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Single women buyers are at a disadvantage

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Lightstone figures show single women purchased about 72 000 homes in South Africa last year, compared to couples who purchased about 65 000.

Single women are buying more homes in South Africa than single men or married couples, but are still disadvantaged by a “huge gender pay gap”, says Gerhard Kotzé, managing director of the RealNet estate agency group.

If it were not for this, the chances are high they would be buying even more and bigger homes, and increasing the amount of money they would have to buy with.

The purchasing figures were disclosed by Lightstone. Statistics SA data shows the average wage or salary in the formal sector of South Africa’s economy was just over R21 000 a month in the fourth quarter of last year.

“But according to the Global Wage Report, which covers 70 countries and about 80% of wage-earners around the world, South Africa has a gender pay gap of 28.6%. This means the average wage or salary paid to women in SA is actually only around R15 000 – and this disparity makes a massive difference to the type of home the average single woman can afford,” Kotzé says.

To illustrate the point he says it takes a household income of around R33 000 to qualify for a R1 million bond, assuming the applicant has enough discretionary income after the payment of other expenses to afford the monthly instalment of around R9 900.

That requirement would probably not be a problem for a married couple who are both working. “Even if they combined just the average male and female salaries, their household would have earnings of more than R36 000. 

But while a single man earning R33 000 a month could also qualify, the single woman with the same qualifications and doing the same job would probably be earning only around R24 000 a month – would thus not qualify.”

Assuming a base interest rate of 10.25% for everyone, Kotzé says a single woman would be able to afford a bond of only about R733 000 on that salary. 

The Lightstone figures show single women purchased about 72 000 homes in South Africa last year, compared to couples who purchased about 65 000 homes, and single men who bought around 62 000 homes.

But Kotzé points out they also show the average purchase price paid by these single women buyers was just over R700 000, compared to the average of around R900 000 paid by single men and R1.1m paid by married couples.

“In other words, the gender pay gap is having a clear effect on what women can afford – in South Africa as well as other countries – and limiting them to smaller and less expensive properties, even though many of them are also parents with one or more children to accommodate.”

He adds: “Indeed, in our experience, one of the biggest property purchase motivators for single women is the desire to provide a permanent and secure home for children who are in their sole care.” 


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