Financial inequality remains a barrier to home ownership

Jun 2023Karen Millers

Property professionals have cited a concerning pattern of financial inequality that is holding women back from achieving their dreams of home ownership.

The persistence of a stagnant gender pay gap, a recently identified “divorce tax”, and disparities in superannuation savings have fueled a growing movement of women determined to challenge and overcome these systemic barriers.

According to a recent Victorian parliamentary inquiry, within five years of separation, only around 34 per cent of women manage to become home owners, a number that rises to just 44 per cent within a decade. Stamp duty emerges as a significant impediment in this struggle.

The inquiry also uncovered that divorced women are three times more likely to be renters at the age of 65 compared to their married counterparts. These alarming statistics shed light on the immense financial challenges faced by women long after divorce.

Real Estate Institute of Queensland chief executive, Antonia Mercorella, highlighted that the gender pay gap figures merely mask the harsh truth of poorer financial outcomes for women throughout their lives.

“According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Australia’s national gender pay gap is 13.3 per cent — similar to what it was three years ago,” Ms Mercorella said.

On average, women earn approximately $253.50 less per week than men, amounting to a staggering $13,000 per year, she added.

Over a decade, this pay gap accumulates to a deficit of more than $131,000 compared to men. Over the span of 20 years, the figure exceeds a quarter of a million dollars, she explained.

Property Investment Professionals of Australia (PIPA) chair Nicola McDougall emphasised the growing awareness of the gender pay and superannuation gaps resonating with women across all age groups.

As the co-author of “The Female Investor — Creating Wealth, Security, & Freedom Through Property”, McDougall explained that the book was specifically written for women due to the dearth of female voices and authors in the property investment realm.

“Only 27 per cent of women identify as investors — and now we have learned that if a woman gets divorced, she has less than a 50/50 chance of continuing to be a home owner — which is appalling,” McDougall said.

Propell Property partnerships director and leading figure in Invest Her, Karen Lacheta-Pell, said that the intensified focus on female financial inequality in recent years has motivated her to assist as many women as possible.

“There continues to be more information being released that highlights the fact that women are perpetually being left behind, not only in their overall financial outcomes, but also when it comes to property ownership — especially after separation or divorce,” she said.

“It is a goal of mine to help as many women as possible become — and stay — property owners throughout the many ups and downs that we all experience during our lifetimes.”

Originally Published: Kate Aubrey | Mortgage Business | 13 June 2023

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