Manasi Mitra is a single working woman and at the age of 34, she is now planning to get married. While her other friends of the same age, already have one or two children, she took a conscious decision to defer her marriage, in order to buy a house. Mitra, a copywriter at an advertising agency, bought a two-BHK house five years ago in New Town Rajarhat, an upcoming affordable locality of Kolkata. Mitra is not the only one to take such a decision.
28% women across the top 10 cities of India, are ready to defer their marriage plans for mortgage, as compared to only 22% men. Nearly two out of three women (62%) would not even mind selling their jewellery, for a piece of property. Even more in number (70% of single women) would prefer real estate as their preferred choice of investment. This is in comparison to only 58% single men who opt for real estate as primary investment option. These are the findings of a survey by Track2Realty across the top 10 cities.
The survey was aimed at understanding and assessing the role of women in home buying. It also aimed to gauge the quest of women for home ownership. Track2Realty conducted this survey in Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad. A majority of the respondents were working professionals and included singles and couples belonging to double-income families.
Women home buyer survey highlights
- 28% women prefer mortgage over marriage, against 22% men.
- 62% women are ready to sell their jewellery for property.
- 70% women prefer real estate as their first investment, as compared to 58% men.
- Single women are willing to spend up to 60% of their income on property, against 38% for men.
- 74% of the women are involved in home buying.
- 66% of married women were involved in the home buying decision of their families.
- The share of single women buyers in India, is 9%.
- The top three cities with single women buyers are Ahmedabad (14%), Kolkata (12%) and Bengaluru (11%).
- 13% of married women are major contributors in the home buying process.
- 60% of women buyers are below 40 years of age.
- 84% feel that developers do not understand the needs of women buyers.
- 58% of single buyers have faced discrimination.
- 92% women buyers said that they would like to see women sales staff.
- 78% single women buyers say they have faced discrimination in their neighbourhood.
- 64% women do not find the lower interest/stamp duty rates to be attractive.
- 42% of the women in the top 10 cities said they inherited family properties.
Home buying patterns of women
The survey clearly suggests marriage is as much a choice for women as mortgage. Even among married couples, the role of women is changing and they are increasingly getting into the driver’s seat, vis-à-vis property purchase. The survey finds that women in general and single women in particular, are keeping a house property at the core of their financial decisions. Take the case of Sweta Jha, a 26-year-old company secretary based in Delhi-NCR. She earns Rs 30,000 working at a Noida firm but has still ventured to buy a one-BHK apartment at Rs 16 lakhs in the city’s outskirts. “After all, it is going to be my own place, where no one will be allowed to interfere. It was tough for me to manage both, rent and EMI and hence, I decided to stay in a PG hostel, till I get the possession. I know the house is small but it is enough for a single woman and I can always think of incremental housing in the future,” says Jha.
The survey also finds that single men spend more than single women. More importantly, women tend to save a greater share of their earnings for a house, compared to men who spend a significant amount on travelling, hobbies, parties and leisure. Single women are ready to shell out 60% of their income for homes, as against men who are ready to shell out 38%. “For me, buying a home with a home loan, is not only viable but also a smart way to spend money and secure my future. I am confident in my ability to build equity, without having to rely on a spouse, roommate or parents,” says Meera Sampath in Bengaluru.
The role of women in property purchase decisions
Women are also major influencers in home buying, with as many as 74% women being directly involved in the decision making. Even when home buying is a family decision, 66% directly get involved in the process, right from house-hunting to the acquisition processes. The share of single women home buyers has crossed double digit percentage in cities like Ahmedabad (14%), Kolkata (12%) and Bengaluru (11%). Overall, the share of women home buyers who are single, is 9% across the top 10 cities. Moreover, no less than 13% of married women are large contributors in home purchases. Collectively, this means that women account for 22% of major buyers in the housing market. The survey also found that a majority of single women, who want to acquire a property, want to do so at a young age. No less than 60% single women home buyers that the survey reached out to, are below the age of 40 years. The survey also found that 42% of the respondents were the first generation of women to have a share in the family property.
Problems faced by women home buyers
However, developers, it seems, have failed to understand this changing home buying pattern. No less than 84% women maintain that the developers are neither listening to nor understanding their buying powers or choices. “Firstly, they do not treat us as serious buyers, unless accompanied by a male family member or friend. They often ask us to come with a cheque book, even if we want to negotiate with them, as if to judge whether we are serious buyers,” says Saloni Sharda in Noida. As many as 58% women even maintain that there is discrimination against them, when it comes to buying a house. The sales team of the developers is often clueless in how to deal with the women buyers.
“I once had a nauseating experience with a Pune developer, who had put a signboard at his project site that read: ‘Foreigners, dogs and singles are not allowed to buy’. Above all, what it says aloud is the mentality of the society at large, in dealing with singles in general and single women, in particular,” says a female journalist who wished to remain anonymous.
The society in general too seems unwilling to accept single home owners, with no less than 78% single home owners saying that they faced ostracism in their neighbourhood, in one form or another. So, what are the changes that women buyers would like to see, to make it easier for them to own properties? Nearly three out of four (64%) women do not think that concessional interest rates and/or lower stamp duty will attract women to invest in property. However, as many as 92% women maintain that developers need to have female sales staff to facilitate their home buying.
(The writer is CEO, Track2Realty)