Unlocking the Property Potential for Kenyan Women: A Deep Dive
In the dynamic landscape of Kenyan real estate, there’s a conspicuous trend—while many women are actively investing in property through investment groups or individually, there remains a significant gap in the number of career women owning homes. This discrepancy raises critical questions about the factors influencing women’s participation in the property market, the types of properties they acquire, and the overarching dynamics within the real estate industry.
The Current Scenario
According to recent findings from the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS), there’s a stark contrast in property ownership across different demographics of women. The survey reveals that married women, constituting 52.5 percent, are the largest group of home-owners, whereas only 14 percent of divorced women own homes. The statistics are even more striking for unmarried women, with a mere 1.8 percent being homeowners. Additionally, a mere nine percent of women in Kenya own a title deed.
Identifying the Challenges
Experts attribute the low participation of women in real estate to several factors. One prominent issue is a lack of specific knowledge about real estate. Samah Rustam, a development advisor at HassConsult, emphasizes that many women, regardless of financial capacity, lack essential knowledge about investment options and payment plans available in the real estate market. This knowledge gap affects both those with the means to invest and those without.
George Wachiuri, CEO of Optiven, highlights the influence of family as a driving factor for women in property acquisition. He notes that women, especially in the middle-income quantile, are increasingly investing in property with a focus on securing a home for their children’s future.
The Role of Empowerment
While some women leave investment decisions to their partners initially, there’s a notable shift towards independence and ownership among married women. Gregory Mwaura, a psychologist, explains that property ownership symbolizes personal security and freedom for married women. In a society where assets enhance one’s capacity to nurture, owning property provides a sense of security for caregivers.
Economic Factors and Discrimination
The rise of women in the workforce, particularly in managerial and executive roles, has not necessarily translated into increased home loan borrowers. Samuel Tiras Wainaina, the director of Dream Credit, points out that discrimination against women by financiers remains a significant barrier. The financial requirements for paying off a mortgage are often deemed out of reach for most women due to the lack of collateral.
Picky Buyers: Preferences and Affordability
Interestingly, women exhibit a penchant for value-added products over simple land purchases. Proximity to schools and hospitals is a major consideration for women when buying property. Affordability, determined by earning power and financial capabilities, plays a crucial role. Shafana Rajani, the executive director of Laser Property Services, argues that the majority of women in high-paying jobs are still men, creating financial challenges for women.
The Profile of Women Property Buyers
The average Kenyan woman who owns property is described as financially stable through employment, often occupying an executive position. If not employed, she may have stable investments and a reliable income. Education in finance and wealth management is common among women property buyers. Some may be married to financially strong partners or have support from wealthy parents.
Challenges Faced by Women
Despite their proven capabilities in various fields, including real estate, women face challenges in achieving financial stability, including the gender pay gap and limited access to resources due to cultural barriers. However, the modern Kenyan woman considers owning a home as a crucial milestone towards achieving financial independence.
Opportunities and the Way Forward
While challenges persist, there is a growing interest in real estate among Kenyan women. Tax breaks and lower home loan interest rates offered by some banks are incentivizing women to invest in property. The World Bank reports a significant increase, from nine percent to 47 percent, in women buying property between 2020 and 2022. This highlights the potential for growth and empowerment within the real estate sector for women.
In conclusion, the journey of Kenyan women towards property ownership is nuanced, influenced by a myriad of factors including knowledge gaps, economic challenges, and cultural norms. To unlock the full potential of women in the real estate sector, it is essential to address these challenges through targeted education, financial support, and cultural shifts. Policymakers, industry stakeholders, and society as a whole play a crucial role in fostering an environment where women can thrive as homeowners and contributors to the nation’s economic growth.