What Women Want In A Home - November 2022
November 16, 2022 / Written by Rich Harvey
By Guest Blogger, Leanne Pilkington, CEO,
Laing & Simmons and Immediate Past President REINSW
It’s often said that women are the most important decision makers when it comes to buying a home. Leaving aside any outdated notions as to why this might be, this month Laing+Simmons CEO Leanne Pilkington runs through the considerations many women weigh up.
Buying property is a major decision. It’s not easy, it takes a leap of faith, and to even be in a position to do so is usually the result of some serious saving and hard work over many years.
In many cases, the journey to get to this point is more challenging for women. Those women who enter the market when they are younger may experience the benefits of equity down the track, especially as their needs change through life.
An apartment in a great location might make a great first home, but for many women who desire a family, an upgrade will often be on the cards at some point. Even as households change and family apartment living becomes more normalised, the desire for more space will be a reality for many women at some stage in their lives.
I asked a male colleague who’s married to ask his wife her thoughts on the most important features in a home. This woman is in a family with kids and works full-time, as does her husband.
“Kitchen” was the immediate response. Plenty of storage and bench space is important. We need to be careful about stereotypes, but the reality is for most families - and not just women but everyone - the kitchen is a place in which we spend a good deal of time.
Plenty of storage space overall is a key consideration. Built-in wardrobes are preferred. Large bedrooms are a nice-to-have. Women will often ask agents about the security features of a home.
These kinds of headline considerations provide an indication of the mindset of some women when looking at homes to purchase. Generalisations are both dangerous and pointless, as what constitutes the ideal property is inherently personal. But for most women, practicality rates highly.
Style, design, prestige and aesthetics are important on some scale to everyone, but degrees vary. Location, size, access to local amenities like schools, healthcare and childcare, and other physical considerations are just as, if not more, important.
Marketing campaigns should therefore address this balance of comfort and practicality. The best agents are well aware of this.
It’s no secret that women on a whole experience a reduced capacity to build wealth at the same pace as men. On average, women earn less, have access to fewer career growth opportunities, and accumulate less superannuation on account of spending time out of the workforce to raise children.
All these factors matter when it comes to buying a home. And there are others. Women who are divorced may find their borrowing capacity significantly limited. Women with single incomes, particularly if they’re responsible for children, are bearing an intense brunt of the recent interest rate increases, with their ability to compete for available properties constrained.
Those fleeing an unsafe environment may be forced to leave behind everything. The shelters which accommodate domestic violence victims support a large number of women, highlighting the enormity of this urgent societal problem. There’s a strong argument for the community and Governments to more effectively help these women re-build their lives, including through the purchase of their own home.
Amid the challenges women can face in buying property, those able to proceed have the reasonable expectation of value. For a financial commitment as large as a home purchase, women want to feel as secure as possible. They desire comfort that the value of their asset will increase over time, that their investment will bear fruit, that despite any broader economic concerns, bricks and mortar is something they can rely on. Just as any buyer would.
For those women wanting an additional advantage and support on their buying journey, I would recommend they consider using a quality buyers advocate to help them find and negotiate the best opportunities in the market.
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