Q: What has changed over the past decade in terms of the interest women are taking in property investment?

A lot has changed in terms of women investing in property, Women are the top property buyers, with single women being a large percentage of that. Lightstone data released showed that over the past five years, single female first-time property buyers have outnumbered males, and married couples. This indicates that women are buying property, which is a significant step in terms of wealth creation. It is through acquiring that first property, which is usually a primary residence, that one is able to go on to acquire secondary investment properties. However, we still have a long way to go as women generally are not at the same level economically and have a lot of catching up to do in order to close the gender wealth gap.

Q: What do Absa stats say about women investing in property?

There is a growing demand for property investment opportunities by women, and Absa has positioned itself in order to provide solutions that assist them with buying their first home and also investing in property. Playing an active role in supporting the property investing community shows Absa’s commitment to assist more people to invest in property.

Q: How difficult has it been for women to gain confidence in the property market - especially given cultural and historical male bias?

It is incredibly difficult for women to gain the confidence to invest in property because it is still a male-dominated industry that is intimidating to women. Transformation in this sector is painfully slow. Most of the players in the property value chain are predominately men, whether it’s agents, valuers, attorneys, bankers etc. As a woman you are, therefore, swimming against the tide to make it in this industry. Women also are traditionally paid less than men, which does not leave enough disposal income to invest. It wasn’t so long ago that women were not even allowed to buy property in their own names, so property investing is still new and very intimidating as they develop the negotiating prowess needed on property deals.

Q: Are we seeing women actually building property portfolios?

Yes, that is a growing trend, Ooba, the bond originator, recently released statistics that show an increase in second home mortgage applications, which means that a lot of people are now buying second homes, despite the current economic challenges which is encouraging. However, there is still a long way to go. There is also a growth in property stokvels, where women are raising funds as a collective in order to invest in property. As we know, there are high acquisition costs when it comes to property, but when a group come together, they are able to share those costs and benefit from the investments made. There is also an element of being able to collectively take on risk which helps to minimise those risks at the individual level.

Q: How do women uplift other women and encourage them to build wealth through property investment?

Representation matters. When women invest in property and share their journeys, it encourages others and gives them a sense of hope that they too can invest in property. That is why coaching programmes that work specifically with women are so crucial. I have witnessed this in my own coaching program, which comprises predominantly women. It is when women see others (to whom they can relate) succeed that entrenches a sense of belief that if ‘she can do it, so can I’. Private Property also shines a spotlight on women that are successful. Every effort reinforces the idea that women are being empowered to grow, to learn and to be financially independent.



Q: Why is it better for women to invest in property than other investment vehicles?

Property is a tangible asset: you can see and touch it; live in or rent it out; it’s an easily-understood market; and it is not as susceptible to shocks such as the stock market, which can result in dramatic drops in value, in a relatively short period of time. Property maintains its value.

Q: How should we measure women's success in property investment?

We should look at the success holistically, and not individually at this time. But there will always be women who are trailblazers and pioneers who will clear the path for others to follow. In some cases, it may take the success of a few women who will turn the tide and open up further opportunities for others to succeed.

Q: What more could be done to encourage women to take the step and buy property?

One of the potentials is to provide home loan solutions for, particularly, low-income female earners. Absa recently announced that they will be receiving a R2 billion loan from the International Finance Corporation which will be used to expand its affordable mortgage business. This is a big step forward in ensuring that low-income earners, which are predominantly women, will have the opportunity to be granted a home loan.

Research conducted by Old Mutual indicates that the average South African family belongs to at least one stokvel. Overall banks could find ways to explore stokvels systems that allow their members to qualify for improved access to funding. Overall, I think there needs to be some out-of-the-box thinking and creative solutions that should manifest so that women can play a bigger role in solving SA’s housing crisis.

Courtesy of Kerry Dimmer & Private Property



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