Women are finally making strides up the property ladder

Women are finally making strides up the property ladder

TAKING CHARGE: Women have begun taking charge of their own financial futures in recent years, and single women home buyers now outnumber their male counterparts.

Recent data released by Stats SA has highlighted the importance of financial planning for women and the necessity of securing their financial futures by starting to save as early as possible and making long-term investments to ensure their golden years are not also their leanest years.

Chris Cilliers, chief executive and principal for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in the Winelands, says: “With South African women now living at least six years longer than men and almost half of all marriages (44.4%) ending in divorce, it’s imperative that women exercise their hard-won rights by taking charge of their finances and being active participants in financial decisions if married.

“Although women have long been the key decision-makers when it comes to home-buying decisions, it’s not that long since they could only buy property or enter into any type of binding contract with the authorisation of their fathers or husbands who then had legal ownership as well as managerial rights.”

These days, whether single or married, both sexes enjoy equal rights regarding financial autonomy and property ownership as stipulated in the Bill of Rights, but until recently the number of male buyers continued to far outnumber their female counterparts.

However, this has begun to change and, according to a 2017 FNB report by economic strategist John Loos, women are not only catching up, they are taking the lead with a slightly higher percentage of single women now buying homes than single men.

“For 2016 as a whole’ couples buying property were by far the largest estimate as always at around 83% of total buyers. By comparison’ single women made up an estimated 10.3% while single male buyers were 7.0%.”

The report further revealed that in the low-value affordable market women are much more likely to be the sole buyers of properties than men, which is an encouraging indication that women are investing in their futures as well as their family’s well-being.

Cilliers says that although buying a home and making such a large and long-term financial investment can be very daunting, women are beginning to realise that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages:

  • Renting offers no return on investment whereas, even in a depressed market, homes typically increase in value, build equity and provide a nest egg for the future.
  • Your costs are predictable and more stable than renting because they’re ideally based on a fixed-rate mortgage. Even if they are not, repayments linked to the interest rate are likely to increase well below annual rental inflation.
  • Locking yourself into a mortgage payment helps level out living expenses, so when income goes up it can be budgeted elsewhere.
  • Paying off a mortgage allows homeowners a long-term plan to significantly reduce their living expenses as they move toward a retirement budget.
  • Moving from rental to rental is a not only a major inconvenience but also a financial and emotional burden.
  • The interest and property tax portion of your mortgage payment is a tax deduction.
  • Staying put for longer periods of time also creates social benefits that range from established friendships with neighbours to community involvement and consistent educational opportunities for children.
  • Your investment can be leveraged to make another investment.
  • And, ultimately, owning a home means putting down roots and having a space that is truly yours.

Cilliers concludes: “We have come a long way since the era of Lilian Ngoyi, Rahima Moosa, Sophie Williams and Helen Joseph, four women who fearlessly lead the 9 August 1956 protest to the office of the prime minister petitioning the right of all women to possess a pass (identity documents).

“However, women still have a way to go before fully claiming their economic independence and, these days, that is becoming more important than it’s ever been.