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It's Time to Increase Female Home Ownership

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There’s a lot to celebrate on International Women’s Day, but there’s also a hell of a lot to address too – inequality isn’t just something that’s happening in the workforce, this flows into the property market too.

New research shows women have lower rates of home ownership than men, likely stemming from the gender pay gap.

Less than a quarter (24.1 per cent) of properties in Australia were owned by a sole female, compared to 27.7 per cent owned by a sole male, the CoreLogic’s inaugural Women and Property: State of Play report found.

The report also looked at properties owned exclusively by women, which included homes with multiple owners who were all women, such as sisters or a same-sex couple. This accounted for 26.2 per cent of homes, while properties owned exclusively by men made up 29.9 per cent.

The neighbourhoods where women are more likely to own a home are areas with high household incomes. For example, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs female home ownership is at 34.8% compared to 31.7% for males. In Melbourne’s inner south, it’s 32.6% for females, 27.6% for males.

On the flipside, the greatest gap between exclusively male and female ownership of property was found in regional Western Australia, where female-owned property represented 19.8 per cent of those analysed compared with 29.3 per cent owned by men.

This suggests the women that are doing well are doing really well, but we’re missing the in-between.

So why is this such an important issue to address? Property ownership can affect women in retirement. Once you’re on a lower income at retirement – especially being housing-cost free – that can mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and a retirement in poverty.

We’ve seen too many stories of elderly women living in poverty. It’s time to make change now.

How do we make change? Well the pay parity sure would help. Our attitudes have sure shifted to a space of possibility, now we just need financial backing. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports the pay gap is sitting at 13.4 per cent, and this income inequality was perpetuating wealth inequality.

Currently, a woman earning the average weekly wage would take 10 months longer to save a deposit for the median valued-home than a man earning the average weekly wage.

The difference in incomes between women and men means men on higher incomes have slightly easier access to property. That in turn means they’re more likely to have a greater accumulation in wealth and a better retirement.

Of course, all we’re highlighting here is the singles market – the most common type of home ownership is still “mixed gender” – sitting at around 43.9% of the market. But we all know things can change, so this is an important conversation to have now.

How do you feel about female home ownership? I’d love to hear your ideas for change.

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