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Number of single women buying first home tipped to rise

The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has forecast a rise in single women purchasing their first homes.

The potential increase in single women looking into home ownership will be stimulated by government grants, historically low interest rates and rapidly rising property prices.

Correlating with REIA’s forecast, a recent study by mortgage broker Loan Market found the proportion of single female first-home buyers applying for a home loan rose from 15.7 per cent to 22 per cent in the past financial year.

Single women have become one of the fast-growing home buyer demographics in the market, according to the Australian Financial Review.

REIA President, Adrian Kelly said home ownership was at its highest at 73 per cent in 1966 and its lowest in 1947 at 53 per cent.

He said it would be interesting to see what the Census Australian’s filled out this week showed, with home ownership sitting at 67 per cent at the last recorded Census in 2016.

“Home ownership as recorded by the Census has been sustained at the 70 per cent mark over the years and this has not yet been exceeded so it will be interesting to see where the latest stands,” he said.

“According to research by Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, mortgage interest rates sat at six per cent in the early 1970s, peaked in 1990 at 18 per cent and hit historical lows of five per cent and under from 2017 onwards.

Mr Kelly said the latest Census night, which officially took place on Tuesday, was conducted amid the lowest interest rate environment in history.

“The economic contribution of women has been a major factor in property markets rising over recent years,” he added.

However, the 2016 Census saw a decline in single income home ownership. In 1981, 50 per cent of home owners had a single income, while just 15 per cent of home owners had a single income in 2016.

AFR reported being a woman on a single income trying to buy a home still has significant challenges, with Ray White Chief Economist Nerida Conisbee noting one major barrier to be the gender pay gap.

“The amount sole female first-home buyers borrow is about 20 per cent less than the average for all first-home buyers,” Ms Conisbee said.

“This is not surprising given that they are borrowing on a single income.”

The publication reported that women earn an average of 13.4 per cent less than men.

Similar first home buying trends have also been recorded in the US, with single women being more likely than a married couple to buy a townhome or condo.

Forbes reported single women accounted for the ownership of 5.2 million homes in 2020, while single men owned just 3.6 million homes in American metro areas.

The latest Census data will be released to the public by June next year.

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