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Why single women outshine male peers in buying homes

By Steve Umidha
Friday, September 4th, 2020
Housing flats. Photo/File
In summary

Kenyan single women are outpacing their male counterparts when it comes to home ownership, a new study has revealed.

Data released by Mizizi Africa Homes, a real estate company and property consultant, shows that single women own 67 per cent of units in four of the company’s affordable housing projects compared to single men.

Single men, according to the findings, own less than 10 per cent while most of the women are single mothers aged over 30 years, mostly with two kids.

“We are increasingly recording more interest in our properties from women.

Most single women will tell you they want to create financial security for themselves and they find it in real estate,” said Mizizi Africa Homes’ chief executive, George Mburu.

Surprisingly, there is no record of a single man owning any unit over the last one year, while a few units have been taken up by married men with the young.

Strategic role

Mburu says the statistics reveal the strategic role women play in advancing the affordable housing agenda, fixing housing gaps in the country and their contribution in the built industry.

“As we continue building up information in the industry we begin to understand the level of participation of women in various segments within the construction sector to see which new opportunities we can avail for them within the built environment,” he added.

The developer began the process of deploying big data to its operations earlier in the year to boost efficiency of its operations and offer custom solutions to prospective homeowners.

Tim Kipchumba, a director at Questworks, another real estate development firm, agreed with the findings, arguing that the trend is being driven by women’s tenacious ability to save most of their earnings compared to their male counterparts using financial instruments like Saccos and Chamas.

He further says that the trend is also mirrored in other sectors like the auto industry with most women now making more car purchases than before.

Housing. Photo/Courtesy

“I think it correlates with what we can see in the industry and it really boils down to their (women) savings culture, a fact that we are not seeing in men.

We are having many inquiries made by these women now than men for our units in Lavington for example,” said Kipchumba in a telephone interview.

This trend is somewhat surprising, given the average woman in the country makes only 80 per cent of what the average man does with the majority of single women owning homes said to be in self-employment– a key factor that makes it possible to make such decisions as a single parent.

That gap, according to Kipchumba will continue to widen owing to the above mentioned factors coupled with the fact that most women have disposable income compared to their male counterparts.

Women are also known to make such decisions like choosing a home and houses.

A number of studies have demonstrated that the investment and retirement saving behaviours of women and men differ.

Despite high potential growth of the housing sector in Kenya, the sector is still grappling with many challenges including high cost of building and weak regulations, according to Ritz Housing and Properties, managing director, Samuel Mathenge.

“We are also talking about underutilised land in both the rural and urban areas. When we look around, there is still a lot of land which is bare and underutilised and that is essential for the housing sector,” he says.

The high cost of housing units and limited access to affordable long-term finance remain a leading housing market constraint in the local market, one of the key sectors to be adversely hit by coronavirus pandemic.

Mortgage providers

“To address this challenge, the government established Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company whose main purpose is to provide long term funds to primary housing mortgage providers in the housing sector.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani in his June maiden Budget speech, said the State had injected Sh15.5 billion allocation to Affordable Housing Programme.

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