New Zealand's 'disturbing' gender property gap revealed

Of the 1.7million New Zealand properties analysed, property solely belonging to an owner identified as female represented 17.4 percent.
Of the 1.7million New Zealand properties analysed, property solely belonging to an owner identified as female represented 17.4 percent. Photo credit: Getty Images

New research reveals just how wide New Zealand's gender property gap is with 1.8 percent, or 31,000 more properties owned solely by men than women.

The research by property data and analytics provider CoreLogic, released on International Women's Day, highlights how the gender pay gap affects homeownership.

Corelogic labelling the data as "disturbing." 

"As property ownership is ultimately a function of income, fixing the gender wealth gap in property could be about fixing the gender pay gap, which in New Zealand is -9.5 percent

between men and women, and -13.4 percent in Australia." says New Zealand country manager for Corelogic Simone Moors. 

"The lower the income, the harder it is to access property, and this has significant implications for women."

Of the 1.7million New Zealand properties analysed, property solely belonging to an owner identified as female represented 17.4 percent whereas property solely belonging to an owner identified as male represented 19.2 percent - which amounts to over 31,000 more properties owned by men than women. 

In provincial areas the gap is even wider; Southland has a gap of 5.1 percent, and on the West Coast where sole women own only 14.1 percent of the properties, the gap is 11.5 percent.

Corelogic senior property economist Kelvin Davidson says this is due to economic activity in these areas tending to be male-dominated. 

"On the West Coast, where exclusive female ownership is comparatively low at 16.9 percent, that is likely attributable to some degree to the agri-business focus of economic activity in that region, such as farming, forestry, fishing or mining, which tend to be male-dominated professions."

At a regional level, cities are seeing a higher rate of female property ownership. Auckland coming out on top with the highest share of female-only property ownership at 23.7 percent. 

The report says this may be influenced by the number of units and apartments in cities which tend to be more affordable. 

Kiwi women also fall short of Australian women when it comes to homeownership. Of the properties analysed Australian women own 24.1 percent - 6.7 percentage points higher than New Zealand. 

Sole males in Australia owned 27.7 percent of the properties analysed.

Moors says that while the numbers may not seem significant on paper, they paint a larger picture of the financial disadvantage women face in New Zealand and Australia. 

"It is not minor when you account for the flow-on effects in the real world, from wealth creation throughout working life to the ability to self-provide in retirement."

In both countries, the most common type of homeownership was property where men and women had shared ownership. This accounted for 56.8 percent of properties analysed in New Zealand and 43.9 percent of properties analysed in Australia. 

Shared ownership implies two or more incomes were used to buy the property," says Moors. "So the high level of 'mixed gender' ownership could speak to affordability constraints

trying to buy on just one income."

Moors says this is to "some degree" down to the gender pay gap. 

"Lower-income means tougher access to property, and may explain the relative majority in New Zealand of women sharing ownership with men and a further 2.9 percent of joint female ownership." 

Moors says property ownership is a "pillar" of retirement in both countries, helping to reduce housing costs when income has dropped and reducing the likelihood of poverty in retirement. 

Homeownership also allows for wealth accumulation which can support living standards, health costs and support intergenerational wealth. 

"There is a need to maintain or increase broader provisions for those who do not have

access to the property market, such as social provisions for women who may have recently

exited property ownership as a result of a relationship breakdown, and an increase to KiwiSaver

provisions for those who have been unable to buy a property during their working life."

Moor adds that "any long-term policy" aimed at addressing rates of female property ownership "should focus in part on the gender pay gap."