UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Women’s participation in the real estate market is quite low, despite the increasing number of women in managerial and executive jobs.
Women who own property are mostly married, but they still co-own property with their husbands. Lack of information and knowledge, cultural limitations, and insufficient financial support are the reasons for the low uptake of real estate among women.
Women are also disadvantaged in this aspect as most of the high-paying jobs are held by men, making it difficult for them to afford the required down payment.
In this article, we explore the reasons behind the low uptake of real estate among women and how the real estate market is responding to this trend.
Lack of Information
Experts cite a lack of knowledge, inadequate financial support, structural challenges, and cultural drawbacks as the reasons for the low uptake of real estate among women.
Many women lack specific knowledge of real estate, which hinders them from acquiring property.
Samah Rustam, a development, sales, and letting adviser at HassConsult in Kenya, says some women are unaware that some investments can be secured with stretched payment plans, and some of these properties undergo capital appreciation over time.
‘‘There is a significant number of women who do not know that some investments can be secured with stretched payment plans. Some of these properties undergo capital appreciation over time, something they may not know,’’ Rustam says.
George Wachiuri, the chief executive of Optiven, a seller of land, notes that family is the main motivator for the acquisition of property among women, with young couples with two and three children buying more than the older ones. He says today, more women than men are buying property, especially those in the middle-income quantile.
‘‘Most of the enquiries we get and the actual purchases come from family women. These are often looking at the future of their children living in their own homes rather than renting out,’’ Wachiuri says.
According to Gregory Mwaura, a psychologist, marriage is a game of power and money. Property and land symbolise influence.
‘‘More women, including married ones, are acquiring property after the realisation that it is a form of personal security. In case of any eventuality in their marriage, such as divorce, they have ready resources to acquire property and assets,’’ Mwaura says.
Many married women leave investment decisions to their partners, and start seeking investments when they feel they want to be independent and must have a portfolio of their own.
It is noteworthy that women who acquire property after marriage, often co-own the property with their husbands, and the property is often registered under someone else’s name.
However, more women are acquiring property after realising that it is a form of personal security. In case of any eventuality in their marriage, such as divorce, they have ready resources to acquire property and assets.
The property also represents freedom. A married woman with assets registered under her name has more options than one who has none.
It also represents freedom. ‘‘A married woman with assets registered under her name has more options than one who has none,’’ he adds.
In a capitalist society such as Uganda, owning assets enhances a woman’s capacity to nurture.
‘‘Property comes with the security that as a caregiver, you will be able to provide for your dependants,’’ Mwaura says, adding “even in marriage, there should be boundaries, openness and respect for personal ownership of assets. There is a difference between what is for the family and what is personal.’’
Samuel Tiras Wainaina, the Director of Dream Credit, a microfinance institution in Kenya, says most financiers still discriminate against women. The significant financial outlay required to pay off a mortgage is out of reach for most women.
‘‘The huge financial outlay required to pay off a mortgage is out of reach for most women,” Wainaina says, citing a lack of collateral as the reason most institutions are disinclined to advance loans to women.
Lack of collateral is the reason most institutions are disinclined to advance loans to women. Sometimes cultural and patriarchal stereotypes get in the way of property ownership among women, including educated ones.
‘‘In most societies, even coffee bushes, tea and land were owned by men,’’ says Wainaina, who served as the first chief executive of the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF).
As women become more empowered and financially stable, they are increasingly becoming pickier buyers, preferring value-added products to just land.
Apartments with amenities that require minimal maintenance are as attractive to women as those near schools. The nearness of schools and hospitals is the biggest pull for women buying property.
‘‘Nearness of schools and hospitals is the biggest pull for women buying property. They can commit to buying more easily than when these amenities are unavailable or far away,’’ Wachiuri says.
However, like men, women also consider affordability before committing to buy. Affordability is determined by the earning power and financial capabilities of the buyer rather than cheapness.
The average woman who owns a property is financially stable through employment, according to Shafana Rajani, the Executive Director of Laser Property Services, a real estate agency in Kenya.
However, this is quite rare for women who hold low-income jobs. Most women who own property are married, and the property is often registered under someone else’s name. Only a small percentage of women own a title deed.
She argues that a woman is ‘‘still not empowered enough.’’
‘‘It is true we have more women professionals today than 30 years ago. The sad reality, though, is that women continue to secure either entry-level or mid-level jobs with average incomes,’’ she argues.
This income, she adds, barely covers their cost of living for themselves and their families. ‘‘This makes it harder to own property,’’ she says.
Rajani says this woman is ‘‘financially stable through employment’’ and sometimes occupies an executive position in an organisation. If not employed, the woman often has stable investments and a reliable income. This woman, she adds, enjoys an ‘‘excellent credit rating.’’
‘The woman home buyer is educated in finance and wealth management. This helps her to plan for herself and her family accordingly,’’ she says.
In some cases, this woman is either married to a ‘‘financially strong partner’’ or has wealthy parents who support her. ‘‘When her husband is financially stable, the woman can divert her earnings to invest in property because the partner meets the other family obligations,’’ Rajani explains.
On financing, she notes that most of the mortgages target either women entrepreneurs or those with a regular income.
‘‘Financiers often prefer applications by women to men because they are considered more efficient and reliable when it comes to payment of loans,’’ she says.
The majority of women who buy individually are those working in the diaspora. Women buying property as a consortium rather than individually is one of the trends in the property market.
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