More Australian women own property than men but struggle with early entry

More Australian women own property than their male counterparts but are more likely to do so later in life, while affordability and investment remain significant hurdles.

According to CoreLogic’s 2024 Women & Property report, 68.2 per cent of women surveyed owned at least one property, which is slightly higher than men at 67.4 per cent. 

However, women are more likely to own residential property with someone else (53.3 per cent, compared to 51.9 per cent for men), while men have a higher rate of sole ownership (51.9 per cent, compared to 50.2 per cent for women).

Of females with a co-owned property, 81.8 per cent were owned with a husband or male partner, while 14.5 per cent were owned with a wife or female partner.

For me, 79.8 per cent of properties were owned with a wife or a female partner and 13.4 per cent were owned with a male partner. 

The research, conducted by Lonergan Research on behalf of CoreLogic, surveyed 1006 Australians aged 18 and over in capital city and non-capital city areas.

CoreLogic Head of Research and report author Eliza Owen said the updated survey methodology had provided more insights into some of the nuances of home ownership.

“Examining home ownership holistically unveils gender equity gaps, highlights generational risks, and underscores the critical role of residential real estate in wealth, retirement, and tenure stability,” she said.

“It prompts crucial questions about the accessibility of property ownership for women across generations and the challenges faced for early entry into the market.”

The average property value for women was $1,046,547, which was slightly lower than the average reported by males of $1,071,912. 

Meanwhile, the average female housing debt was $256,541, compared to $237,230 for men. 

This meant the average overall home equity position of survey respondents was about 5.4 per cent less for women.

Interestingly, women still have a higher rate of ownership of at least one property than men when split out by earnings of over or under $100,000 per year. 

For women earning less than $100,000, the rate of property ownership was 62.1 per cent, while women earning over $100,000 had a home ownership rate of 91 per cent.

Age also played a large role in the rate of property ownership, with a notably higher share of Gen Z males (aged 18-29) owning at least one property (51.6 per cent) relative to Gen Z women (27.3 per cent).

The survey also revealed that overall, Gen Z women earnt less than their male counterparts at $67.8k compared to $83.5k.

For non-property owners, affordability constraints was rated as the biggest barrier delaying young women’s entry into the property market (61.4 per cent), whereas the most common reason for Gen Z men was that they were not ready or looking to buy yet (44.3 per cent).

“Accessibility to home ownership varies, with younger, low-income households experiencing a prominent decline, and gender-related challenges persisting, exacerbated by the gender wage gap,” Ms Owen said.

“Despite overall dwelling ownership parity, this year’s survey reveals that affordability constraints and the home-buying process pose significant challenges for a higher share of females, emphasising the need for targeted solutions to address gender disparities in Australian home ownership.”

Ms Owen said the research also showed that property ownership increased with age, with the portion of Millennial women (aged 30-44) who own at least one dwelling increasing to 72.5 per cent versus 63.5 per cent for men.

For Gen X women, property ownership jumped to 75.8 per cent, compared to 69 per cent for men and Baby Boomers had the highest rate of property ownership at 83.3 per cent, versus 84.5 per cent for men.

Ms Owen said given the importance of residential real estate, it was reassuring to see home ownership rates between men and women even out over time.

However, she said the survey findings also raised some important questions about the timing of home ownership and some of the barriers confronting a purchasing decision.

“Presumably the gender-based home ownership gap closes in part due to the formation of couples and family households, so while the pay gap between men and women becomes less important for mixed-gender couples, it may pose potential risks during relationship breakdowns,” she said.

“Further, if men can attain dwelling ownership at a younger age, they are likely to benefit from greater levels of capital growth from the asset class over the long term.”

Residential investments also skewed towards men, with 14.1 per cent reporting owning at least one residential investment property, compared to 12.5 per cent of women.

Ms Owen said this was a trend which extended to almost every asset class nominated in the survey, with the biggest gap in shares, which showed a 12-percentage point disparity between men and women (30.1 per cent for females versus 42 per cent for men).

“This gap may be tied to differences in income between men and women, but it may also reflect differences in exposure to financial concepts through education,” she said.

“Greater intervention at the high school and university level to familiarise young females with concepts of economics, finance and investment may help to bridge the investment gap, not just across property, but a range of asset classes.”

Women (69.2 per cent) were also more likely to buy more houses than men (64 per cent), while men owned a higher share of units (22.6 per cent) compared to women (18.3 per cent).

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.