Females drive housing demand and hammer away at renovations

    - Royal LePage survey finds 25% of women searching for a home are looking
    for a 'fixer-upper' and plan to do the work themselves -

    TORONTO, April 17 /CNW/ - With a chequebook firmly in one hand and a
hammer confidently in the other, single female homebuyers of all ages continue
to knock down barriers by purchasing real estate and tackling home repairs.
Currently, 30 per cent of single, never-before married women own their own
home, while 45 per cent of divorced or separated women and 64 per cent of
widowed women are homeowners, according to the Royal LePage Female Buyers
Report released today.
    Poll results found that of the single, never-before married women who are
not yet homeowners, 31 per cent say they will potentially purchase their next
home within three years. While more than half (56%) of women who own and rent
who intend to purchase in the next three years are shopping for a property in
the $150,000 to $350,000 price range, 10 per cent have slightly fatter pocket
books and are looking for a property priced from $350,000.
    "The notable upswing in real estate activity among females is not
surprising given that women are earning higher salaries than ever before,"
said Lisa da Rocha, vice president, marketing, Royal LePage Real Estate
Services. "There has been a shift in mindset whereby women have distanced
themselves from the traditional notion that you must first find Mr. Right and
then together you buy a home. Our findings reveal that 66 per cent of women
who intend to purchase would not find the process of buying a home on their
own intimidating."

    Preparing for Home Ownership

    Women are embracing the home buying process and taking charge. They are
readying themselves for bidding wars and willing to take on various types of
home renovations.
    Of the women polled who own or rent and intend to purchase a home in the
next three years, 56 per cent are willing to participate in bidding wars, in
comparison to only 49 per cent of men who are willing to compete.
    The frequency of bidding wars tends to vary across regions, and also
fluctuates among buyer demographics. For example, in Vancouver, female buyers
are used to the all too common bidding wars, according to qualitative
research. In Vancouver, the price of entry is usually attached to a bidding
war. If it is a property they want, women are not deterred from multiple offer
    When current female homeowners and renters who intend to purchase in the
next three years were asked, "When searching for your home, which type of home
would you be looking for?" 25 per cent said that they are looking for a
'fixer-upper' and plan to do the work themselves, while only nine per cent
will hire a contractor.
    While the rise in female homebuyers is prevalent in all the major
Canadian cities examined, some regional variances were noted. Based on
qualitative research, women in Toronto, Halifax and Regina are more prone to
take on home renovations than women in other cities. In Halifax and Regina,
younger female purchasers will flirt with more cosmetic home renovations, such
as painting and flooring, to enhance and update their properties. In contrast,
in Toronto, older more mature women consider larger renovations as a great way
to increase their home's equity.
    "Single women now play a significant role in the housing market. Eager to
experience the pride of ownership and exercise their independence, we are
seeing growing numbers of women buying their first home on their own,
trading-up homes as they progress professionally and taking on home
renovations," added da Rocha. "Today's woman is much more financially astute
than her counterpart a decade ago, and is well versed in real estate as a
solid long-term investment."

    Challenging Traditions

    More groomzilla than bridezilla? When it comes to signing on the dotted
line, it is a mortgage certificate, not a marriage certificate, that women
favour. When asked, "Given the chance, how likely would you be to go without a
wedding reception in order to put a larger down payment on your first home?"
34 per cent of women who will purchase their first home in the next three
years said they were very likely to go without a reception, in comparison to
27 per cent of men who gave the same answer. And it seems both men and women
have become less traditional with each passing year. A Royal LePage survey
commissioned in 2004 found that 30 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men
who were planning to buy their first home were very likely to forgo a wedding
reception in order to put a larger down payment on their home.

    Additional Poll Findings:

    -   Among those who own and rent and intend to purchase a home/condo in
        the next three years, men and women both rank equally (81%) taking
        out a mortgage from a bank, however, nine per cent of men said they
        would rely on their family to pay for their entire home, in
        comparison to only three per cent of women.

    -   Of women who own, who don't intend to purchase in the next three
        years, when asked, "Which one of the following motivations most
        influenced your decision to purchase your home?" the top three
        responses included: it makes more sense than renting (36%), want to
        put my money into a good investment (22%) and pride of ownership

    -   Among women who are intending to purchase in the next three years,
        when asked, "Which methods will you use to educate yourself about
        home purchasing?" the top three responses cited were speaking with a
        real estate agent (83%), speaking with friends and relatives (78%)
        and using real estate and financial websites (64%).

