Taking Financial Ownership

Single women want a key – not a ring

by Despina Zanganas

Sorry, Beyonce, but the numbers don’t lie. These days, it looks like more single women equate their happily ever after with home ownership — not marriage. And while they aren’t necessarily choosing one over the other, they certainly aren’t waiting for Prince Charming to come along before purchasing a home.

Numbers don’t lie

While many of the statistics are coming out of the US, it’s safe to assume that, up here in Canada, we’re following a similar trend. What trend is that? Well, for one, female home ownership is going up — so much so that they’ve surpassed the rate at which men are buying in both of our countries.

In the States, single women are buying homes at twice the rate of men. And in Canada — after doing some math and a bit of assuming* — it looks like women make up 51.6% of homeowners in our country.

*Statistics Canada only provides the stats for the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and Nova Scotia

And in Toronto specifically, the numbers are a little higher than Canada overall: Women own 52.2% of single-detached homes, and 56.5% of condos.

Buying solo: What women want… and why?

Women are slowly but surely becoming the majority despite a very real (and very complex) wage gap. Yes, that’s right, on average, women are still earning less than their male counterparts — even when they’re doing the exact same job.

So why and how are we buying homes like never before?

To put it simply, women tend to view their home as an investment. And while they may not be making as much money as their male colleagues, they may simply be savvier with their earnings.

Many have been contributing to their nest egg for years, and are therefore able to make the down payment on their own terms. Others do it with a little bit of help — whether that be a loan from their parents, a gift from a wealthy family member, or an inheritance.

But this has got to be one of the best reasons I’ve ever heard:

“The down payment was my ‘wedding’ gift. My parents figured that I wasn’t going to get married, and even if I did, I wouldn’t want a wedding,” says Sakina Rizvi, Scientist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. So since they lavished my three older sisters with expensive wedding celebrations, this was their ‘congratulations on being single and independent!’ gift to me.”

I reflected on my own reasons for buying my first property while single, and spoke to some other independent women who held the “single lady” status at the time of purchase. Here are some of the reasons that came out of our discussion:

“I wanted my own place and I didn’t see the point of renting. I didn’t want to waste all this money I had saved.” – L.B.

Jackpot. As already mentioned, many women have been saving their hard-earned dollars for years, and putting that money towards rent can feel like they’re throwing it away. Using that money to pay a mortgage, however, is an excellent investment.

I have dogs so I prefer having my own space.” – J.G.M

Yes! Many don’t want to have to ask permission to do things — whether that be to paint the house, adopt a pet, or do renovations. Home ownership comes with a real sense of independence that many of these women seek.

“My mom was really insistent I get into the housing market.” – S.R.

I hear this a lot. It’s the mothers that are encouraging their single daughters to make this sort of investment at this stage in their life. Often, they are willing to help out with the down payment, which can certainly be a motivating factor.

Cold feet?

But there are still clients who are truly terrified about where the market is today — that they’ll never get their money back. To them, I say: So did I, and boy, was I wrong!

When I first bought my current home, I was sure that I had overpaid, that the market would tank. On the contrary, the value of my home has more than tripled. Of course, you have to be comfortable with the idea of your home being a long-term investment. If you know you’re going to move in 3 years, this sort of financial commitment may not be for you.

A ring versus a key

 It breaks my heart when I meet a client who says, “What if I meet a guy? We could get a bigger place together, so I should wait.”

In my case, it didn’t even occur to me that I could — or should — buy something with a partner. I just knew I wanted my own condo at the time so I went for it. Plus, the idea of having a property to fall back on if a future relationship fails can make you feel very Carrie Bradshaw-esque.

I didn’t want to put life on hold hoping that a special someone would come along.” – J.G.M.

Agreed! My advice is always: “Don’t wait for a ring to get yourself a key. A man wouldn’t think like that.”

Despina Zanganas is a long-time homeowner and Toronto-based realtor on a mission to educate and empower female buyers while they seek out the home of their dreams.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Equitable Bank. Any information provided is for information purposes only and Equitable Bank makes no representations as to the validity, accuracy, completeness or suitability of any content. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional or undertake your own research before making financial decisions.

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