Only 11% of properties in India are in the name of women today. Cultural factors like widespread patriarchy, passing on of family property to men and the fact that men have traditionally been the breadwinners are some of the reasons for this trend. However, rising economic self-sufficiency among women could change this trend in the coming years.
In fact there are a number of good reasons why women today, should in fact, own property, as Manika Premsingh of Orbis Economics points out below in an article that first appeared in Women's Web.
Indian women today are more self-sufficient than ever before as is evident from the fact that a larger number of women are getting educated outside their hometowns, that they are stepping out of the home to join the workforce in increasing numbers, and the fact that they are making more independent social choices like marrying at later ages and living solo.
Women’s empowerment and the changing socio-economic dynamics in India call for a closer look at why Indian women need to invest, and in what areas. With a focus on attaining stability, security and even wealth, Indian women have to make a critical decision – that of real estate.
In this article, we look at five reasons why Indian women need to invest in property:
1. Higher income
As women increasingly occupy the formal workplace, their incomes are on the rise, and as a result they have money in their hand. While rising prices, more consumer goods and other demands of the modern life mean that a fair bit of these incomes go into spending, two income households and a rise in overall level of incomes also means more money to save. Since property investments can save on rents and give good returns over time, it is one of the important options to consider.
2. Investment incentives
In a bid to encourage Indian women to invest in real estate, a number of state governments like Delhi and Gujarat have waived off registration on property purchase by women. While this is a relatively small proportion of the total amount spent on property, it is still an appreciable sum in absolute numbers. Already, in Gujarat, there have been reports of a rise in property ownership by women. While this does not necessarily reflect that more women are investing in property – as menfolk of a family can buy property in the woman’s name to avail of the waiver in registration – it does encourage women to invest in property too.
3. Investment portfolio diversification
Any financial advisor will recommend having a diversified investment basket with equities, debt, commodities and real estate as the major choices. This helps in lowering the risk profile of the investor on the one hand and also allows the investor to be rewarded for high risk-high return investments. At present, property is seen as an attractive investment since equities have not performed very well in recent years, debt offers limited fixed return, and prices of commodities like gold have also started coming down now.
4. Rising age of marriage
As more and more Indian women get educated and join the workforce, the average age of marriage in a segment of the Indian population is on the rise. Added to this is the fact that education and work are often away from the hometown, so single women living independently is a common feature today, especially in the metros. This in effect means that women rent houses independently as they start working. A regular salary is a good place to start when thinking of investments, and if cash is spent on rents, when possible, putting it into an appreciating asset like real estate can actually be a good decision.
5. Going solo
Not only is the average age of marriage on the rise, but single people are increasingly beginning to remain so. According to research by Euromonitor, India is one of the 3 countries with the fastest growth in the single population, the other two being Brazil and China. This means that more and more people are now choosing to stay single, particularly as women become financially independent and are able to provide for themselves. In this scenario, women need to invest in real estate, since it provides security, and a good saving since it generates good returns. Even for those women who are married, divorce rates in India are rising, and property in one’s own name can help money management after divorce(or in other unfortunate circumstances like death of a spouse or needing to walk out of an abusive marriage).
Over time, it is likely that these trends will get further reinforced as the economy grows and develops, since it will create more job opportunities for women, and allow education to reach a larger mass of people. There is a new breed of independent Indian women visible even today and overtime, we will see it evolving further. This calls for a more serious thought on how and why women need to invest – and having a house of one’s own could be a very good idea!