Title page for ETD etd-10282008-191121

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Lloyd, Jessica Ann
Author's Email Address jlloyd04@vt.edu
URN etd-10282008-191121
Title The Single Female Home Buyer: A Qualitative Analysis of Social, Psycological, and Behavioral Themes
Degree PhD
Department Housing, Interior Design, and Resource Management
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Parrott, Kathleen R. Committee Chair
Beamish, Julia O. Committee Member
Few-Demo, April L. Committee Member
Goss, Rosemary Carucci Committee Member
  • Single female
  • homeowners
  • gender norms
  • housing norms
  • female preferences
  • behavior
  • housing design
  • marriage
  • social identity
  • reasoned action theory
Date of Defense 2008-10-24
Availability unrestricted

According to the State of the Nation’s Housing (Harvard, 2005) more than one in five homebuyers is a single woman and twice as many unmarried women as unmarried men are buying homes. Notably unmarried women make up more than one-third of the growth in real estate ownership since 1994.

The purpose of this study was to examine this cultural phenomenon. Utilizing an interpretative qualitative paradigm, in-depth interviews, social identity and reason action theories, this research explored the social, psychological, and symbolic meanings single, never-married, women in their 30s and 40s attributed to home buying as well as the design and purchasing behaviors they displayed.

In an effort to create and refine the questionnaire for this research, a five participant pilot study was conducted in southwestern Virginia. The main body of this work consisted of 12 in-depth interviews and included six participants from southwestern Virginia, five participants from northern Virginia and one from western Pennsylvania. The average age of the participants was 39.5 years, with a range of 29 – 48 years.

In total, 21 themes emerged in this study: 18 were strongly supported and mentioned by at least 50%, or six of the twelve, dissertation participants, while three received moderate support and were discussed by at least 25%, or three of the twelve, respondents. The themes were further divided into the following categories: behavioral themes which answer the question of the how women approach the buying process; behavioral themes which answer the question of what women buy, psychological themes which answer the question of why single women buy; social themes which promote a sense of security or stability; and social themes which promote a sense of isolation.

The findings of this study can be used to enhance the residential construction industry and to assist housing professionals who routinely interact with female homebuyers. In addition, these findings suggest the continued need for home-buyer education and further research.

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