Today’s Savvy Women Can’t Afford NOT to Buy Real Estate

Karen KesselDowntown Guelph

Photo by Slim Hamdi ©

Photo by Slim Hamdi ©

Mary Richards and Murphy Brown, even Rhoda Morganstern, albeit fictional, were positive role models for young professional women who took control of their lives and their careers. We’ve been seeing more and more of this independence in the real estate world. Whether single or divorced, young or older, women are making an impact as they make more real estate purchases than their single male counterparts.

It’s always been accepted that the woman is the most influential in the homebuying decisions made by couples. It’s only logical that women would make these same decisions and commitments on their own and that’s definitely what we’ve been seeing for many years. The lowest interest rates in history, great selection of new and re-sale homes, and an ever-growing condo market are providing increased opportunities for women to buy real estate as an investment, their principal residence or even a cottage.

Ipsos-Reid conducted a poll among women 20 to 45 who have purchased a condo or home independently. It revealed that 29 was the average age when purchasing their first home. Additionally, 82 per cent were single, 80 per cent had no children, 49 per cent have a university degree, and 86 per cent still live in the last home they purchased. Further results revealed: 71 per cent felt buying a condo or home was a good investment; 61 per cent said they did not want to pay rent anymore; and 54 per cent had a desire to get into the housing market. Purchasing a home provides security, a roof over their heads and a chance to build equity for the future.

One of my client’s needed a home with a yard as she had two dogs. Looking for a rental, she started looking at townhomes but many prohibited pets. Both townhomes and detached rentals were very costly so she turned her sights to the resale market. With the low interest rates, she discovered she could BUY a house WITH a yard and carry it (principal, interest, taxes and insurance!) for considerably less than a rental property—and make her own rules AND build equity. She couldn’t afford NOT to buy.

And, if it’s on realty TV, it must be true. A new HGTV Canada show called Buy Herself shows how single women have shifted from being a niche portion of the real estate market to a significant part of the housing equation. The tag line is “No man. No dual income. No problem.”

TD Canada Trust also weighs in on this trend. Their poll reports that the desire to live in a secure, maintenance-free home is high on the list of reasons for condo or townhome ownership. Nationally, 40 per cent of women polled pointed to maintenance costs as the main reason they did not buy a detached home. But buying an apartment condo or townhouse is a different matter. Maintenance in the form of snow removal, lawn care and exterior repairs are generally covered by condo or co-op fees.

Buying new has the obvious appeal of new finishes, with the additions of close proximity to transit, shopping and dining – it’s a packaged lifestyle, a new lifestyle for someone finally finished school and embarking on a new career, or someone building a new life at the end of a marriage or relationship. Plus, condo ownership enables you to control monthly expenses. As an example, in downtown Guelph you can purchase a one bedroom room + den condo, approx. 950 square feet for $280,000. Monthly condo fees of approx.  30 cents/square foot include heat, central air, water, maintenance and reserve fund, and building insurance. Often, the mortgage will include a tax component paid on the property owner’s behalf to the mortgage holder/bank, leaving the homeowner with just hydro and cable expenses!

Several new condo projects have made buying easier. One deposit of $20,000.00 will firm up your commitment to your suite, and you pay nothing more for two years until it is complete. The investment grows as you build equity because suites in a finished building will be priced higher than those purchased at pre-construction prices. You can continue to put money aside while you await occupancy. If you are selling a property, that property will continue to rise in value until it’s time to sell.