Women in New Zealand and Australia continue to trail men in the home ownership stakes amid crippling interest rate rises and falling home values.
CoreLogic’s 2023 Women & Property report released ahead of International Women’s Day, found the proportion of single-sex property ownership in NZ declined year-on-year for women and men, as mixed-gendered home ownership increased.
Men were associated with ownership of 0.5% more of the housing stock analysed than women. Female-only ownership of dwellings was 22%, while male-only ownership was 22.5%. Property owned jointly between males and females was 55.5%.
CoreLogic report author Eliza Owen said while it looks like the gender property gap is small or closing, it’s more likely joint home ownership is becoming more popular.
“It is possible that affordability constraints have pushed more purchasing decisions to be made by two or more home buyers together than individually. Interestingly, when compared with Australia, NZ has a significantly higher portion of mixed-gendered and joint same-sex ownership.
“This rise in mixed-gender ownership is a counter-trend to what was seen over the previous two years, however analysis of more New Zealand properties this year may have contributed to the change in results,” said Ms Owen.
CoreLogic Chief Property Economist Kelvin Davidson said the rise in joint ownership, whether mixed-gendered or same-sex ownership, pointed towards Kiwis finding a way onto the property ladder.
“The analysis follows a stark shift in housing market conditions, from rapid, broad-based growth in values to a reversal, with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand lifting the cash rate by 350 basis points in the 2022 calendar year. It’s not surprising to see a lift in joint ownership given the sheer unaffordability of property over recent years,” he said.
Ms Owen added the 50 basis point gap in the headline figure equates to men still owning 8,149 more properties than women, and there were some interesting differences between genders across property and ownership types and regions.
Investment weighs on gender parity
Investment property remains at the centre of gender disparity, with men owning 26.4% of investment properties analysed versus 21.3% for women.
“Most of the discrepancy between male and female ownership of property could be explained by ownership of investments,” said Ms Owen.
“There were some hot spots where women did actually own more of the investment stock analysed than men. These were generally the areas that women had high ownership of dwellings overall, including the TA regions of Carterton (21.1%), Whakatane (21.9%), and Kapiti Coast (21.5%).”
What and where women own property
The top TA regions for female home ownership were the Whanganui District (26.5%), the KawerauDistrict (26.4%), the South Waikato District (25.4%), and Invercargill City (25.3%).
Ms Owen said aside from AucklandCity, which had a relatively high rate of home ownership among females (25.1%), these high female ownershipareas are typically more rural or provincial, and affordable.
“The relatively low price pointswithin these markets may make home ownership more attainable for women.Areas with relatively low rates of female home ownership were not only more expensive, such as Selwyn(where rates of female ownership were 15.4% and the median dwelling value was around $740,000),but some were popular tourist destinations, such as Mackenzie (with a female home ownership rate of13.8%), Southland District (15.1%). Such areas may have more investment properties, wheremales were also seen to be more active across the market.
“Interestingly, we see the reverse in Australia, with women tending to have a higher portion of home ownership in more expensive, blue chip markets around Sydney,” said Ms Owen. That could be due to the higher presence of apartment/townhouse units in the main cities.
Mr Davidson added that labour market structure may play a role in gender ownership rates.
“Certainly, in areas such Buller, Westland, and Grey, the traditional employers such as mining and agriculture would tend to be more male-oriented, helping them to have a higher home ownership rate,” he said.
Income and the property ownership gap
Ms Owen said there are several factors that may have historically hindered home ownership among females relative to males. In New Zealand, the gender wage gap was 9.1% in 2021 (down from 9.5% in 2020), with Stats NZ comparing median hourly earnings.
“In past reports, we have noted the role of the gender wage gap potentially contributing to women falling behind on asset accumulation, particularly where it may take women longer on average, to accumulate a deposit for a home,” said Ms Owen.
Addressing the gender gap
Ms Owen said empowering women through greater financial literacy and education about property investment may help to erode this disparity in ownership over time.
At the same time, Ms Owen said recent moves in New Zealand to shift the balance between owner-occupiers and investors could also be useful in bringing down the discrepancy between male and female ownership of homes.
“In recent years, with low gross rental yields, the introduction of 40% deposits, and the removal of interest deductibility on investment properties, the economics of being an investor have become less favourable.
“This could also serve to increase the parity in dwellings owned by men and women, by making way for more owner-occupation of dwellings. Home ownership starts to reflect the demographic of people living in a region, rather than the people interested in investing there.”