5 Women on How They Bought a Home on Their Own

five women standing together in front of a neighborhood

The Balance / Julie Bang

Homeownership has long been known as one piece of the American dream that could put buyers on a clear track to a legacy of wealth. However, for women and people of color, that dream is often less achievable due to systemic challenges that have excluded these individuals. 

Inflation and stifling incomes have widened the gender and racial pay gaps significantly. Overall, in 2022, women make 83 cents for every dollar a white man makes. In comparison, Black women make 63 cents per dollar, and Latina women make 55 cents per dollar.

Meanwhile, the average cost of a house has increased, so mortgages and affordable homes are even harder to find. The median cost of a house rose to $368,200 in the first quarter of 2022. With this increase, first-time homebuyers of single-family homes are typically spending 28.4% of their monthly income on mortgage payments.

Despite the financial challenges, the number of women buying homes on their own has grown exponentially, outpacing single men. In 1981, 73% of homebuyers were married couples, 11% were single women, and 10% were single men. In 2022, the data stood at 60% married couples, 19% single women, and 9% single men, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The Balance spoke with five women about each one’s decision to buy a home in the U.S. and their experiences. Here are their stories.

What These Women Learned

  • When looking to buy a home, set aside more money than you anticipate needing, and take time to learn how your various expenses will change throughout the year.
  • The mortgage approval process with one income can be challenging, so organize your finances as soon as possible to ease the stress of the lending process.
  • It's worth every penny to shop around, both for a home itself and the mortgage.
  • When purchasing a home, treat it as a math equation. Calculate how much you can afford to spend per month and work backward to get your buying budget, then stick to it.
  • Make sure your voice is paramount during the homebuying process. People are quick to give opinions when going through the process, but do it your way.

Danielle Desir Corbett, Connecticut

Homeownership was always the goal while Danielle Desir Corbett was living with her mom post-graduation. She said she was intentional about paying off her student loan debt and saving as much as possible. Her income from a past full-time job, coupled with various side hustles including selling e-books, podcasting, and hosting workshops made it possible for her to pay off $63,000 in student loan debt.


More than half of homebuyers with student loans said their debt delayed the purchase of their houses.

“Once I was done paying off my debt, I happened to have enough money for a seamless transition to move out and purchase a home,” Desir Corbett said.

But, she said she got a lot of pushback from family members who believed people should only buy a home with a spouse. At the time, she was single and not dating anyone.

”I was adamant about not waiting because I had no prospects and I knew potentially, the housing market could change,” she said. “I was ready right now.”

In the end, she said buying her home was a worthwhile investment because her property value has increased four times since she made the purchase. “However, I would say I didn't understand the struggles I would face as a single homebuyer of a multi-bedroom house to the point that I had to get roommates,” Desir Corbett said. “I wasn’t prepared for the unlimited extra bills, and was in the hole for the first one to two years in the house.”


There are many additional expenses to owning a home that many people overlook. This includes fees and taxes when you first purchase your home, annual maintenance costs, and unexpected repairs that may crop up.

Prior to having roommates, she also struggled with the loneliness of owning a house alone and got a dog for companionship.

By 2022, five years after purchasing her home, Desir Corbett is married with one child and reaffirms that buying alone was a good decision. Having already navigated the homeownership process meant having to deal with one less stressor as a married couple.

“Because I had the courage to be a single woman homebuyer back then, it set us up for success as we grew our family,” she said. “Now we can build upon what I started and focus on other goals together.”

Her advice for women homebuyers: Have more money than you anticipate needing, and take time to learn how your expenses will change throughout the year.

Monzurat Oni, New York

Monzurat Oni was a renter who had never considered the possibility of owning an apartment in New York City. But that changed in 2019.

“The only people I knew who owned apartments were wealthy people in Manhattan. In my community, everyone I know who owns the property has a house,” she said. “I was searching for apartments to rent and when I saw an apartment open house, the price was less than any house I had seen on Zillow. I signed up for the open house, and things spiraled from there.”

Oni said she was wowed by the affordability. She put in an offer in September, and six months later in March 2020, she closed just before the coronavirus-related lockdowns were put into place across the city.


In 2020, the number of homeowners jumped by 2.1 million due in part to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I'm glad I bought an apartment before a house. Not only was it in my budget, but I don't have to shovel snow, my building has parking spaces, building staff sorts and takes out the garbage, etc.,” Oni said. “At this stage of my life and being single, having the financial benefits of ownership with a lot of the logistical burdens removed is a huge benefit.”

However, the downside is that she sometimes has a “fear of missing out,” Oni said. When she sees videos of major home decor renovations, she said she realizes that home improvement options are limited for her.

And while the price of the apartment was affordable for Oni, there was no avoiding the headache of mortgage approval alone, which she described as a “nightmare.”  

