Home loan applications from single women rising, but the property market gender gap persists

A cheerful woman holds a big key in front of her new house

All the single ladies (all the single ladies) are getting into the Australian property market

While single men are still more likely to put their hands up for bigger home loans at a younger age, new analysis from ME Bank reveals that single women tied men 50-50 when it came to buying property last year.

The percentage of single women applying for home loans increased by 1% in 2021; the rise also brought up the average loan size for single women to $411,752. 

By comparison, single men applied for an average home loan value of $449,273 last year – an increase of 6% – while their percentage of new applications decreased by 1%. This put single men and women pretty neck and neck overall. 

So surely this means gender is no longer a barrier to buying property, right? (Yeah okay, ladies, stop giggling, we know. But it’s Women’s History Month, so let’s look into it, anyway). 

Closing the gender gap in the property market

A biracial woman in a mustard sweater stares out her window while typing on her computer

2021 may have been a great year for single women buying home loans, but surging Australian house prices appear to have worsened the property gender gap, overall. Bummer. (We can still dance to “Independent Woman”, though).

There are a few reasons overall why it’s harder for women to break into property than men. Chiefly, the gender pay gap worsened in 2021, climbing from 13.4% in November 2020 to 13.8% in November 2021. 

Devaluing women’s work and job opportunities primarily fuels this disparity, but the end result means that it’s harder for women to save up for that 10-20% housing deposit than it is for men – especially now that house prices have well and truly outpaced wage growth.

There’s a lot of equity wrapped up in owning property, too. According to Corelogic, men own 36.4% of all investment properties, while women only own 29.1%. So with Australian housing affordability crashing, many women find themselves locked out from a huge source of wealth and security. 

Let’s not forget that historical sexism isn’t that far behind us, either. Married white women only effectively gained the right to own property Australia-wide in 1897, while progress moved at an even more glacial pace for women of colour. To put things in perspective: we’ve had batteries, light bulbs, and stainless steel longer than property rights for women.

Considering all that drag, the hustle has been impressive. But there’s still some ground to make up before women achieve full economic equality.

Tips for single home buyers in the property market

For solo Australians hoping to get a foot in the door, there are a few strategies you can consider to boost your chances.

  • Firstly is co-buying, which means purchasing a property with a family member or friend. 
  • You could also consider bringing on board a guarantor, who puts their own property up as collateral. This makes you a more attractive investment for lenders, since there’s someone mitigating your risk. 
  • You could also become a “rentvestor”, or an investor who owns property but lives in a rental home. This way, the rental income and potential tax breaks gives you a cushion along your road to home ownership. 

Systemic inequality doesn’t mean it’s hopeless when it comes to buying your first home, especially if you’re single. In fact, the National Housing Finance & Investment Corp (NHFIC) predicts single households will become a significant Australian demographic in the next ten years – led by an increase in older single women homeowners.

In the meantime, check out our guide to saving for a home loan deposit, or compare the best home loans on offer to get the ball rolling.

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