Steps Kenyan women need to make on property ladder


The debate on whether real estate development and built sector in Kenya should be regulated is not new and the sector is also no stranger to regulation. PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

Only 4.5 percent of women in Kenya aged between 15 to 49 years own a house alone, according to the recent Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2022, while 27.7 percent own the houses jointly with their husbands. This is against 34.7 percent of men who own the homes alone and 8.5 percent who do with their wives.

The trend also reflects significant gender disparity in home ownership despite Kenyan women having proven to be changemakers in many fields — from technology, medicine to education, finance among others.

The majority of women have similarly played an important role in the country’s real estate sector, both as consumers and professionals.

Despite this, they continue to be an essential target market for developers, especially in urban areas, tied to increasing advancement in career and entrepreneurship.

This is mostly informed by the fact that Kenyan women have become decision influencers, hence making individual decisions in home purchase matters.

Additionally, women are increasingly landing good jobs with outstanding growth prospects, not only in the corporate arena but also at all levels of government and development organisations.

The interest in real estate by the percentage of women is therefore driven by the need for portfolio diversification and cushion against valuation losses due to inflation.

As a result, some women across urban Kenya have taken advantage of multiple benefits available only to them, such as tax breaks and lower home loan interest rates offered by some banks.

The expanding interest in real estate has equally been on the back of women increasingly pursuing careers in real estate, with some estimates suggesting that women make up nearly half of all new agents.

Globally, data in some countries has also shown that more women at 65 percent prefer investing in real estate over bonds or stocks.

Besides, International Finance Corporation (IFC) data states that Kenya has a relatively untapped housing finance market with significant unmet demand for housing finance among women.

IFC estimates $14.8 billion (Sh2.15 trillion) as the size of the market for women's housing loans as at 2020 despite the hurdles women face.

Robust growth among female property buyers has been witnessed regionally in the past few years – showing that women are progressively investing in property.

Separate findings by the World Bank also show that between the years 2020 and 2022, women buying property increased from nine percent to 47 percent of all buyers across the country.

While there are major challenges in achieving financial stability for many women, including the gender pay gap and limited access to resources due to cultural barriers, especially in Africa, the modern woman regards owning a home as an important milestone towards achieving financial independence.

With shifting priorities, today’s women are also keen on getting empowered on financial inclusion, equality, and literacy.

Sound careers

Through this favourable market scenario and the growing demand in the property sector, the real estate industry is hugely contributing to the nation’s economic growth while providing capital gains among investors.

The modern-day Kenyan woman symbolises the desire to become financially independent. This is the ideal time for women to free themselves from limitations towards being homeowners.

It’s also time for policymakers to put more emphasis on frameworks that will attract a diverse workforce to establish sound careers for women in the real estate sector.

Ultimately, this would not only prove to be beneficial for women, but for the entire Kenyan property market.

The author is the Trust Secretary, the Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme.

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