30 November 2020
06 November 2020
“We have much to work on in this country in terms of gender pay disparity and gender-based violence. Property has always been a sure way to empowerment, and for many years home-ownership figures were a stark illustration of South Africa’s history of discrimination and the exclusion of women,” says Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property.
“The good news is that property ownership figures are now clearly demonstrating that South African women, particularly single women, are seizing the gains that have been made to and investing in property to secure their independence and determine their own futures.”
Lightstone property data for the last five years shows that single women first-time home buyers outnumber single male, married couples and multiple buyers. And this despite the impact of Covid-19 on sales volumes for 2020 during Level 4 and 5.
In the company’s August newsletter, Lightstone notes that “this is an important victory and reflects transformation in the workplace and the changing status of women as empowered and financially independent decision makers.”
Just Property Port Elizabeth franchisee, Andrea Stevens, celebrates this daily with one of her star agents, Noziqhamo Moss. “When Nozi became an owner of her first home (which she thought was impossible) she felt so empowered by the experience that she made it her life’s mission to educate and empower other underprivileged people in her community. Her long life goal now is to become a franchisee”, says Andrea.
Underlining Lightstone’s research is last year’s home loans data from Ooba. Since 2008, women buyers’ home-loan approvals increased by 48 percent, while male home loan approvals declined by 15,7% in the same period.
These figures reflect the increasing financial independence and purchasing power of women, especially black women, said Stevens. He points to data from Nielsen (a global measurement and analytics company), which shows that 60% of South African women hold the purchasing power within SA households. Results from last year’s World Wide Worx survey reflect this, showing that 66% of South African women are financially responsible for the entire family.
“This influence will only grow as women’s numbers in the South African labour market are expected to increase from 9.5 million to 11 million in 2025,” Stevens says.
The properties that single South African women are buying are mostly freestanding homes in emerging suburbs. And as women’s access to the formal economy has grown, the average price of these properties they are buying has been on the increase.
One sour note remains, Stevens notes: “When Lightstone compares the value of homes bought by single women to those bought by single men, the average value of the properties that women are buying is lower. This is a stark reflection of South Africa’s still-concerning wage gap. There is still much work to be done.” Kate Grieshaber, who co-owns Just Property Lephalale and Vredenburg says “I always tell my people at the office they shouldn't worry about what the competitors are doing - or in this case what the men are doing. You should just do the best you can do, and you will eventually get there”.
Stevens believes that the property industry is an exception: “There is no wage disparity for real estate agents – the commission you negotiate does not factor in gender. In fact, eight of our top 10 commission earners year to date are women,” he notes.
“However, as an industry, we need to attract more women to this field. There is a great opportunity here.” He continues: “Just Property currently has 47 franchises owned or co-owned by women (51% of our franchises), and 321 women estate agents (58% of our agents) in our branches across South Africa. I believe that what attracts them is our values: optimism, integrity, equality, collaboration, excellence, innovation, personal development and loyalty. This sentiment is captured in the words of multi-franchise owner, Ria Taljaard: “Success to me is to feel like you have something to contribute towards making this world a better place”. Living our values enables this.
“Just Property also offers a strong culture of development and learning, a structured new-hire onboarding programme and a specific internship programme backed by solid mentorship,” Stevens adds. ”It’s a really good fit for those wanting to enter the industry. Plus, the earnings potential of rookie estate agents far exceeds what they might earn in other entry-level or unskilled positions.”
The property industry certainly has had its fair share of female icons, from the late Pam Golding to Nonhlanhla Mayisela, current chair of the Women’s Property Network and CEO of Izandla Property. But as a whole, it is still a male-dominated industry. Stevens believes that’s set to change: “It has to. And it will be better for it.”