With the theme of International Women’s Day 2019 being #BalanceforBetter, Smart Property Investment spoke to some female property experts to find out what property investment looks like from a woman’s perspective.
Property is the number-one financial priority for most Australians, and women are no exception to this. In fact, for couples purchasing an owner-occupied property, research from NAB in 2017 showed women were the lead in the decision making process in 92 per cent of cases.
In the world of property investment, experts like Melinda Jennison, managing director of Streamline Property Buyers Brisbane, has seen women take a more active role in securing their own property portfolio in the last decade.
However, she believes the current market for women is not without its challenges.
“I think that a lot of women feel disempowered to make decisions around property because traditionally, the decisions in relation to property ownership have been made by males and their male partners,” Ms Jennison said to Smart Property Investment.
“In line with the changes that have happened with women in society in general, I think it’s an important step for women [now to] make to move into the future to empower themselves and become more informed in property,” she said.
One of the strengths women bring to business is their ability to communicate and appreciate the emotion of others. For Ms Jennison, it's important this is capitalised on in the right way during a negotiation process.
“I certainly think women need to learn how to negotiate without emotion and try to therefore land themselves with the best possible deal,” she said.
Ms Jennison also recommend women should connect with sales agents that are willing to work with them.
“Really become familiar with the local agents in the area that they’re looking to buy and develop a relationship with them in the sense that when they get to know those people, and they’re quite personable with those people, they’ll actually help the women to find the right property and guide them thought that process,” she said.
“Unfortunately, in the world we live in, there are still some dominant male personalities who may not help women as much as they want to help men, and that shouldn’t be the case, but it does still happen from time to time.”
It is not just buyer’s agents who identify that sales agents need to build up a relationship with their client to sell a property, but sales agents themselves, as identified by Alison Coopes, director of Agency by Alison Coopes.
“Women tend to want to have a relationship to move forward to a close,” Ms Coopes said to Smart Property Investment.
“They don’t want to just go, ‘here’s an offer, take it.’ They’re more interested in bonding with the person because it gives the woman more satisfaction as well.
“It gives me more satisfaction across the board to be able to relate, if you were my vendor, I would not feel satisfied if I hadn’t been able to really understand what was driving you and connect with you, the sale would not be a satisfying process for me, so I think for a woman, it’s about wanting to form those relationships.”
Ms Coopes also agreed with Ms Jennison’s sentiment of the few dominant male personalities in the sales agent industry.
“Even when I’ve been working with men on a co-joined agency, that they’ll often step in and say things in advance of it being the appropriate time to do so and without identifying what the vendors might be concerned [with] before you step into the next stage,” Ms Coopes said.
“To tie the deal, you need to know what their concerns [are] about, and they need to understand that you’ve covered off on everything, and often time there’s less patience for a man in terms of moving into close, and all they’re looking at is the close rather than developing the relationship to the point where there is a successful close.”
However, instead of trying to change tactics in property investment, Ms Coopes recommended for women to not use tactics and not to be anything other than what they are: female.
“That’s what in our DNA. Don’t try and be other than who you are. That would be the tactic,” she said.
“If you want to follow it from the theme of the International Women's point of view, don’t feel inadequate because you’re a woman, feel empowered that you’re able to create the same results, but in a different way and be happy about that.”
While not directly related to the property investment process, Ms Jennsion said women should also have a good understanding of their portfolio of assets to stay on top of their financial position, particularly given the possibility of divorce.
“If property is part of a portfolio of assets, they need to understand how property performs and how that property can potentially set them up for the future.
“They need to empower themselves to make financial decisions independent of men, again, because there are more women who may not have partners [when they are] older in life, so if they have a better understanding and they’ve educated themselves throughout life, then they’re in a position to make better financial decision.”
Having a grasp on their financial education is also something that People’s Choice Credit Union’s Lisa Jones stressed was important.
“If they can understand where their money is, how it’s invested, the impact that it has on them regardless if it’s direct property, the share market, anything like that, just make sure that you educate and you know and understand exactly where you're investing,” Ms Jones said to Smart Property Investment.
“Never be afraid to seek advice, and it’s never too late to learn.”
One specific instance that women investors need to consider is how saving for superannuation can be a different task than compared to men.
“When you’re looking at women in general, there’s generally the ones that have a career break if they’re having children,” she said.
“You see that they either have a period of time where they’re out of the workforce and they’re not receiving superannuation.
“Some employers, while you’re on maternity leave, they will actually pay your superannuation guarantee for you. But because women do have that time out of the workforce, that does help contribute to their lower super balances at retirement.”
Women who also find themselves taking time out of the workforce, may want to consider running their own business from home.
“They do stay home for quite a while, so they’re running their own businesses from home and making homemade goods, selling them via the social media platforms that they sell them through or the local pop-up markets are very popular for women doing that,” Ms Jones said.
“If you've got those types of women, they definitely need to ensure that they’re paying their future selves and putting money into superannuation, just to cover themselves later on in life.”