In Focus: Advice for Women  

How to understand trends in women's home ownership

  • To understand trends in homeownership according to data.
  • To be able to explain potential difficulties in ownership on divorce.
  • To ascertain how to advise generations of women wanting to get on the housing ladder.

That said, Savills' Cook is keen to point out the difficulty of breaking out the statistics to separate where single-person households might be headed by a woman.

He explains: "What we are seeing is that women are less often the ‘household reference person’, ie the highest earning person in the household."

Younger clients

Claire Gordon, partner in the family and divorce team at Farrer & Co, says: "It is depressing that there has only been 2.8 per cent growth in female mortgaged ownership over the past decade. 

"It is understandable, perhaps, given that house prices are more expensive now than ever. I wonder could it be that women feel less confident about their financial futures, and not wanting to take on a massive liability? 

"We need to ask how can we help get younger women onto the housing ladder, and whether the barriers are purely financial and economic?"

So this is where advisers with younger clients looking to buy their first property would be best placed to help women feel more confident and knowledgable about taking on a mortgage or working out a financial plan to save for the deposit.

Graph 2: Household reference person

But things might be about to change over the next decade, especially if recent trends are an indicator of future homeownership among younger generations. 

Samar Shaheryar, chief operating officer at home-buying service Spring, comments that, over the past 12 months, women have been the biggest customer base in terms of selling. 

Shaheryar says: "Women are one and a half times more likely to sell their home through our service than men. In the past year, women made up 60 per cent of our sole-seller transactions."

Moreover, buyers using the Spring service seem to be increasingly women.

According to Shaheryar: "Women are more interested in the benefits of our home-buying service – the lack of viewings, or need for repairs to the home – and are also more time-pressure focused, appreciating the speed of our service.

"Our front-end sales team report that in their conversations with our customers, even in couples, it is often the women who are making the final decision."

Property and divorce

But ownership has also changed for middle-aged and older women, says Gordon, and a rise in outright or mortgaged properties for older women might be as a result of divorce or inheriting later on in life. 

Gordon explains: "There have been trends over the past few decades towards women having a greater outright ownership of property in their own names.