Indian Women Are Challenging The Odds To Become Property Owners
No matter what they say, a woman homebuyer in India might still not find her path towards property purchase as easy and as hassle-free as they project it to be. Women who have down that road would vouch for that fact. Anita Gujral, a 36-year-old professional working with a remittances firm, says she got several surprises on her journey of buying a new home. “I got in touch with a broker, who had facilitated home purchases for some of my colleagues. Now, I did get the feeling he expected a husband or a brother to accompany me when I was going to take such a major step in life. I got the feeling that a man by my side would have sent the message that I was serious about property purchase,” says Gujaral. Gujral is a single woman based out of Pune, and is the owner of a 2BHK apartment in the city.
In the West, things are slightly different, if not entirely. In the United States, single women were 18 per cent of all home buyers in 2019. Back in 2009, this number stood at 21 per cent. Women’s increased spending capacity, says a recent report in Bloomberg, might help women to claim the same share in the near future. Over the past three years, for example, there has been an increase in the number of single women earning more than $100,000 in cities such as Boston, Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego. Another research states that in 40 per cent of American households, women are the only source of income. This could also indicate that even when married, women’s income may be a substantial part that goes towards homebuying.
Barriers for women home buyers in India
While the number of women homebuyers is certainly increasing in India, there are still several deterrents in the way as far as property ownership among women is concerned. In 2014, for instance, a three-state survey conducted by UN Women and Landesa recorded that in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, only 13 per cent of women who could inherit land, have inherited or expect to inherit the immovable asset. That year, over 60 per cent of such women signed no-objection certificates and renounced their rights over the property. The survey was undertaken to study the formal and informal barriers to the implementation of the Hindu Succession Act, 2005.
For women who are born in one home and wed into another, the only opportunity, mostly, to buy their own house is to collaborate with the husband. Women have to sign joint home loan applications even if the property is registered solely in their name because she prefers to keep out of 'money matters' and 'running around'. That is not to say, things are not changing for the better.
Ravi Nautiyal, a banker by profession, says he gives as much importance to his wife's decision as to his own. “Ultimately, both of us have to live together. Each of us has to like the house where we would share our lives.” His wife Pallavi Nautiyal, who is an engineer by profession, says that she finalised the location and the property. As far as meeting with people concerned her husband took the lead, she says, considering it was 'not safe' for her to venture out on such errands all alone.
Raising money to buy homes is more difficult for women
Between 2004 and 2011, the percentage of working women in India fell drastically from 35 per cent to 25 per cent as projected by The International Labour Organization. The organisation suggested that India should put in place better-working conditions, access to jobs and an anti-discrimination policy to help them participate better.
However, there are women battling the odds, to buy their own home. Sakshi Vasudeva, an economist with a Chennai-based company, says, “There are many benefits of being able to buy a home on your own. There are stamp duty reductions and even home loan discounts, although marginal and backed by many terms and conditions. Although many women keep away from investing, it surely is a liberating feeling.”
Kishor Pate, CMD, Amit Enterprises Housing, says, “Buying a home is not only a matter of instincts and good taste, but also of proper planning and foresight. Women, who are investigating the market for suitable properties, either for themselves or for their family, must consider the initial and future costs, be realistic with a forward focus, shop around extensively for home loans and never compromise on the credibility of the developer.”