Women narrowing the gap by turning to property investment
On International Women's Day we look at how property can provide women from all walks of life, from the young and employed through to victims of financial abuse, with the opportunity to achieve financial security.
While everyone appreciates freedom of choice, for some, choice, whether it’s financial or within relationships, is complicated.
CoreLogic research released Tuesday showed that women in Australia continue to trail men in the home ownership stakes.
CoreLogic’s 2023 Women & Property report released ahead of Wednesday’s International Women’s Day (8 March), found men were associated with ownership of 3.1 per cent more of the housing stock analysed than women. Female-only ownership of dwellings was 26.8 per cent, while male-inferred ownership was 29.9 per cent. Property owned jointly between males and females was 43.4 per cent.
But there are signs that the scope for women to achieve financial independence through property and other investments is improving.
The gender wage gap in Australia as of November 2022 was 13.3 per cent, down from 14.1 per cent in May of 2022, and the decade average of around 16 per cent.
CoreLogic Head of Australian Research and report author Eliza Owen said research suggests that women are more inclined to invest in real estate than their male counterparts where they have the resources to do so.
Never too late to invest in property
Independence allows women to make their own decisions, free from overt control or the influence of others.
While it’s best to start investing in property early, happily, it’s never too late to move towards financial independence.
- Set clear financial goals and have a clear strategy.
- Ensure you have access to, and exercise control over, your own money.
- Take the time to educate yourself on how personal finance works – master the basics and the rest will come.
- Understand your money habits, good and bad.
We all have a unique money personality. Everyone approaches spending and saving money differently. Maybe you can’t resist an online bargain. Maybe you’re an impulse shopper.
We all have different money habits. Mastering yours will enable you to get into the property market faster.
Use your money skills for good. While they make up around 27 per cent of Australians investing in property, women consistently outperform their male counterparts in making savvy property selections.
Breaking into the housing market
Reach out to mortgage brokers to identify the best home-loan deals for your financial situation. You can also play around with online mortgage calculators to compare the rates that various lenders can offer.
Similarly, if you opt to purchase your property with someone you trust, check their commitment to managing money. Financial discipline is important to avoid issues with your lender further down the track.
Three property investment tips
- You’ll find buying a property comes with both entry and exit costs, so avoid painful mistakes by being clear about your commitments upfront.
- Establish the right savings and loan structures for you. Tuck away emergency funds in an offset account that will reduce your interest payment pain while still being accessible in an emergency.
- Don’t neglect to ensure your insurance and estate planning strategies have been well thought through and are in place.
Financial abuse is on the rise
The importance of property investment was made clear with a recent study on financial (or economic) abuse.
This hidden blight on female independence appears to be widespread throughout society and is imposing very real and serious costs on victims and Australia’s broader economy.
Most Australians recognise the debilitating effects of domestic and family violence, such as sexual and physical abuse, but fewer are aware of the prevalence of financial abuse, let alone its impacts.
Financial (or economic) abuse is insidious. It can remain hidden or ‘invisible’, a non-physical form of abuse within intimate partner relationships.
According to a recent 2022 study The Cost of Financial Abuse in Australia by Deloitte and Access Economics, one in 30 women in Australia were subjected to financial abuse.
These estimates are thought to underestimate the prevalence of financial abuse among Australian female victims of intimate partner violence.
Of these women, 27 per cent had their income withheld or controlled by an abusive partner and 26 per cent were the victim of a partner not contributing to household expenses.
And the cumulative cost of this form of abuse is staggering.
Deloitte and Access Economics estimated the cost to victims of financial abuse ran to $5.7 billion in 2020, while the broader Australian economy suffered a $5.2 billion economic hit.
These direct costs may just be the tip of the financial abuse iceberg.
Victims may experience stress and housing insecurity together with financial hardship, all of which can have serious, long-term implications for victims’ mental health and employment.
Ultimately, in some financial abuse cases, a victim’s financial security is so eroded, their ability to leave an abusive relationship and gain independence is greatly reduced.
Passport to control over finances and relationships
Financial independence is not just about having control over your finances, it can also give you greater control over your relationships. Women who are financially dependent on someone else can feel trapped or obligated to stay in a relationship, even if it is not healthy or fulfilling.
In contrast, women who have escaped financial abuse and gained a degree of financial independence are finding property ownership to be the key to gaining an all-important sense of security.
Unsurprisingly, safe, secure, stable housing contributes significantly to mental wellbeing as well as physical health.
The path to freedom lies with property ownership. A sense of mental wellbeing is a fundamental human right in the same way that everyone deserves to enjoy physical well-being.
Financially independent women make decisions based on their own needs and preferences, rather than what is best for their finances. They can pursue their passions and interests and at the same time, set boundaries around their relationships.
As well as a more secure retirement, financial independence can ultimately lead to healthier relationships, where both partners contribute and are equal players in the relationship.
International Women’s Day is a global holiday celebrated annually on March 8 as a focal point in the women's rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.