Women less likely to own property than men

Women less likely to own property than men

By Dear Molly

And it has a knock-on effect long into retirement

A study by data company CoreLogic has found women are less likely to own a property than men, and ultimately it could impact our financial wellbeing and income well into retirement.

But what’s the reason that women might be less likely to have a home of their very own? Well turns out it’s a convoluted mix of some very familiar suspects.

The data

CoreLogic’s data reveals Australia’s residential housing market is worth an estimated $7.9 million.

By far, the most common type of home ownership is joint, and in this scenario, 78 per cent of properties have a male listed as joint owner, while 74 per cent are jointly owned by a woman.

When it comes to sole ownership, the gap starts to widen – 28 per cent of Australian properties are solely owned by a male, while 24 per cent of solo homeowners are female.

Although on the surface the divide doesn’t look large, CoreLogic notes property ownership rates contribute to a broader wealth gap, “which can have significant implications for women well into retirement”.

And that’s because their research further finds property ownership contributes to more than half of the average Australian household’s wealth.

So what’s the reason women are less likely to own a home than men?

The pay gap

The gender pay gap is considered the largest barrier to property ownership for women, and of course it’s also the reason women retire with less superannuation.

CoreLogic notes the gender pay gap in Australia is currently 13.9 per cent, and there are numerous factors contributing to it.

  • Women are far more likely to work in industries with lower rates of pay, such as childcare, administration and cleaning.
  • They are also more likely to be engaged in part-time employment or take time out of the workforce for unpaid care roles.

“For many women, the end result is a lower earning potential over the course of their working lives,” CoreLogic explains.

A compounding effect

It’s a well-known fact that by the time the average woman reaches retirement, she will have a much smaller superannuation balance at her disposal than her male counterpart.

Couple this with the fact she is less likely to own property, and the financial wellbeing gap widens further.

As CoreLogic states, property ownership can make a significant difference to the quality of a person’s retirement.

“Those who own their home outright when they retire will typically have substantially more income at their disposal to fund a comfortable lifestyle. Plus, they’ll avoid the stress of having to keep up with rent or mortgage payments,” they note.

Meanwhile, women tend to live longer than men “so it’s vital that their superannuation will last the distance,” the report found.

“But if they don’t own property, their retirement savings could end up being eroded by ongoing housing costs, putting them at greater risk of falling into poverty.”

What’s the answer?

Well part of solving that problem comes down to reducing that gender pay gap, but CoreLogic also argues it’s about education and financial literacy for women and girls.

Meanwhile, they suggest financial institutions may have a role to play when it comes to recognising the specific challenges that women face.

You can read the full CoreLogic white paper on women and property here.

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