Women are taking firmer control of their financial independence, with more applying for bonds to buy a property. In the last decade, the number of BetterBond’s applications from women has increased by 12%, with 40% of all applications received this year being from women. Also, in 2010, only 14% of bond grants were for women, and now that number is sitting at 41%.
“While there is still a gender pay gap in South Africa – men earn an estimated 35% more than women for doing the same work in some professions – it is encouraging to see the significant growth in bond grants for women,” says Jenny Rushin, BetterBond’s National Development Manager, BetterBond. “With the current lending environment and interest rates at historic lows, property is now even more accessible to women.”
Single women are also thinking of their long-term financial stability and considering property as a viable investment option. “Last year, 60% of BetterBond’s applications from women were from single women,” says Rushin. This supports Lightstone data released this month which shows that over the past five years, single women first-home buyers have outnumbered male, married couples and multiple buyers.
Michelle H, 33, is a South African teaching in China. She found herself stranded in South Africa while here for her summer holiday, because of COVID-19. Looking to supplement her income, and to add to her property portfolio – she already owns two – she decided to invest in two buy-to-let properties in Cresta. Women are no longer waiting until they are married, or have children, to enter the property market. Like Michelle, many are seeing property as a means of establishing their financial independence.
Pule M, 45, initially thought she was too old to buy her first property, as she is eight years older than the average woman who applies to BetterBond for a home loan. But she is one of many who realise that it is never too late to get a foot on the property ladder. Rushin says all women buyers should have a credit score, and enough cash flow to cover monthly expenses as well as bond repayments. “Having a “rainy-day fund” for unexpected expenses, such as home repairs or additional costs, is also recommended.”
Pule says she approached a bond originator for guidance as she knew very little about what was needed to make her dream of being a homeowner a reality. Once she had pre-approval, she knew what she could afford when she started looking for a property. Pule says she was surprised to find that there were no costs involved for the bond origination service.
As BetterBond applied to more than one bank on her behalf, Pule was able to secure the bond amount she needed. Not only was her application approved, but Pule was granted a 100% bond, meaning that she did not have to pay a deposit to secure her new home in Mamelodi East.
BetterBond’s average loan amount for women applicants is R935 000, says Rushin, which means that no transfer duty is payable on these properties. The threshold for transfer duty costs was raised to R1 million earlier this year, making it easier for more buyers – particularly first-home buyers – to afford the property without having to pay a percentage of its value to SARS.
According to Lightstone, freehold properties in emerging suburbs, such as Parklands in Cape Town and Soshanguve South near Pretoria, continue to be popular among women buyers. Michelle bought her property in a complex in Cresta, because of its convenient location close to schools, and controlled access. As a single woman, with no dependents, it was also important for Pule to find a secure, low-maintenance property.
Pule may have been the first woman in her family to own property, but her sister is keen to follow suit, now that she has seen that women are successfully securing bonds and that the current interest rate means that they can afford more than before. “Not only are more women applying for bonds, but the average purchase price of the homes they can afford is steadily increasing, suggesting that women’s improving buying power is having a significant impact on the property market,” says Rushin.