When Jason Baker sized up his housing options, he found himself wincing at the thought of tossing rent money down the drain.

That was all the motivation the 29-year-old single needed to purchase a one-bedroom, one-bath condo at Grand Bend at Greenbay, a new 49-unit condominium building west of downtown Evanston.

"Honestly, I was tired of writing a rent check every month that got me nowhere," he recalls of his decision to buy. "I've been renting in Evanston for about three years. It looks like I'm going to be here for a while, and I like Evanston. It's got the 20-something demographic, lots of entertainment and restaurants. I do see it as a good investment."

Reflecting on the housing status of his peers, Baker says he may be something of a minority as a single male home buyer.

"My contemporaries back East from college haven't gotten to the point where they can make a purchase," he says.

If men are from Mars and women from Venus, it also appears they're light years away from one another in their willingness to become homeowners while single.

Anecdotal evidence that single men trail single females in home buying is backed by solid quantitative proof.

The National Association of Realtors reports single women currently make up better than one in five home buyers. The association's 2005 survey of 7,800 home buyers and sellers found single women comprised 21 percent of all home buyer households, far outstripping the 9 percent registered by single men. Both trailed married couples, which made up 61 percent of the market.

A recent study by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies noted that there are more unmarried women in the population, more women are delaying marriage and more women are forming their own households. Those factors help account for the $550 billion of real estate purchased by unmarried females between 2000 and 2003, the Harvard study concluded.

Talk to home builders, and many will tell you they just don't see as many single men as they do single women buyers.

"We have found that to be the case," said Janey Amidei, vice-president of sales and marketing with Streamwood-based Kirk Homes.

"I think single men might be more interested in gadgets, big-screen TVs, golfing and boating," she said. "I don't think they're looking to set up a cozy home the way a married or single woman is.

"Women have nesting instincts from day one, to play with dolls, take care of younger brothers and sisters, and have pride in putting together their first home. They're interested in curtains, bedding, linens, valances, draperies and wall coverings."

Alternative theories about the comparative paucity of male buyers are advanced by Andrius Augunas, founder and principal of Rokas International, the developer of 2100, a 163-unit development at 2100 South Indiana Ave. in Chicago's South Loop.

Many single men, he said, believe buying a home is tantamount to settling down, and don't see themselves taking that step anytime soon. In addition, he believes men are less likely to feel the need to display independence. And Augunas believes men don't possess the same ability as women to envision their anticipated needs down the road.

"They aren't the planners that women are," he commented.

Other observers believe it's not that there are so few single male buyers, but that it simply appears that way in a world where more and more home buyers are female.

"Because they're more college educated, there are more women in the workforce, and their earning power is at an all-time high," said Juli Jacobs, director of marketing with Deerfield's Jacobs Homes. "They're educated, they have jobs, they have money, and they also have the ability to trade up in terms of their residences."

In addition, Jacobs believes men don't get serious about real estate until they meet the right woman. Women, on the other hand, are looking to build their credit and their financial power, and recognize the best investment is real estate, she feels.