The recent surge in home values may have widened the gender wealth gap in Australia, where 26.6% of residential property were owned by women.
According to new CoreLogic research released on International Women’s Day, Australian women continue to have less overall share of property ownership than men, making them potentially disadvantaged by recent wealth gains from real estate.
While just over a quarter of residential property in Australia had female ownership in January 2022, 29.9% of homes were owned by men.
The disparity comes as home values surged over the past year due to low-interest rates, tight supply and strong buyer demand.
In the 12 months to January, CoreLogic estimates the total value of Australia’s residential market surged from just over $7 trillion to $9.7 trillion, with dwelling values rising 22.4%, or $130,000 at the median value level over the same period.
CoreLogic International’s GM Financial Services & Insurance Solutions Milena Malev said property price increases may have further exacerbated the gender wealth gap in property ownership.
“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,” Malev said.
“Property price growth has also vastly outpaced income growth over this time, with the gender pay gap widening in parallel, too.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the gender pay gap in full time ordinary earnings rose from 13.4% at November 2020 to 13.8% in November 2021.
Malev said a key implication of this for property ownership was that men could save a home deposit much faster on average than women.
“The current discrepancy in incomes between men and women would see men save a 20% deposit for the current median dwelling value around a year faster than women,” Malev said.
“That means men are not only accumulating greater wealth from a higher proportion of existing property ownership, but they’re also able to get into the market sooner than women and start that wealth accumulation in a growth market.”
Women own fewer investment properties
CoreLogic found that investment properties accounted for most of the gender wealth gap in real estate, with men owning 36.4% of all investment properties analysed compared to the 29.1% owned by women.
That translated to men owning about 105,500 additional investment properties than women in Australia.
“Our data suggests that around 70% of the discrepancy between male and female residential property ownership in Australia is accounted for by ownership of investment properties,” CoreLogic Australia’s Head of Research Eliza Owen said.
“The portion of investment properties owned by men was also higher than the rate of joint male and female ownership of investment properties (34.5%).
“While it is hard to say what drives this discrepancy, it is notable that men have higher representation in property as an investment.
“We don’t know whether this is a reflection of multiple property ownership being more common among men, or if it’s a response to affordability constraints (such a rent-vesting strategy), but this seems to drive most of the gap in residential property ownership.”
Australian women narrow the property gender gap
The new research also showed that the share of women purchasing property was rising over time.
Last year, 28.3% of property purchases made were by female owners, up from 27.4% in 2020 and 27.3% in 2019.
During the same period, the portion of male purchases fell to 28.7% in 2021 from 29.6% in 2020.
“Australia shows a really interesting trend where there’s a marginal shift, year by year, of women purchasing a slightly higher portion of properties, and men purchasing a slightly lower portion,” Owen said.
“Joint purchases have remained steady over time, but did see a dip in 2009 that may have been associated with a surge in first home buyer activity.
“This positive trend may start to reflect greater gender parity in homeownership over time.”