for retirement… can and willing to learn all I can to be successful, failure is not an option.

  4. Cole love

    Enjoyed your perspective Erin. Real estate just doesn’t seem to get my wife too fired up. I don’t press the issue but share the journey hoping that she will eventually want to participate. Maybe you would have some insight on how to approach this differently with her? But it’s possible this just isn’t her cup of tea regardless.

    Thanks-

    • Erin Spradlin

      🙂 I don’t know how you’ve approached it so far, so I can’t say how to approach it differently… but maybe recruit professionals or other people that have done it already and succeeded to speak to her instead of just your perspective. I see a lot of enthusiasm sometimes from my male investors that don’t always take the whole family’s finances into account, so sometimes being able to hear about the successes or financial gains from a third party helps move the needle. Good luck!

  5. Kassandra Ortega

    Thank you for this very important post, Erin! I’m BRAND NEW to REI and this has also been my experience, I’ve noticed that this is definitely a male-dominated industry. I went to my first RE Meetup of about 50-ish people, there was only ONE other woman investor, and I also had your same experience regarding the “bravado” of the meetups. For this reason, I haven’t been back since — these local events can be very exclusionary if you’re a woman. I’ve listened to nearly every BP Podcast and I’m genuinely excited when there is a woman on the show since it’s not very often. It’s wonderful that you started a REI Investor Meetup for women! Once I have more experience under my belt, I’d love to start one of my own in my city. There really is a need for women in this industry to have their own space. Thank you for bringing light to this very important topic!

    • Erin Spradlin

      Yeah, supposedly the criteria for the BP podcast guest is 10+ investments, which unfortunately excludes a lot of women.

      You should absolutely start a female REI group… even if you don’t have the experience yet, you could still recruit and support females in the industry that can speak to investing (lenders, agents, 1031 specialists, etc.) and start there. Good luck (and if you do do it or want help, let me know.)

  6. Sarah W.

    Interesting article. I wonder the same – why aren’t there more female investors? I have gone to a few real estate groups and the vast majority are men. Very few women and very few young women. And even fewer young women doing it on their own. I began investing at age 25 and think there is huge opportunity for more women to do so. Where’s the equivalent female Scott Trench??

    • Erin Spradlin

      That stat just makes me think the model is not appealing to women… I think that’s the only way to explain it. Women just don’t see themselves in investors or they don’t feel welcome.. and that’s not really the fault of either sex, it is just how it is. That said, I think we need to fill that gap by addressing the issue and helping more people feel comfortable investing.

  7. Erik Whiting

    I may be the first male to leave a response on this post! Or not….I just scanned thru the names above and may have missed one. First, thanks for an interesting read. I’ve wondered why the majority of land lords I encounter are male, and this gets right at that topic.
    .
    At our local REIA, I’ve observed that about half of the attendees are female, include solo attendees and husband/wife teams. However, when you get down to talking to them, I find that women like the idea of investing but are much less likely to actually pull the trigger and do it. In the husband/wife team, usually hubby is the driving force and wifey is the helper/assistant. With the solo women, I’ll see a new gal show up for for 3-4 meetings, then she disappears to be replaced by another would-be investor. Much more likely to see the same guys still around after a year or more.
    .
    Why is this? I don’t know. I certainly believe women are just as capable as men when it comes to owning, managing, and investing in real estate. Our local real estate sales market is dominated a 50/50 mix of male/female brokers, so it’s not a question of competence or available ladies interested in real estate to fill the profession. However, of those agents I speak with, the male agents almost always own several rentals whereas the female agents rarely own even a single unit.
    .
    When it comes to meeting other land lords who are selling at their properties, 9 times out of 10 it’s a man vs. a woman. In fact, I only recall ever meeting three land ladies at their properties for sale since I started in 2005.
    .
    I don’t know why that is either, other than perhaps this method of wealth building is more in tune with how men have traditionally built wealth? Maybe there is something of a “club” mentality when it comes to men getting other men involved with real estate. None of my female friends or relatives talk about owning rentals. Several male friends an relatives do talk about it and have bought some units. *shrug
    .
    I’d be interested to hear from the ladies why they think this is, and whether or not their observations match mine.

    • Erin Spradlin

      Honestly, I think women may be better at certain skillsets (as men are as well), but those skill sets are often seen as not as valuable.. For instance, you state that women play more of an assistant role than the men. I’ve also found that to be true, but what annoys me is that assistants don’t get their proper due. A bad assistant becomes a big problem fast, so I wish that was a more recognized/valued skillset. I digress… but I wonder if women are seen that way, internalize it, and again think investing is for someone else smarter/more able/has that look… when in truth, they are perfectly well situated to move forward with investing.

      • Nicole Heasley

        Women do tend to be better at organizing and communicating, which is why they often perform duties like answering calls and e-mails, tracking income and expenses, or keeping records. The problem is people see the women performing these roles as “assistants” rather than “partners.” Just because a wife is playing more of a background role does not mean she is an “assistant” to her husband.

        • Erin Spradlin

          I 100% agree. Maybe men should hold off on taking investing courses and take more courses on how to be organized, how to do bookkeeping and how to return emails.

  8. Irina Barnett

    Thank you Erin for providing an illustrative narrative on the main reasons why real estate investments in vastly owned by male investors vs female investors. I had this same discussion with another BP author and he pointed out the same reason: women are more risk adverse. In addition, you bring another well educated reason: we learn in different patterns. What I have learned thus far while listening to BP podcasts and reading RE investment related books is that all investments involved risk. The problem is that we aim to avoid risk rather than to manage it. With proper training, real estate education and networking women can become more involved in real estate investments too.

    • Erin Spradlin

      Yes, and I think being risk adverse is very much a good thing for the most part. Unfortunately, it can be a bad thing for your financial gain… I also happen to believe “history favors the bold.” The sentiment is true in investing at the very least.

  9. Nicole Heasley

    One topic I haven’t seen addressed on BP (which isn’t to say it hasn’t been discussed, I just haven’t seen it) is predatory behaviors at REI meetups. I’ve been attending my local REI meetup since February, and back in October, I met two older male investors who gave me some great pointers and encouragement regarding my REI business…and then sent me some really uncomfortable, inappropriate messages after connecting with me on Facebook. I’m not quitting my meetups, but now I have to deal with the uncomfortable prospect of running into them again. I could see other women in my position leaving the field because of it.

  10. John Murray

    I thought very hard on women and risk taking, hard work and just plain luck. I made my fortune by hard skilled labor and my wife is the numbers and clerical part. My military background gave me a sense of pushing physical and mental limits and quite frankly bravado. I fear very little, lucky my wife believes I have half a brain and most importantly we believe in each others abilities to work toward a common goal of success. Behind every successful grunt guy is a woman that believes in her grunt and vice versa. It takes 2 and that the way it’s supposed to be.

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