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Half of first-time home buyers are (predominantly single) women

Half of first-time home buyers are (predominantly single) women

Senior writer

The current market has witnessed a significant shift in focus towards first-time home buyers, mirroring a global trend. This shift underscores the growing importance of homeownership, making it a crucial factor for stakeholders in the residential property market in South Africa to consider.

South Africa’s residential property market aligns with many first-world economies, with the average age of first-time homebuyers being 36. This age is comparable to Australia and the UK but lower than in the USA. However, when we consider the financial challenges first-time home buyers face, particularly in countries like Switzerland, Spain, and Mauritius, South Africa’s market emerges as sophisticated.

Notably, a significant trend has emerged within this demographic: women are rapidly becoming the primary first-time home purchasers. This trend, which started gaining momentum in 2016, has seen women now account for nearly 50% of the first-time home buyer market in just eight years. This is a profound shift, especially considering that the South African market, unlike India, does not offer specific incentives to women buying property.

In India, women are charged lower stamp duty fees and other tax benefits, and they are given preference when exposed to incentives and subsidies under schemes promoting home ownership. The latter scenario does happen to some degree in South Africa, but this is usually related to women’s empowerment funds that provide the means for women to realise a property ownership dream.  However, on a level playing field, it is no less of a struggle for women than it is for men or a family looking to purchase their own home.

Regardless, the rising tide of first-time buyers represents a unique opportunity to create specific strategies around how to attract first-time buyers to a property. We asked ooba Home Loans to help by providing granular statistics of first-time home buyers per region from the period March 2023 to February 2024.

Gauteng South and East Rand are selling the most properties to first-time home buyers, at 2,312 sales, who comprise a mix of single, married in community of property or antenuptial with accrual, divorced, and by other means such as common law. KZN follows (1,711), Western Cape (1,676), the Freestate (1,140), Northern Province (972), Eastern Cape (755), Mpumalanga (687), and Limpopo (388). However, trumping Limpopo’s 388 sales is ooba’s Customer Sales Centres at 584. These numbers provide a clear picture of the distribution of first-time homebuyers across South Africa, allowing stakeholders to target their efforts more effectively.

As already pointed out, female first-time home buyers are cracking the ceiling. These women are more often single or divorced than still married, which highlights the value they place on independence through homeownership. In every region, bar the Western Cape, which is a marginal difference of just three properties bought and Mpumalanga, where 73 more were purchased by males (excluding customer sales centres), the single female is securing property assets.

This strongly indicates that if an agent or agency hasn’t already changed marketing strategies specifically to target single women, you need to do so post-haste. This trend is unlikely to reverse as women gain stronger economic and number footholds.

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