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Three Single Women On Their Struggle To Buy Their First Home

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Three Single Women On Their Struggle To Buy Their First Home

While chancellor Rishi Sunak implemented temporary measures on the housing market to keep sales going during the coronavirus pandemic, not everyone found themselves in a position to get their feet on the property ladder.

As all painfully skint millennials know, buying houses is notoriously spenny business, and so it's naturally logical that two combined salaries are better than one.

Research by Statisca show that couples dominated the housing market in 2020, with 74.6 per cent of all houses being sold to couples - effectively leaving lone buyers struggling with the costs alone (something we've taken to calling 'the single tax').

But while it's difficult for singletons of all genders to raise the required funds, it's women who are hit hardest by this 'single tax'.

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Getting on the property ladder is tougher than ever before (Credit: Unsplash)
Getting on the property ladder is tougher than ever before (Credit: Unsplash)

On average, women earn 23.5 per cent less than men, and this is reflected in the property market - while 8.8 per cent of all homes on the market are being bought by single men, just 6.6 per cent of single women are shelling out on a home they can call their own.

Yep, it's a bummer. However, all is not lost. Tyla has spoken to three women on how they managed to beat the 'single tax' and become proud homeowners.

Katie: The pay gap between men and women should be closed

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Katie bought her property in Wakefield (Credit: Katie Evans)
Katie bought her property in Wakefield (Credit: Katie Evans)

PR Consultant Katie Evans, 31, realised it was time to take the plunge and buy her own place in 2018, after breaking up with her boyfriend. The split saw her having to move back into her parents' home in Leeds.

"I was getting to that stage where I was ready to live independently but I really wanted to buy," she explains to Tyla. "Buying a house was something that was really important to me."

Amassing a significant deposit wasn't the immediate problem for Katie. As someone who has been on a decent salary since leaving university, plus without having to shell out extortionate rent any more, she could save a significant chunk of her earnings.

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But that still wasn't quite enough to cover the numerous costs moving house involves, such as brokerage fees and solicitors - meaning Katie had to become increasingly savvy with her savings.

"I had a round-up feature on my cards, so every time I spent a certain amount on something, the amount would be rounded up to the nearest pound and the remainder would be put away," she said. "I then saved £1000 through a lifetime ISA.

"I had to sell a lot of stuff I no longer needed on Facebook Marketplace to raise money."

However, despite the measures Katie went to, she found herself rapidly eating through her savings when she went through the process of buying. While she initially looked at properties in Leeds, Katie chose to relocate to Wakefield, where house prices were much cheaper.

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And while she acknowledges she's lucky she could live with her parents to save for her own place, Katie argues for single women who are forced to rent, it's almost impossible.

"I know I'm in such a privileged position that I moved home," she says. "Not everyone can live with their parents, or choose to live in the North, where it's cheaper.

"If you're a single woman and you're looking to buy a house, it's so much more difficult when you're renting. I don't think I would have been able to afford my deposit if I kept renting."

Katie believes that closing the gender pay gap is one thing that would readdress the unfairness of the 'single tax'.

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"I know someone in one of my first graduate jobs where the girl and the guy first had the same job role and same job titles, but he being paid an extra couple of thousand a year but for the same job," she says. "When you're trying to save, that makes all the difference.

"There's often such a stark difference between what men and women earn, and there are times where I'm like, argh, I wish I had bought with someone. But when you're a single woman, it's so easy to fall into the renting trap. And I think in general, women are viewed so patronisingly when they're making big decisions on their own. It puts people off."

Melissa: The 'single tax' has made it harder for me to date

Melissa felt empowered after buying her own property (Credit: Melissa Lewis)
Melissa felt empowered after buying her own property (Credit: Melissa Lewis)

Melissa Lewis was dating someone when she decided now was the time to take the plunge and get her own place - but the 30-year-old never considered actually teaming up with him to buy a flat.

Melissa is open about being fairly ignorant to the process behind securing property as she went searching for a home just east of London.. "I remember looking at my savings and wondering whether that was enough money," she says. "My mum put me in touch with a mortgage broker and we went from there.

