There’s been a paradigm shift in home buying patterns over the past decade, and it’s a gender gap statistic that appears set to accelerate. According to home loan comparison service, ooba home loans, female first-time home loan applications have increased by 52% over the past 10 years, with a decline of 5.9% for male first time home applications.
“What’s really exciting to see is the actual number of home loan approvals for female home buyers has also increased by 48 percent since 2008, compared to a reduction of 15,7% in the number of male home loan approvals over the same period,” says Rhys Dyer, CEO of ooba.
“We can attribute this to single women, especially single black women, now realising their right to home ownership and that there are more entrepreneurially-minded women in the marketplace.”
This almost belies the stats highlighting the prevailing wage disparity in South Africa; men are consistently paid more than women and, says a PWC report, there is no industry where women are paid more. SA does push women’s rights, and there are considerable efforts to equalize these gaps, particularly given that on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange women CEO’s play out at only 3.3 percent.
Nevertheless the platforms for access to home loan finance are equal, be that male or female. This is an imbalance that really should be addressed however, particularly in a developing nation such as South Africa where women are considered as crucial contributors to the economy and where their upliftment is a priority.
According to 2017 statistics from the World Economic Forum (WEF), women own less than 20% of the world’s land, which is staggering when you consider that half of the global population comprises women. The WEF highlights that for women, property ownership marks an end of economic uncertainty and vulnerability: ‘Women invest 90 percent of their income in their immediate families and, when they own their property, they have more power over household decisions, food security is enhanced, and prospects are greatly improved for their children and future generations.’
What we really need is a champion who will motivate for tax and interest incentives for women in the property market. In India for example, women are offered stamp duty reductions, property tax benefits, tax deductions on interest paid on home loans, home loan discounts from finance houses, and in some cases lucrative incentives like holidays and vouchers. In the state of Modi, also in India, women are either sole-owners or co-owners of affordable houses, empowering women of lower-income households to be homeowners.
As excellent household budgeters and known to be reliable payers of debt, women are becoming increasingly more focused on planning for a financially secure future, and they recognise the benefits that homeownership provides.
We highlight and honour three such women who have recently taken the bold step of purchasing a home in their own right, all for different reasons.
Verucia (37), bought her three-bedroom home in Strand, Cape Town, from Rawsons:
“I wanted a free-standing property, with open space and a good size garden. Security was important given that I am a single mom to a daughter. For the first time in eight years my daughter and I now each have our own bedroom and the third is used for my small home-based salon, which helps supplement my income as a secretary.
“I love that the property is opposite a play park, has beautiful mountain views, parking for three cars, and the cherry on top is that is comes with 24-hour security patrols at a very affordable month levy.
“It’s tough for a single mom to buy a home; it’s an expensive journey just making ends meet on a monthly basis. I had to raise R40 000 for the deposit and transfer/registration costs. This meant a number of sacrifices but like all other challenges, you have to meet them and make things work.
“I am proud that I’ve managed to do this on my own despite my trials and tribulations. And the best is that my daughter is now being raised in a safe and secure environment.”
Kerri-Jayne (28), bought her two-bedroom duplex in Clarendon, Pietermaritzburg, from Natal Property Consultants:
“It was my New Year’s resolution to buy a property as an investment in a good area where I knew I would realise a good return when I decide to sell one day. I planned to rent it out for a couple of years but have since changed my mind and now occupy it as a single woman.
“Ownership has given me a feeling of independence. I was apprehensive as to how my financials would work out but it’s amazing what you can do if you stick to a budget. In opposition to my male friends who own properties and want pools, big yards etc, all I really wanted was something cute, easy to manage and affordable, and a place that I would be happy to start my own family one day.
“The most stressful part of the process was the paperwork, which I found overwhelming. The bank that provided me with finance was not happy accepting my existing life insurance, which was three times less than the one they wanted me to take. The back and forth on this issue was a great strain but I stuck to my guns.”
Rose (35), bought her two-bedroom home in Honeydew, Johannesburg, from Engel & Völkers:
“I am an accountant so I have a good understanding of just how important owning property is as an investment. I was also tired of renting; it really is just money going down the drain. At least now I have real value in an asset, and if I ever decide to sell, I will at least get my money back.
“My new home offers good security, something I never had previously, and it’s in a much quieter complex, which I’m enjoying. It was a bit challenging going through the process of the purchase, but the help the agency gave me made it much easier. Having a good deposit helped, and that’s something I recommend to any woman with a dream to buy her own home; save as much as you can but don’t let it put a strain on your finances.
“I’ve actually made more friends since I bought my home because of this achievement. I’m not sure why though, because until its paid off, it really still belongs to the bank.”