Why women are working harder to secure their own properties
Just a few decades ago, women were pretty reliant on working with a partner to purchase a property. If you’re a millennial, chances are your mum stayed at home or worked part-time while you were growing up. But times are changing. Generation X and millennial women are taking charge, building successful careers and bringing home salaries that make them financially independent in their own right.
We’re seeing statistics that back this up, too. According to Westpac’s 2017 Home Ownership Report, 22 per cent of women were considering buying an investment property in the next five years, compared to 11 per cent of men.
Meanwhile, ABS data shows that in 2015–16 more women (60 per cent) lived in a home they owned or bought than men (56 per cent). In addition, young women were more likely to buy a property than men: 26 per cent of women aged fifteen to thirty-five had a mortgage, compared to 20 per cent of men in that age demographic.
All the single ladies
It’s not just having the cash to buy on our own that’s driving change, it’s seeing the challenges of generations who’ve gone before us that’s inspiring us to take charge. Jeanette Large, CEO of Women’s Property Initiatives, a Victorian housing program that engages government, developers and private sector organisations to raise the capital required to build homes for vulnerable women. She says that women over 55 are at high risk of becoming homeless, even if they’ve lived comfortably in earlier years.
“Many of those women would never have thought they might become homeless,” she says. But it only takes one unexpected turn: job loss, divorce or a health problem. “They’re suddenly confronted with the fact that they don’t have the income that they used to have and surviving in the private rental market is not feasible.” She highlights the fact that the Newstart allowance pays just $279 per week. Alternatively, the aged pension is $415 per week. “If you’re wanting to have a rental property, pay your utility costs, your food . . . it’s shocking,” she says.
Falling in love with financial freedom
Lyndall Murray, 34, was adamant she must build her own nest egg, and not rely on the support of a partner, but she wasn’t closed to the possibility of love.
In 2014, she moved out of a home she had purchased with her ex-boyfriend and recovered slightly less than the $30,000 she’d invested. To save for her own property, she moved to a Byron Bay sharehouse and spent $180 per week on rent. “I hadn’t lived in a sharehouse since my early twenties so it was a transition that felt regressive, but I had a goal to buy my own property and this was part of the sacrifice,” she reflects.
After meeting her partner, Jono, who’s also 34, she maintained her passion for financial independence. So, as she looked to purchase a home, she struck a deal with Jono in which he would renovate the property in exchange for rent-free living, while Lyndall would remain the sole owner of the home. Lyndall bought a $457,000 shack in Evans Head on the New South Wales coast with her own $100,000 deposit. Jono renovates it between construction contracts.
What if they had to sell, though? “There was never any discussion about how we would split profits. He would say the house profits are mine,” Lyndall says. Technically Jono could have a defacto claim on the property, but Lyndall says, “He genuinely wanted to help me secure my financial future, whether we’re together in the future or not.”
Lyndall is a massive advocate for women securing their own financial freedom but points out that that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone forever. She does believe that it’s essential to go into relationships with eyes wide open and choose a partner who’s capable of frank conversations about money and who supports your personal goals. “Make sure you have a deep sense of self and that your partner amplifies your love for life,” she concludes.
This article was first published on realestate.com.au
Learn about the importance of securing your financial future in Nicole Haddow’s Smashed Avocado: How I cracked the property market and you can too, out now.