Residential Women in Real Estate Women's Month 2023

The Eastern Cape hails as SA’s female homebuying hotspot

First-time homebuyers are surpassing their male counterparts in SA’s property market.

When looking back to 2012, focusing only on buyers who were single and/or purchasing property on their own, women accounted for 47.45% of home loan applications, while males made up the balance. Fast forward to 2023 and year-to-date, women now account for 53.1% of first-time home loan applications received. The first-time homebuying demand curve started shifting in favour of female homebuyers from 2018 to the current levels.

Women accounting for the lion’s share of first-time applicants underpins a trend towards increased purchasing power, which continues to gain momentum year-on-year,” comments Careen Mckinon, Head of Sales for ooba Home Loans.

ooba Home Loan’s latest statistics also show an increasing demand from repeat female homebuyers – now at 46% – underpinning a strong appetite for investment in this category. 

Women are prioritising homeownership and making savvy long-term investment decisions. Whether it’s an investment property, a lock-up-and-go apartment for a working professional or a family home, property is an asset that will, in turn, create generational wealth for future generations to come.”

The Eastern Cape is currently South Africa’s female homebuying hot spot. “A staggering 61.7% of all applications received from first-time homebuyers in the Eastern Cape are from female homebuyers. The same can be said for repeat buyers in the Eastern Cape, where single women account for 54.8% of regional applications.”

Interestingly, and apart from the Free State (the country’s current overall first-time homebuying capital), all regions have experienced heightened demand from first-time female applicants over the past decade.

Unsurprisingly, the Western Cape, the region with the highest average purchase price, has received the largest percentage of applications from both first-time and repeat female homebuyers in the R1.5 million-plus price band,” says Mckinon. “This is followed by Gauteng North and West where repeat female homebuyers account for more than half the applications received.”

Looking to the average purchase price for this demographic, Mckinon notes that the shift in demand to the lower price bands halted in 2021 before reversing marginally thus far this year. This is largely influenced by the quick succession of interest rate hikes since late-2022.

While sectional title properties are gaining ground, the majority of female applicants are still opting for full title (free-standing) homes. 

Our latest statistics show that the preference of almost 60% of first-time female homebuyers is to acquire a free-standing home. This choice of property is even more prevalent amongst repeat female homebuyers, where 65% of property sales are concluded against free-standing homes. This may indicate that the homes purchased are being used to accommodate families.”

We do, however, expect this trend to evolve over time. We are seeing a shift towards sectional title property purchases by first-time female homebuyers, largely driven by their affordability and the need for increased safety and security.”

Looking to the KwaZulu Natal region, for instance, which recorded a 19% increase in sectional title applications by first-time female homebuyers from 2010 to 2023 – now at 52%.”

Repeat female homebuyers are taking advantage of the current lending climate, and now account for a larger share of the property investment market.

While there has been a marginal increase in demand from first-time female homebuyers for investment or rental homes, applications from repeat female buyers have risen sharply over the past three years. “The Western Cape continues to lead the way in this category, with almost a third of repeat female homebuyers in this province acquiring property to create a diversified investment portfolio.”

Looking back at 2012, the average first-time female homebuyer was 34 years old, while the average first-time male homebuyer was 31.1 years old. “However, more recently, the average age of male buyers has risen quicker – now at 35.1 years (a three-year increase) – versus the average age of female buyers which is now at 35.7 years.”

This same trend holds true for the average age of repeat homebuyers, with women now up by 1.9 years from 2012 (41.5 years old) and men up by three years – now at 42.6 years old.

We believe that this accelerated trend of female buyers exercising their property purchasing power is set to continue and it’s great to see.”

The banks continue to grant competitive interest rates on home loans to stimulate the economy, and activity in the market is set to resume at levels previously experienced in the months to come with interest rates forecast to remain unchanged for the remainder of the year. The first interest rate cut is anticipated in the first quarter of 2024,” she concludes.