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Single women dominate buyers’ market in Gauteng

Single women are steadily coming into their own as property owners in South Africa. The latest data analysis by Lightstone Property show they dominate the buyers’ market in Gauteng and lead by a smaller margin in the Eastern Cape.

Cindy Bezuidenhout, lead analyst at Lightstone Property, explains in their latest newsletter that the data clearly shows that female buyers have been steadily increasing since 2016, noticeably overtaking the male and married couple markets. According to Bezuidenhout this trend could be an indication that women are becoming more economically empowered.

While this may come as a surprise to some, in South Africa single women have been overtaking single men as buyers of property for some time now. According to FNB, in 2012, 9% of home buyers were single women and 8% were men. By May 2014 women had increased their lead with FBN reporting that approximately 10% of residential homes in South Africa were bought by women and 9% by single men, with the balance made up by married couples.

This is in line with trends in the United States where single women accounted for 18% of homes bought in 2017, making them the second largest segment in the home-purchase market, behind married couples.

Bezuidenhout says judging by the volume of sales by buyer type in the four main provinces since 2013, single female owners largely dominate in Gauteng and then by a smaller margin in the Eastern Cape. Married couples outweigh other buyer types in the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal followed consecutively by single female and male buyers. “As reported by Lightstone earlier this year, Gauteng lead the property sales market in terms of volume, and it is very encouraging to see the female market owning this space,” says Bezuidenhout.

FNB earlier this year also reported that Gauteng had the highest percentage of first-time home buyers while Cape Town was on the other end of the scale. FNB’s household and property sector strategist John Loos explained that slow house price growth in Gauteng over the past decade or so has greatly improved home affordability, whereas at the other end of the spectrum, Cape Town’s home affordability has come under significant pressure during recent years of greater market strength and strong house price growth.

Bezuidenhout says all four of the main provinces (Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape), have experienced natural growth in property prices over the last five years. “What is interesting about average sale price amongst female buyers is that it has experienced growth in Gauteng and Western Cape but the picture is a bit more sporadic for the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal where average volume of sales and the average sale price dropped in 2017,” says Bezuidenhout. Single women may lead in terms of volume ownership in South Africa, but they buy mostly in the lower end of the property market where as single men are slightly in the lead when it comes to buying property in the R700 000 and upwards market. The gap between the average sale price could be attributed to the income inequality between the two sexes says Bezuidenhout.

Married couples are best able to afford properties of higher value across South Africa. Single men and women pay less for property with the latter dominating the lower end of the property market.

Looking at sales data since 2013, 20% more single women than men bought property in the R250 000 and under values band says Bezuidenhout. She says this value band is also the most popular across all purchasing types. “In a comparison between single males and female purchases over the last five years, males have very similar frequency of purchases across the value bands from R250 000 and upwards, but slightly exceed the volume of single female purchases in the above R700 000 value bands. It is heartening to see that females are becoming more active in these higher value property sales,” concludes Bezuidenhout.

What does this mean for the property industry? Well, considering the volume of completed sales transactions with single women (just under 140,000 on properties valued under R250,000), then he reckons chances are marketing efforts may be more effective if aimed at the fairer sex, says Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX Southern Africa.

“If we look at our own internal statistics, 65.4% of the users on our website are female. What’s more, of all the new agents that joined this year so far, 61% percent are female. When it comes to real estate, it seems the women definitely wear the pants in this market,” Goslett remarks.

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