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Women have lower rates of home ownership in Australia than men: research

ASSA | 2021-03-08 09:47:46

Neighbourhoods where women are more likely to own a home are also areas with high household incomes, CoreLogic’s inaugural Women and Property: State of Play report found, showing how higher earnings can reduce barriers to the property market.

Property ownership can reduce the chance of poverty in retirement, the report warns, linking the pay gap to the wealth gap and retirement outcomes.

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 report found.

It 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 highest rates of female home ownership by one or more women were found in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, at 34.8 per cent compared to 31.7 per cent exclusively owned by men.

In Melbourne’s inner south, women’s exclusive ownership sat at 32.6 per cent, compared to 27.6 per cent for men.

    “Women in some instances have a great propensity to buy, but they need higher household incomes to do it,” Ms Owen said. 

    Someone earning the average weekly wage for women would take 10 months longer to save a deposit for the median valued-home than someone earning the average weekly wage for men, the report said.

    Greater Melbourne and regional Victoria were the areas with the highest level of gender parity in home ownership rates with less than 2 percentage points separating male and female ownership rates, the report found.

    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.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports the pay gap is sitting at 13.4 per cent, and this income inequality was perpetuating wealth inequality, Ms Owen argued.

    In a country where home ownership is a form of wealth creation and is espoused as an ideal to aspire to, women do not have the same opportunities to buy into it, Ms Owen said.

    “The problem is [that] home ownership is not created equally … it seems gender disparity is a part of that,” Ms Owen said.

    “There’s a difference in incomes between women and men, and that difference means men on higher incomes have slightly easier access to property … and they’re more likely to have a greater accumulation in wealth and a better retirement.”

    This gap in female ownership has a range of implications that contributes to inequality for women for years to come, Ms Owen said.

    “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,” she said. 

    The most common type of home ownership was “mixed gender”, in which both men and women owned a property, accounting for 43.9 per cent of homes.

    Ms Owen said this would imply it takes two or more incomes to buy a property, making it harder for lone households to get onto the property ladder.

    “What’s important about that, when it comes to women and real estate, is that women make up over 60 per cent of either single-parent or lone adult households,” Ms Owen said.

    “Yet at the Australia-wide level, sole property ownership among women is less than their male counterparts, which means women are over-represented in lone households, but they’re under-represented in property ownership.

    “The core of this analysis and its findings is that it’s all about wealth inequality and income inequality, and that doesn’t just span between men and women, it spans among women as well – including those that are single, sole parents or part-time workers.”

    The report analysed a 2021 snapshot of property ownership by gender across Australian by matching ownership gender with 41.2 per cent of properties. The analysis was based on first names listed in property data and did not take into account that some owners may identify as gender-diverse.