"I had around £18,000 saved at the time, which seemed enough, but I hadn't anticipated all the little costings that I had no idea about, as so much jargon was thrown my way.

"As I bought a flat, I had to pay for a management pack, whatever that even is. I also had to pay for the building managers. I just had no idea. I had to keep finding a couple hundred here and there. There was no simple step by step, simplified information."

Like Katie, Melissa acknowledges the privilege she had of being able to live at home to save money, having only lived away from home while at university.

"I was entirely committed to buying my own place," Melissa says. "I've always been a go-getter, so I cut out a lot of extra spending to make sure I had the money for my own home.

"Though when I was going through the motions of buying, I found it really tough to do it on my own, without being able to depend on other people.

"You are thrown so much jargon that you're left floored sometimes. There were times I was like, God, this is so hard, something should be done to make it easier. It'd be good to have some kind of women's group to advise us."

The side effects of the 'single-tax' have had an unintended side effect for business owner Melissa - the independence of getting a property on her own has made dating more problematic.

"I've had a huge mental shift," she says. "There's something about living by myself that makes me feel fearless. I'm yet to meet a guy that has his own place, they mostly live with their parents, and they find it unusual I'm on my own.

"Now I can't ever imagine living with another person. I find it weird having people in my personal space. It's empowering, but it's made having a relationship harder."

But despite saying her clothes "come from Primark" while her friends without houses "shop in Bicester Village", Melissa has no regrets about buying her own home - with the experience seeing her start her own business in property.

"It's a bold thing to buy a house on your own, but it just takes a bold woman," she says. "For single women out there wavering over whether to buy their own place, I'd say focus on the end goal.

"There's nothing more satisfying and confidence building than going through such a long, tedious process, but it's pleasurable when you're back from a long, hard day and it's your door that you've shut, not your landlord's. Go for it."

Georgia: There's not enough education about the house-buying process

Georgia always thought buying a property was out of reach (Credit: Georgia Farquharson)
Georgia always thought buying a property was out of reach (Credit: Georgia Farquharson)

Like a great deal of single women, Georgia thought her dream of buying her own property in Aylesbury was impossible.

"I felt I was so far away from being able to do it," the 27-year-old explains. "It's such a vicious cycle - most women have the impression that we just can't buy a house on our own, so we don't even bother to inquire.

"It wasn't until I set up a Help to Buy ISA and then I decided to seek some mortgage advice that I was told I wasn't too far off from buying.

Former journalist Georgia added that it was the process of setting up her own PR company, Farq Media, that made her realise just how clueless so many of us are about money matters.

"There's just so much of it I didn't understand, and so much we're not taught at schools," she says. "The process around buying a house is really inaccessible, and I really think more should be done in order to help women who may not understand."

Again, Georgia knows she was extremely privileged to be able to rely on her parents to seek advice about the process - but she also credits having a female mortgage broker for being approachable and patient.

"She was amazing and really, really supportive," she said. "I couldn't have been luckier.

"I do often feel I have to justify having the help of my parents to buy - but it would have taken me five years longer without them. Without having that help, the process is so much harder."

However, the men that Georgia faced when buying her two bedroom department were less forthcoming, and made the process much more stressful.

"They definitely didn't take me seriously as a woman on my own," she says. "I often felt stumped. I tried to educate myself, but the process can be incredibly overwhelming. I'm someone who's quite good at handling themselves, but I found myself crying all the time."

Now, Georgia finds herself going through the process again with her boyfriend as she looks for her own place, and already she can see the difference in buying with someone compared to buying on your own.

"I've found that there's the automatic assumption that he's putting more money in, and that people talk more directly to him," Georgia says, with a roll of her eyes. "But it's definitely much easier to have some kind of soundboard. Dealing with it on your own can be alienating.

"We also have a financial buffer if one of us was to go without work. I think that can be scary if you're on your own."

Georgia now wants women to have more faith for themselves if they're looking to buy.

"Don't just write yourself off and be like, I can never buy a house because I'm on my own and I don't have that great job. I think go to a professional and like genuinely ask their opinion.

"Believe that you can."

Featured Image Credit: Interviewees' Own

Topics: Shopping, Home, Home Decor, Money, Life

Kimberley Bond
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