Single women dominate South Africa’s first-time home buyers market

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Women are the leading gender in the first-time home buyer market in South Africa. According to Hayley Ivins-Downes, this trend has held true between 2015 and 2020.

This is despite the dramatic falloff in sales this year caused by impact of Covid-19 and the lengthy lockdown resulting in various restrictions across industries”.  This is despite the real estate industry not being able to operate and the lengthy closure of the Deeds Office.

The graph below highlights that first-time female buyers peaked in 2018 at just short of 43 000 (39%), out of a total of 109 816 – and well ahead of the men’s total of 32 600 (30%).

While single women purchase more property than any other category of purchaser, women typically lag both ‘multiple buyers‘ and ‘single men‘ when it comes to the average house prices (see the graph below).

The data further reveals that the average price women are purchasing property for is just short of R500 000 as opposed to the ‘married couple’ and ‘single male’ categories where the average price sits in the region of R600 000; ‘multiple buyers’ have spent an average of approximately R770 000 this year. The lower purchasing prices for females could reflect the lower earning capacities of women still prevalent today and this could also be indicative of the number of single mothers.

Although women begin buying homes before twenty years of age, there is a nearly 40% jump from the 21 to 25 year age group to the 26 to 30 year age group with sales to women peaking in the 31 to 35 year age bracket. Following this, there is a gradual decline in purchasing homes as women get older. This follows the pattern of bulk property purchasing taking place when earnings rise and when family needs to come into play.

While sales to women in estates and sectional titles have remained relatively consistent over the past five years, freehold property is by far the most popular – a trend seen across categories and value bands.

The data also shows that sales declined between the years of 2017 to 2019 in line with the generally deteriorating economic conditions, before falling off dramatically in 2020 as Covid-19 and the lockdown made themselves felt,” explains Ivins-Downes (see graph below).

Most homes were purchased in Gauteng and the Western Cape where most sales have been recorded in affordable areas and new developments, supporting the view that female home ownership is spreading rapidly in this market segment.

The increasing purchasing power of black women is evident in the graph below, as bonds granted to black females went from just over R15 million in 2016 to around R18 million in 2019 – the highest that year of any racial category.

There are two significant trends which the data reinforces: firstly, that first time home ownership mirrors the changing balance of economic power between men and women, and secondly, that black women in particular are an important market segment”, concludes Ivins-Downes.