What the Dickens? Why house-buying for women need not be bleak.

Posted 13.11.2020

It may be 2020 but has the world moved on for women as much as it should have done since Charles Dickens’ days?

Dickens is criticised for his stereotypical portrayal of females but this shouldn’t be too surprising as the Married Women’s Property Act didn’t become law until the year he died.

That was 1870 – the first time that women could be the legal owners of money they earned and inherit property in their own name.

One hundred and fifty years later, young women are still having to fight their corner in the workplace and the property market.

Specialist bank Aldermore’s First Time Buyer Index revealed that nine out of ten women dream of having their own place but only 68% believe this goal is unachievable*(2019).

The study found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of women consider the house-buying process difficult, compared with fewer than half (46%) of men.

For many women, the gender pay gap remains a barrier too. It stands at 8.9% between full-time male and female full-time workers but 17.3% taking into account full-and part-time workers** (2019).

With the average first home in the UK costing £231,455 and the average first-time deposit at around £46,187*** (2020) it should hardly come as a surprise that a woman needs more than 12 times her annual salary to be able to buy a home in England, compared with a little over eight times for a man****(2019).

The situation is further compounded by the fact that plenty of women continue to assume a disproportionate share of family and childcare duties, which means they often tend to work flexibly in a self-employed capacity or as freelancers, for fewer hours – and, therefore, earn even less.

The good news is that there is a potential chance to redress the balance with the hint of a government-backed first-time buyer’s scheme, aimed at helping younger people on lower incomes.

With talk of 5% deposits and fixed-rate mortgages and a potential launch date in 2023, this is now the time to think about starting to save or saving more in preparation if it does happen.

There is also the option of exploring St. James’s Place’s range of Family Assistance mortgages.

There are intergenerational products available for parents and grandparents wishing to give their children or grandchildren a leg up on the property ladder.

And now might be the right time to have that frank discussion about whether or how they could help.

Give it some thought. Not all property owners need to have Great Expectations or be as rich as Miss Havisham.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

*Aldermore, First Time Buyer Index, 2019

**ONS Gender Pay Gap in the UK: 2019

***Halifax First Time Buyer Review, January 2020

**** Women’s Budget Group. A Home of Her Own, Housing and Women. July 2019