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We’ve Come a Long Way! A Look at a Woman’s Right to Own a Home in the US

It’s Women's History Month so I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some history about a woman’s right to own her own home in the United States.  

In the early years of the United States, property ownership was largely restricted to men. Married women, in particular, had limited property rights, as their assets were often considered the legal property of their husbands. It wasn't until the mid-19th century that significant changes began to take place. Beginning in 1839, states slowly began to enact Married Women's Property Acts to allow women more control over their property and finances. This groundbreaking legislation granted married women the right to own property in their own names, a radical departure from the previous legal framework.

Although women finally got the right to vote in 1919, it wasn’t until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) of 1974 that lenders were prohibited from discriminating on the basis of sex or marital status when considering credit applications, including those related to mortgages. This landmark legislation was a significant step forward in ensuring that women had equal access to housing and the ability to secure loans for homeownership.

Over the years, we’ve witnessed a powerful shift as more and more women have become homeowners, landlords, real estate investors, and professionals in the field. Today, women are actively involved in all aspects of property ownership, from purchasing homes to managing real estate portfolios and leading real estate agencies. According to an analysis of the most recent US Census Bureau data published last month by Lending Tree, single women are more likely than their male counterparts to own their homes in all but three states. Apparently, 2.71 million more homes are owned by single women than men. Across the nation, single women own 10.95 million homes, while single men own 8.24 million. Now that’s progress!

There is much to celebrate but it's important to acknowledge the ongoing challenges that women, particularly women of color and marginalized communities, continue to face in the realm of homeownership. Disparities in income, access to affordable housing, and discriminatory lending practices still present barriers to equal homeownership opportunities. We’ve come along way, but we haven’t reached the finish line yet.

Sources: 1. "Married Women's Property Rights" - National Park Service 2. "The Equal Credit Opportunity Act" - Federal Trade Commission 3. "Women's History Month: The Evolution of Women's Property Rights" - National Women's History Museum. 4. New York Post “Single Women Own More Homes than Single Men in the US”


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