Women in Australia continue to trail men in the home ownership stakes amid crippling interest rate rises and falling home values.
CoreLogic’s 2023 Women & Property report released ahead of International Women’s Day, found men were associated with ownership of 3.1% more of the housing stock analysed than women. Female-only ownership of dwellings was 26.8%, while male-inferred ownership was 29.9%. Property owned jointly between males and females was 43.4%.
CoreLogic Head of Australian Research and report author Eliza Owen said while it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why the disparity in dwelling ownership prevails, there were some interesting differences between genders across property and ownership types and regions.
Ms Owen said investment property remains at the centre of gender disparity, with Aussie men owning seven percentage points more of the investment properties analysed than women.
“Most of the discrepancy between male and female ownership of property could be explained by ownership of investments,” said Ms Owen.
“Male-only names were associated with 36.3% of investment properties, which is higher than both the share of investment properties owned by women (29.5%), and the share owned by men and women jointly (34.2%).
“There were some hot spots where women did actually own more of the investment stock analysed than men. These were generally the areas that women had high ownership of dwellings overall, including the North Sydney and Hornsby SA4 region, where women had ownership of almost 39% of investment properties analysed.”
What women own, and where they own it
Men were found to own 4.3% more house stock in Australia, while women trumped men in the medium to high density sector by 1.1%.
Ms Owen cautioned this has implications for the gender wealth gap as detached houses have been associated with higher longer-term capital gains over time.
“Detached houses, and higher-value property more broadly, has been associated with higher longer-term value growth so women may be missing out on a chunk of capital gains from the Australian housing market because of the type of properties they are purchasing,” said Ms Owen.
“Stand-alone homes have achieved an annual growth rate of 5.1% per year over 10 years to January 2023, compared to 3.4% in the unit market. However, women also tended to own more properties in markets that have a relatively high price point, so those women who are able to access the property market may have done well in terms of long-term capital growth.”
The top five regions for female-only inferred ownership were Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs (37.3%), North Sydney and Hornsby region (36.6%), City and Inner South (36.1%), and Ryde (34.7%), and Melbourne’s Inner region (34.0%).
Ms Owen said income could be an important factor, with some of the wealthiest, inner-city regions of Sydney seeing a higher portion of property owned by women.
“An important factor playing into whether women own a home or not, is income. Research suggests that women are more inclined to invest in real estate than their male counterparts where they have the resources to do so,” she said.
Income and the property ownership gap
Ms Owen said there are several factors that may have historically hindered home ownership among females relative to males.
“In past reports, we have noted the role of the gender wage gap potentially contributing to women falling behind on asset accumulation, particularly where it may take women longer on average, to accumulate a deposit for a home,” said Ms Owen.
The gender wage gap in Australia as of November 2022 was 13.3%, down from 14.1% in May of 2022, and the decade average of around 16%.
Ms Owen said this narrowing of the gender pay gap was driven by tightening labour market conditions through the pandemic, where full-time ordinary earnings rose slightly faster for women than men.
“Analysis of full-time earnings of males and females suggest it would take men around 8.3 years to save up a 20% deposit for the median value in Australia for men, compared to 9.4 years for women – and that’s based on full-time wages.
“While full-time earnings are used for the official measure of the gender pay gap in Australia, women are overrepresented in part-time employment, which tends to attract lower pay. Based on labour force figures as of December 2022, women accounted for 68.1% of Australians in part time employment, and 38.7% of those in full-time employment. This further contributes to the overall pay disparity between men and women, which may have implications for access to home ownership,” said Ms Owen.
Addressing the gender gap
Ms Owen said empowering women through greater financial literacy and education about property investment may help to erode this disparity in ownership over time.
At the same time, policies like shared equity schemes could help more women attain home ownership, by addressing the relatively low wages of women.
“Shared equity schemes are about targeting home ownership among relatively low-income households, and providing assistance to those who might not otherwise have owned a home. That’s important not just for women, but any group who is over-represented in low income households.”