Single women account for 27% of all home purchases nationally, according to Jan Davel, MD of the RealNet estate agency group. And according to FNB, women, which make up 35% of the bank’s Housing Finance book, have the lowest default rate.
Davel said the increase in the number of single women buyers is in line with the progress SA is making in gender equality and the economic empowerment of women, as indicated in the Women Matter Africa report released by McKinsey & Co and other recent research.
“…because there are more opportunities now for all women to earn more and be financially independent, it is also getting easier for single women to become homeowners – as they are clearly keen to do,” said Davel. “Of course the reasons they may have for wanting to buy a home can vary widely – from simply being ready for a home of their own, for example, to relocating for work, moving closer to family, or needing a larger or smaller living space. In our experience, single women buying homes are from many different age groups, backgrounds and cultures.
“Some may have just finished university and be setting out on their careers, while others may be recently divorced or widowed; some have children and some not, and some may be moving from a family home to a smaller property in order to retire.”
Davel said that while location and security were important to all buyers, single women would pay a premium to live in an area that is not only safe and convenient, but also has a solid sense of community – where they feel welcome and believe they will be able to integrate and interact easily and quickly feel included in what is going on.
“Taking this trend even further, many single women will choose to live in security complexes and estates for the company of near neighbours and the communal facilities as much as the additional security – and may even compromise on the size or cost of their home to do so,” he said, noting the most popular home choices were those with at least two bedrooms and two bathrooms, modern kitchens and low-maintenance gardens and finishes. “In addition, single women generally like to see what they are buying, so are less likely to buy off-plan and more likely to buy a pre-owned home.
“What is more, single women tend to be financially astute and practical about what they can afford and/or how much they want to pay, so they won’t waste time looking at unsuitable properties. However, sellers should know that they often do want to view those homes that they do like several times – at different times of the day or week and perhaps with different friends or relatives – before they commit to a purchase.”
Women have come a long way when it comes to control of money and finances, says Eunice Sibiya, head of consumer education at FNB. “Women have more control of the household budget, their own spending and working towards financial goals than ever before,” she said.