How SA women are embracing property ownership as a route to financial independence

Being financially independent is a worthwhile goal for South African women - and property ownership is a powerful way to achieve this

Property ownership among South African women is on the rise.

An FNB report published in June showed single women now make up an estimated 10,3% of South African buyers‚ while single male buyers top out at 7,0%.

Online estate agent PropertyFox says 55% of its clients are women. Not all of them are buying on their own, but they are taking the lead during the buying or selling process. This Women’s Month, PropertyFox says that the empowering impact of owning your own property cannot be underestimated.

PropertyFox’s COO Nardee Brims, CFO Faith Chiondegwa and CMO Christine da Silva share their property-ownership experiences.

What advice would you give a woman looking to buy a home?

  • Brims: “It is paramount that you research the area you are looking to buy in – get to know the value in that suburb and understand the growth of the neighbourhood in recent years (to know if it will be a good investment). In the end, do your sums. Trust your instincts. And know your limits.”
  • Chiondegwa: “Do your research and prioritise security, proximity to hospitals, shopping centres, public transport, work and schools. Also, consider all the costs when moving into a new house.”

Do you own your own property? If so, when did you buy your first property and where?

  • Chiondegwa: “Yes, I bought my first property in 2017 in Parklands North. It is a lovely two-bed, two-bath house with a great entertainment area at the back.”
  • Da Silva: “Yes. I purchased my first home, with the help and encouragement of my parents at the young age of 22. It was in Durbanville, Cape Town, which yielded large properties at an affordable price bracket (at the time) for someone just starting out.  It definitely taught me the values of being responsible and getting to know how to DIY.”

Do you have any savings tips for women looking to invest in a first property?

Nardee:

  • Live at home or house-share with friends while putting away the extra money you would spend on a bond.
  • Draw up a monthly budget and be disciplined throughout the month to keep track of your expenses as you go.
  • Analyse your transport expenses and cut down where you can – downsize your car to save on repayments, hunt around for the best insurance quote, catch the bus to save on petrol.
  • Work hard to reduce your water and electricity bill while you are renting.
  • Cut down on nice-to-haves or find cheaper alternatives
  • Learn to cook – stop eating out and buying ready-made meals, it’s cheaper to cook at home.
  • When socialising, choose to “bring and braai” with friends, rather than going out.

Do you feel that there are any challenges faced by women in the property which men don’t face? 

  • Brims: “Yes, but I feel this is changing. Because we are a data-driven business and provide complete transparency throughout the home-selling process, and have a 50%-female workforce, I believe we are assisting this change and the misconception and stereotype of women selling a property.”
  • Chiondegwa: “I think our challenges as women are not unique to any industry. As women, we must fight to get recognition in most male-dominated industries and l am happy women in property are making a name for themselves. We have ladies like Pam Golding to thank for paving the way.”
  • Da Silva: “Yes – I think we have come a long way in moving towards gender equality but do still have a way to go. Traditionally, the man was the breadwinner of the family, but there are many women changing that. In property, Pam Golding is someone to look up to as a female pioneer in South Africa, and then of course here at PropertyFox, our senior team is mostly made up of strong female leaders.”