D.C. DELIGHT: Shown here, MetroPlace in Suitland, Md., where Hovnanian Enterprises offers a mix of townhomes and condominiums within close proximity of Washington, D.C. Photos: Courtesy Hovnanian Enterprises; Cheryl Muhr

When Allison Crouch bought her first place at the age of 24, she knew she wasn't going to live there forever. Like many other young women, she had her eye on the future, imagining the eventual arrival of a husband and perhaps some kids. Her first house was an investment into that future.

Six years later, with no husband in the picture, she decided it was time to move on.

“I was waiting around for my husband who never showed up,” says Crouch, a high school teacher in Washington, D.C. “I couldn't wait around forever.”

So wait she didn't. Crouch sold her first place and, with the money she made, began house shopping. In September, Crouch moved into a brand new townhome and got everything else that she wanted: a deck, a garage, a fireplace, a home located close to everything that she needed. She got the home of her dreams.

Crouch is not alone. More and more, single women around the country are making the leap into homeownership sans husband or kids. And these young, savvy professionals are looking at their housing options with a much more discerning eye than ever before.

They are the new generation of home buyers poised to rock the real estate world—women with income and no kids, or WINKs.

Who are they? What do they want? And how can builders deliver? To answer these questions, BIG BUILDER partnered with real estate advisors Robert Charles Lesser & Co. to take a closer look at the group primed to become the home building trendsetters of the future.