Tuesday, March 4, 2014

According to a recent US survey by the National Association of Realtors, the number of single people purchasing homes may have dipped over the last few years, but single women are boldly buying at about twice the rate of single men.

That means one out of every five homes sold is sold to a single woman! According to South African bond originator ooba, local statistics show that the past four years have also seen significant growth in this market. This was also confirmed by Tony Ketcher, MD for Seeff Properties in Randburg who says, “We are definitely seeing a year on year increase of single woman purchasing properties.”

According to the results of the research, single women accounted for 16% of home- buyers last year, lower than the long-term average of 20%. But, they were still well ahead of single men, who accounted for only 9%.

“This trend began in the 1990s,” says 1st for Women Insurance’s Executive Head, Robyn Farrell, adding, “one factor as to why single men have not caught up might be because men don’t think about buying a house until they meet the right woman and decide to settle down. The statistics are also partly due to demographic changes. More women than ever are primary breadwinners in their households.”

The results of a recent South African census revealed that although the average South African household is still headed by a man, the number of women breadwinners is on the increase and is currently about 16%.

Stats SA recently recorded the number of households headed by single women at about 14% of the population. Women’s positions are becoming better in the workplace too with more women occupying managerial roles.  This has helped shift the ratio of homebuyers.

“More women are realising that they needn’t stay in unhappy relationships because of financial reasons,” says Farrell. “They can earn their own living and buy their own houses without depending on men for that. 

“Single women are more proactive these days when it comes to planning their financial futures and have clear goals about what they want in terms of wealth creation so they plan for it.”

Farrell has the following advice for women who want to enter the property market:

  • Security is a major concern for single women home-buyers. Make sure that the home has suffecient security like high walls, security gates, electric fences and an alarm system that is linked to a reputable armed-response company. The more security you have, the better your insurance premium will be!
  • Always bring experts in before you buy a house to assess the building and check for areas of structural weakness; damage or damp.
  • Gain knowledge about the property market – for instance the best time to buy, crime statistics in the area you’re interested in etc.
  • A positive credit profile and stable employment history will assist you when you apply for home-loan finance. As banks have become stricter with lending, it’s important that you present evidence of a consistent income stream. Pre-qualification will streamline the buying process.
  • Shop aggressively for the best home-finance deal.
  • Don’t think of a home as an investment that will make you rich but buy a home that you can afford to pay off, maintain and live in over a long period of time.
  • Do you have a sufficient deposit to put down? This will mean a more favourable bond rate, which will save you in interest over the term of the loan.
  • Don't stretch your budget too far – if your bond is more than one-third of your gross pay, it’s a mistake. Your bond should never mean that you can’t put at least 10% of your income into a retirement plan. Also, take into account council taxes and the other expenses of maintaining a property.

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