“Financial transactions are scrutinized and you have to have an answer for everything they [real estate attorney, mortgage broker, building management staff] ask without the benefit of being able to talk it out with someone else like, ‘Do you remember what we spent $800 on last October?' ” 

Her advice for women homebuyers: Organize your finances as soon as possible to ease the stress of the lending process.

Kathy Osborne, Florida

It had long been a goal of business owner Kathy Osborne to purchase property without the help of her spouse.

“I started my company in 2019, but I couldn’t get approval at the time because most mortgage lenders require two years of business ownership or self-employment,” she said.

She tabled the idea to allow sufficient time to pass and instead, bought a house with her husband. Together, they were able to get mortgage approval. “Even though I’m married, I think it’s important to build success independently and with him,” she said.

Once enough time passed to show lenders she had established a viable business, Osborne was ready to purchase a rental property on her own. She had been saving a portion of the income from her business to cover a 20% down payment.

However, the homebuying process wasn’t easy. Osborne had a hard time finding affordable insurance, dealt with difficult brokers, and was outbid by cash buyers. She stressed the importance of managing emotions and keeping options open. And on Aug. 1, 2022, Osborne closed on a property and became an official solo homeowner and investor.

Her advice for women homebuyers: It's worth every penny to shop around. If something falls through, know there will always be another property available.

Ilona Limonta-Volkova, Kentucky

When she was a renter, Ilona Limonta-Volkova always thought the first home she would purchase would also be her primary residence. However, when she moved back to Kentucky at the height of the pandemic, she realized there were other options when it came to homeownership as a single woman.

She decided to purchase a home on her own after inquiring about the experiences of friends and colleagues who owned rental properties. “I asked how they assessed the economics, what it was like managing tenants, and came to the conclusion that buying an investment property was something that I could try,” Limonta-Volkova said. “I borrowed a spreadsheet a friend created to calculate returns on rental properties, assessed my finances, and came up with a profile for the type of property I wanted to acquire.”

Affording property in metro areas like where she currently lives in California would be difficult, she said. So Limonta-Volkova chose to purchase a rental property in Kentucky.


Choosing the right location for a real estate property can be challenging, as there are many factors that impact the price. Remember that the right location for your next home will depend on your budget, household income, needs, and preferences, so do your research before making the decision to buy.

“I realized the sleepy hometown I had grown up in had developed rapidly in the years I was away, and marveled at the relatively low property values compared to cities I had lived,” she said.

Graduating without student loan debt and building a career in the financial industry with competitive salaries made saving for a down payment more manageable. She also practiced intentional spending by choosing to purchase less-expensive furniture and avoiding fancier cars to make it easier to save for the down payment while still spending on meaningful experiences.  Even after choosing affordability and implementing a financial strategy, Limonta-Volkova admits it was hard to shake the scarcity mindset.

“I was constantly second-guessing myself,” she said. “Money is always a concern, and I think it's dangerous to lull yourself into a false sense of comfort.”

Her advice for women homebuyers: Remove the emotion and think about it as a math equation. Calculate how much you can afford to spend per month, and work backward to get your buying budget, then stick to it.

Yvette Garfield, California

In early 2020, Yvette Garfield was faced with a choice: buy a home with her then-boyfriend or stay at the condo she owned in a different part of town. However, she chose a third option.

“I had to have a quiet moment with myself and figure out what was best for me,” she said. “I was very fortunate that I was in a position where I could do the down payment, so decided to do it all on my own.”

Because people have strong opinions about women homebuyers doing it alone, according to Garfield, she decided to keep the decision mostly to herself. That is not her typical style as a business owner.

“I have employees, and I’m usually bouncing ideas off people to make sure I make the right decision,” she said. “But for this, I kept it mostly quiet, besides from my Realtor and a few other necessary people. I didn’t tell people I was in escrow until it was a week before my birthday in July 2020.”

In the summer of 2022, she celebrated her two-year anniversary in the house, and maintains that purchasing when she did right before the housing market dramatically changed was a good decision.

Her advice for women homebuyers: Make sure your voice is paramount. People are quick to give opinions when going through the process, but do it your way.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Association of University Women. “Fast Facts: The Gender Pay Gap.”

  2. National Association of Realtors. “First Quarter of 2022 Brings Double-Digit Price Appreciation for 70% of Metros.”

  3. National Association of Realtors. “Single Women Buyers Outpace Men, but Not Without Sacrifices.”

  4. National Association of Realtors. “Student Loan Debt Holding Back Majority of Millennials From Homeownership.”

  5. Pew Research Center. “Amid a Pandemic and a Recession, Americans Go on a Near-Record Homebuying Spree.”

  6. Freddie Mac. “Qualifying for a Mortgage When You're Self-Employed.”

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