Addressing the gender wealth gap in property ownership

CoreLogic’s inaugural Women and Property: State of Play report released on International Women’s Day boosts evidence of the relationship between the gender pay gap and the gender wealth gap.

It suggests addressing gender income equality could support closing the wealth gap as it relates to real estate over time.

The report analysed a 2021 snapshot of property ownership by gender across Australia and New Zealand, by matching ownership gender with 41.2% of Australian properties, and 72.6% of New Zealand properties.

Milena Malev, CoreLogic International’s GM Financial Services & Insurance Solutions, says :

“There has been a lot of emphasis on understanding the access to wealth and earnings for women, but much of this has focused on income from wages, salaries and wealth accumulation in superannuation. Using CoreLogic’s extensive property data universe, we sought to understand rates of female property ownership.”

Women appear to lag behind men in property ownership

Eliza Owen, CoreLogic’s Head of Research and author of the report, says

“Unsurprisingly, the report found that rates of male property ownership are generally higher than women, but with important distinctions that highlight the relationship between the gender wealth gap and the gender pay gap, and have implications for institutional response.

CoreLogic estimates Australia’s residential real estate to be worth over $7 trillion.

Given there’s a high level of equity held in real estate, if you don’t own property, that’s a big source of household wealth and security you don’t have access to.”

save deposit

Implications for retirement

With property ownership being a “pillar” of retirement, outright property ownership reduces housing costs when income has generally dropped, and can significantly reduce the incidence of poverty in retirement.

Property ownership can also provide a source of wealth accumulation to help maintain living standards, service health care or aged care costs, or support intergenerational wealth.

Ms Malev says

“This wealth gap becomes a particular challenge around retirement, and it’s well documented that if you still have rental or mortgage costs at the time you retire, then you have a much higher incidence of falling into poverty.”

Key findings for Australia & New Zealand

  • Unsurprisingly, there were higher rates of property ownership among men than women in both Australia and New Zealand. Property exclusively belonging to owners identified as female represented 26.2% of those analysed across Australia, compared with 20.3% of the properties analysed across New Zealand.
  • Property exclusively belonging to owners identified as male represented 29.9% of the properties analysed across Australia, compared with 22.9% of the properties analysed across New Zealand.
  • In both countries the most common type of ownership was ‘mixed gender’ ownership, where both men and women had ownership of the property. This accounted for 56.8% of properties in New Zealand, and 43.9% of properties in Australia. The mix of male and female ownership implies two or more incomes were used to buy the property.
  • The high rate of mixed gender ownership in New Zealand means that women have a higher portion of total (sole or joint) ownership (77.1%) compared with Australian women (70.1%).
  • Across Australia and New Zealand, rates of female ownership of property tended to be higher in major cities. In Australia, female property ownership is higher where dwelling values are higher, and incomes are typically higher. This reinforces the idea that property ownership is ultimately a function of income, and fixing the gender wealth gap in property could be about fixing the gender pay gap.

Rate of Property Ownership by Gender

AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND
Exclusively female 26.2% 20.3%
Exclusively male 29.9% 22.9%
Sole female 24.1% 17.4%
Sole male 27.7% 19.2%
Mixed gender 43.9% 56.8%
Women – any share 70.1% 77.1%
Men – any share 73.8% 79.7%

Source: CoreLogic

Key findings for Australia

  • Property ownership rates among women have a positive correlation with dwelling value, in that areas with more expensive housing were found to have higher rates of female property ownership. For men, it’s a negative correlation, so the less expensive the area, the higher the rate of male ownership.
  • In Australia, Greater Melbourne and Regional Victoria were the areas with the highest level of gender parity in ownership rates, with less than 2 percentage points separating male and female rates of ownership. Melbourne also had the lowest rates of properties owned by mixed genders at 38.4%.
  • The largest discrepancy between exclusively male and female ownership in property was across Regional Western Australia, where female owned property represented 19.8% of those analysed compared with 29.3% owned by men.
  • Of the 76 SA4 markets analysed, there were 7 sub-markets of Australia where rates of exclusively female ownership were higher than the rate of exclusively male owned properties. The biggest difference was across the ‘Inner South’ region of Melbourne, where 32.6% of property is exclusively owned by females, compared with 27.6% of properties analysed being exclusively owned by men, and 39.9% having mixed gender ownership.
  • The highest rates of exclusively female ownership was in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, where the properties analysed saw 34.8% exclusively owned by women versus 31.7% exclusively owned by men.

 

gender property ownership

 

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Eliza Owen

About

Eliza is head Of Residential Research Australia for Corelogic and a respected property market commentator. Eliza holds a first class honours degree in economics from the University of Sydney


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