Do women hold the reins when it comes to choosing the house?

Are women exercising their choice of a home in proportion to their estimated 75% joint ownership of residential property sold annually in the Western Cape metro area?
More women than in the past are signing the transfer documents to their new homes bought together with their spouses or partners and many of them are also undertaking to pay at least part of the monthly bond repayments from their own income.  But is house buying a joint venture in every respect, or do male partners still have the last word.

With a large covered patio with built-in braai and plenty of space for outside dining and entertaining, this immaculate and stylish home in Atlantic Beach Estate on Cape Town’s Western Seaboard includes five bedrooms three bathrooms, private courtyard and scenic views of Table Mountain. It is marketed by Pam Golding Properties at R5.4 million.

Things have changed radically says Laurie Wener, MD of Pam Golding Properties (PGP) Western Cape Metro Region.  “Women now undoubtedly represent a more influential market force than many of their mothers, and certainly the majority of their grandmothers. In less than two generations, the emphasis has swung away from male domination of women in a partnership or marriage,” she says.
“Part of this is economic, with women continuing their careers even through and after pregnancies, so the decision to buy a joint property with a partner or spouse factors-in both incomes. It generally also means that women cast an equal vote on the choice of a house, and the influence is probably weighed in their favour right now,” she says.
But do women and men really want different features in their homes, or are man caves, a bar and home theatres just a hangover of a more macho time when guys wouldn’t notice that the house didn’t have a kitchen?
“Well, the traditional, stereotypical, rather sexist version goes like this:

Men want lots of garaging - for more than the obligatory two cars - with the argument that teenager vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles, trailers, boats, garden equipment, tools and pottering around space is needed for him. He also needs a study, wine cellar, indoor and outdoor showers, a bar with counter and bar stools, giant TV screens, lots of space for extra length beds, fast internet connectivity; solar power, and, teenager accommodation on ‘the other side of the house’ - specially when there are his and her offspring.

Conveniently situated in Claremont Upper in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs - within walking distance of leading schools and all amenities, this spacious American Georgian style home has four bedrooms (all en suite), four reception rooms, swimming pool and superb indoor/outdoor flow. It is priced at R15.5 million through Pam Golding Properties.

“Then there’s what women want, according to the priorities established somewhere in the middle of the last century: pretty bedrooms with space for an extra wide bed; his and her bathrooms (his can be smaller), each with their own toilet, his and her walk in dressing areas with lots of built in storage, her own study or at least part of his space for her exclusive use.  Designer fully fitted kitchen with separate scullery and laundry area, partly or totally open plan to the dining room and family room. Good interior flow for easy cleaning; direct, level access from the garage to kitchen; close access to schools and shopping.  Self-contained staff quarters.  And all at a fanciful price tag also established somewhere in the 1980s.
“Then,” says Wener,  “there’s what conventional wisdom has us believe they both want: security; low maintenance; level gardens; swimming pools with pleasing outdoor living facilities and views – and most important, access to good schools.

With an appealing outdoor entertainment area and four bedrooms, five bathrooms, this appealing home is situated in a sought after secure estate in Constantia in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs, and marketed through Pam Golding Properties at R16.25 million.
“But currently, for the most part, with joint incomes and blurred lines of responsibility, needs and practicalities have merged to a large extent. So, aside from the few for whom price is no object, partners mostly share the prime priorities of security, affordability and conservative utility costs.”
What about the same-sex home owning partnership? Is it more complicated, or a lot easier to sort out the priorities? “Well, everyone’s an individual with particular likes and dislikes, so there will always be differences of opinion on what is an absolute must in a house, but generally the same rules apply. The house might not be ideal for either partner but may have enough positive aspects to swing the deal, and price and position will always be a major deciding factor.
“In reality, it’s probably a miracle that homes are generally bought as the result of an ultimate joint decision. Probably says a lot about most couples’ capacity to compromise.”

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