The largest group of homeowners in South Africa – a group that is showing no sign of losing interest – may surprise you.
Did you know that beginning 10 years ago, and for the past five years in a row, women have owned more than half of all registered residential property stock in South Africa?
This upward trajectory is a global one and significant enough to have buzzwords like the ‘the sheeconomy’ appear in headlines. In South Africa, where only 70 years ago South African women marched to the Union buildings to protest against the pass laws that restricted black women, it is perhaps even more impressive that the nation’s women investors are single, young and black.
But as always, let’s allow the numbers to do the real talking here.
Who are These Women?
During the period from 2010 to 2020, bond approvals for women in South Africa increased from 14% to 41%. - 60% of whom were single women and according to leading property data analysts, Lightstone, the percentage of women-only property purchases is showing no sign of slowing down.
By the end of July 2022, Lightstone data shows that women accounted for a whopping 57% (3 896 595) of the total volume of properties in the market (6 868 778), whether as single owners or in partnership. This doesn’t mean that they are buying at the bottom of the ladder because, in terms of value, the data shows that this accounted for 54% (R3 440b) of the total value (R6 414b) of residential properties registered at the Deeds Office.
Furthermore, the Lightstone data also suggests that even as solo purchasers, women on their own, are buying slightly more expensive property than men.
When it comes to first-time buyers, transactions that include women have been just above 60% for the past four years. This portion of the total value of those transactions is in the mid-50% range.
In terms of age, the profile of women buyers is trending towards the younger age bands – for instance, the under 35-year-old women buyers have increased from 25% in 2018 to 34% in 2021.
The Behaviour of Women in Investors in General
Property aside, it seems pertinent to ask how women investors stack up against their male counterparts in general.
A recent BizNews article states that, on the whole, women’s investments outperform those of men by an annual average of 0.4%. According to Overberg Asset Management wealth manager, Julie Anderson, this success may be attributed to a set of unique behavioural characteristics that include their tendency to be less risk-tolerant and more fact-driven. Anderson also reported that contrary to popular belief, women were less emotional in their investment decisions than men.
We believe it.
Driving the Trend
EasyProperties CEO, Rupert Finnemore who has observed the shift over the past two decades attributes the notable changes over the past five years in particular to the appeal of long-term security and financial independence that educated property investing offers.
“The results, showing that the general investment choices of women outperform men, even marginally, are an indicator to me that the merits of diversification across all asset classes, and certainly within the property sector itself, are valued by women,” says Finnemore.
“Wealth creation aside, I think the appeal of having a tangible asset that works for retirement planning as well as something that can be passed down to future generations, is extremely important to women investors,” says Finnemore.
Compared to the Rest of the World
What about the rest of the world?
When it comes to property market trends, both the US and UK have traditionally been helpful barometers to predict local investment activity. Most notably, could the fact that single women in the United States, outpacing single men as homebuyers since 1981, be an indicator that women investors in South Africa are only warming up?
According to the Property Professional, who neatly lists the facts at a glance, property is increasingly becoming a women’s game:
In the United States and UK:
- 87% of women assert no need to be married to own their own home (Bank of America).
- 65% of single women are prepared to invest before they have a partner.
- 45% of women between the ages of 25 to 44 will be single by 2030 (Morgan Stanley).
- Since 1981, single women have outpaced single men as homebuyers (National Association of Realtors).
- In 2022, single women homebuyers made up 17%, almost double than single men (9%).
- Sex and the City scriptwriter Jenny Bicksgot garnered 22,000 likes for this famous tweet: ’24 years ago I wrote an episode where Miranda is shamed for buying an apartment as a single woman. Now single women outnumber single men as homeowners.’
In the UK, despite the gender pay gap where it is reported that women need an average of 12 times their annual salary, compared to men who need 8 times their salary to buy a home, recent figures from Savills show that 33% of mortgages are for women owner-occupiers.
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