How to understand trends in women’s home ownership


Women are still struggling to get onto the housing ladder but a greater share of the UK’s housing wealth will end up in their hands, figures suggest. 

Savills, which ran some numbers on renting, residential mortgages and outright ownership, split by gender, for FTAdviser In Focus found that, over the past decade, the number of female mortgaged owner occupiers has barely changed, rising just 2.7 per cent since 2011 (see graph 1).

This represents just 26,000 more female mortgaged owner occupiers over the past 10 years, which seems at odds with the general trend towards women owing a greater share of the UK’s wealth.

The figures did not split out those rental agreements mortgages or outright ownership where a couple are both named on the deeds or rental agreements.

Earlier this year, the Centre for Economic and Business Research said women already own 48 per cent of the UK’s wealth and this was set to rise to 60 per cent by 2025.

But how much of this is housing wealth? And will this wealth be in the hands of younger women or those who have already retired?

As the figures from Savills show, only 33 per cent of all mortgaged owner occupiers are women. By contrast, the majority of social renters are women (58 per cent) while private rentals to women come in at 40 per cent (see graph 2). 

Lucian Cook, Savills’ head of residential research, comments: “Primarily because of the challenges of getting on the housing ladder with a single income, there isn’t any discernible increase in female mortgaged homeownership over the past decade, despite the increased levels of financial independence.”

Graph 1: Female homeownership 

With house price rises putting ownership out of the reach of many young people, not just women, and joint ownership still likely to be primarily in the man’s name in a relationship, women under the age of 70 seem to find outright or sole mortgaged ownership of properties out of their reach.

For example, the latest Nationwide House Price Index showed house price rises have continued, perhaps fuelled by chancellor Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty land tax reprieves in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The index found:

  • Annual house price growth rose to 11 per cent from 10.5 per cent in July.
  • Prices up 2.1 per cent month-on-month – the second largest gain in 15 years.
  • Average house price nudges towards £250,000.

Responding to the Nationwide index, Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham & Reeves, says: “We’re seeing no let up in the extreme levels of house price growth seen in recent months. These hot market conditions are likely to remain beyond the summer months and well into autumn as we enter what is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for the UK market.

This presents a challenge for advisers putting together holistic financial plans for younger women: should a property be a priority, or a pension? How does one balance the perceived need to buy and secure the bricks-and-mortar asset with the importance of long-term saving for retirement?

This is something that the contentious Lifetime Isa has tried – and arguably failed – to answer, with its aim of helping people save for a deposit on a first-home purchase, as well as save for a pension that is accessible at 60 years old.


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