Monday 8th March was International Women’s Day, so with CoreLogic being a property data and analytics business, we have taken a detailed look at property ownership rates by gender across New Zealand and Australia. Our ‘Women & Property: State of Play’ report is available here, but this article digs deeper into the key findings for New Zealand. Given that kiwis in aggregate have about $1 trillion of equity tied up in their properties, ownership rates are a key indicator for the general position of our economy.

The ‘Women & Property: State of Play’ report shows that property ownership rates are lower for women than men. Indeed, properties owned exclusively by females (one or more) represented 20.3% of those we analysed (roughly 1.7m in total), with 17.4% owned by a sole female – in other words, 2.9% were owned by at least two females. Meanwhile, the remaining 56.8% of properties had mixed gender ownership.

The regional breakdown of the figures was also pretty interesting, with rates of female ownership tending to be higher in the main centres than provincial areas. For example, Auckland’s figure was 23.7%, Wellington at 21.0%, but Waikato, Otago, and the West Coast all 18.5% or less (see the chart below).

Chart showing the share of NZ property owned by female vs male for selected regions
Share of NZ property owned by female vs male for selected regions (Source: CoreLogic)

Focussing on the main centres themselves, Auckland’s female ownership figure above was higher than the rest, with Hamilton, Dunedin, Wellington, and Christchurch all around 21-22%. Tauranga lagged behind for female ownership, at just 20.4%. However, in itself that may not be as concerning as might appear, because the male-only ownership rate was even lower, at 18.9%. In other words, Tauranga is the only main centre where female-only property ownership exceeds the male-only figure.

Other parts of the country where the female-only figure exceeds male-only include Kapiti Coast (21.5% vs 18.4%), Napier (21.7% vs 20.1%), Carterton (20.5% vs 19.6%), and Nelson (21.5% vs 20.6%). It’s hard to know exactly why this might be the case in these areas, although part of the explanation may have something to do with these generally being ‘retirement’ destinations, which might have implications for ownership rates by gender.

More generally, there’s no doubt that having a sufficient income is a fundamental driver of the ability to buy a property. Therefore, the fact that females tend to earn less than males (Stats NZ’s estimate is 9.5% less) will be at least part of the explanation for the generally lower rates of female ownership than male.

In terms of female ownership rates being higher in the main centres than provincial areas, it may reflect factors such as the tendency for incomes to be higher in the main centres, or perhaps a lower risk of buying where the population base is larger, or even a more varied mix of property types (e.g. apartments, which tend to be cheaper than standalone dwellings). But we also suspect that the mix of employment plays a role too – for example, the dominance of agriculture on the West Coast (see the chart below), a sector where workers are more typically male than female, could also help to explain lower rates of female property ownership in that part of the country.

Chart showing the agriculture share of GDP for selected NZ regions
Agriculture share of GDP for selected regions (Source: MBIE)

All in all, this is a high level analysis of a topic that deserves a lot more work, but one implication that’s immediately obvious is how an assessment of savings and investment solutions for those on lower incomes (e.g. more typically females than males) could help provide a pathway into the wealth accumulation and ‘life security’ that is associated with property ownership.