                             REGIONAL SUMMARIES

    Over the past five years, female buyers have started to represent a
significantly larger portion of home buying activity in Halifax's real estate
market - with a notable upswing in activity taking place over the last 18
months. Females are driving a large portion of condominium market activity, as
most young professionals favour the convenience and low maintenance lifestyle.
A small but growing portion of young female purchasers are buying homes
requiring renovation and maintenance. Mature, divorced or widowed women in
Halifax are often downsizing from a larger home, but are looking to maintain
the lifestyle their previous home afforded them. Areas such as Basinview and
Bedford, or suburban areas such as Dartmouth and lower Sackville are most
popular among single-parent females for their close proximity to excellent
schools, while Downtown Halifax is popular among single-female buyers looking
to be close to work and city amenities. Single women are typically looking for
properties priced at $200,000 and above.
    In Montreal, home buying activity among females has increased
significantly over the last three to four years. Activity growth has been
supported by the larger number of women in executive and professional careers,
which has afforded them the financial freedom to purchase a home on their own.
Women of all age groups tend to favour condominiums for their maintenance-free
lifestyle and generally spend an average of $300,000 on such properties. They
tend to place the style, design, and security of a property at a high priority
and are not interested in undertaking renovations. The centre of Montreal is a
popular neighbourhood for female purchasers who are looking to stay close to
the city centre, while Old Montreal offers heritage-style properties in a
desirable location.
    In Ottawa, home buying activity among females has increased steadily over
the last three to five years, with a noticeable upswing over the last year.
Most single women with job security and a solid income are making the leap
from renting to home ownership. To get a foothold in the market, it is common
for first-time female purchasers to receive financial support for a down
payment from their families. Some first-time female purchasers are
leapfrogging to the move-up home category, looking for properties priced
between $250,000 and $300,000. They tend to favour condominiums located in a
safe, centrally located neighbourhood. Seasoned, mature female buyers also
account for a significant portion of the purchasing activity among women,
typically spending more than their younger counterparts, often upwards of
    Women in Toronto purchasing real estate on their own is a burgeoning
trend that has grown exponentially over the past five years, and one that is
expected to continue. Driving this dynamic is a combination of factors
including the desire of professional women to live downtown and the
realization that real estate is a solid long-term investment. Typically,
first-time female buyers are financially conservative and gravitate to the
maintenance-free lifestyle of condominiums. Areas such as King West, Queen
West, St. Lawrence Market and the Yonge and Bloor area appeal to this
demographic. In contrast, a more mature buyer purchasing her second or third
home will likely opt for a freehold property. Younger buyers tend to buy
properties in the price range of $200,000 to $400,000, while the more mature
buyer typically spends upwards of $400,000.
    In the last five years, the number of female buyers entering Winnipeg's
housing market has risen dramatically - a trend noted among all types of
female purchasers including those who are single, divorced and widowed. In
Winnipeg, first-time female buyers are investment-driven and want to ensure
that their property will appreciate. Women in this category typically favour
bungalow-style homes in established, safe neighbourhoods, and tend to spend in
the price range of $100,000 to $150,000. Among more mature buyers
transitioning from one home to another, there is a growing trend to move into
condominiums. They will typically spend in the price range of $200,000 to
    Activity among female purchasers has increased significantly over the
last three years in Regina, with a notable upswing in activity over the last
year, corresponding with overall growth in the city's housing market.
Regardless of age, women tend to rank safety, space and style as the most
important features when searching for a home. Not surprisingly, a significant
portion of women in Regina favour the maintenance-free lifestyle of
condominiums and town homes that are within close proximity to the amenities
of the city centre and are priced between $100,000 and $160,000. More mature
buyers also opt for maintenance-free properties, such as luxury condominiums,
but are willing to spend more than their younger counterparts, at times up to
    Edmonton has experienced an increase in women buying real estate on their
own over the past five years and a steady rise is anticipated to continue.
Women are entering the housing market for several reasons and with different
needs: first-time homebuyers are typically 25 to 35 years old, well educated,
and are looking for a condominium or townhouse that offers security and a
maintenance-free lifestyle. Popular areas for this cohort include the District
of Oliver, Riverdale and Rossdale - attracting buyers in the price range of
$285,000 and up. Professional women looking to trade up or divorced women
entering the market have equity from their previous home. This group tends to
favour single-family dwellings in an established area such as Laurier Heights,
Stratchcona or Parkview, or conversely look to some of the brand new areas
such as Gloustenbury or MacEwan. Buyers aged 50-plus typically spend in the
range of $250,000 to $450,000.
    In Calgary, females, whether they are buying for the first time or
trading up, are playing an active role in the housing market. Recently, the
city experienced a surge in activity among young, single, female buyers, and
more moderate levels of activity among divorced or widowed women. The increase
in 25 to 35 year-old women purchasing homes on their own is reflective of a
healthy economy, low interest rates, higher incomes and a spike in
in-migration. In Calgary's urban core, condominiums are favoured by first-time
female homebuyers. Affordability, proximity to downtown amenities, and the
maintenance-free lifestyle are key factors. Condominiums in Mission, Cliff
Bungalow, Lower Mount Royal and Kensington priced between $330,000 and
$400,000 are the most popular. For first-time female buyers preferring to buy
a single-family home, McKenzie Towne is a favoured neighbourhood where a
detached property typically ranges from $350,000 to $450,000.
    While women have always played a significant role in Vancouver's housing
market, their impact in the past three to five years has become increasingly
more profound. Among first-time homebuyers condominiums in the $300,000 to
$400,000 range are typically the most desired; Kitsilano and downtown are two
of the more popular areas. Divorced women and move-up buyers in the city
typically gravitate to half-duplex townhouses and detached houses in the price
range of $700,000 to $1-million. In order to provide additional income, there
is a growing trend among mature single buyers to purchase properties with
rental units.

                     Typical Price Range of Female Buyers
                                First-Time Female      Mature Female Buyer's
                              Buyer's Price Range          Price Range
    Halifax                      $  200,000 +             $  200,000 +
    Montreal                     $  300,000               $  300,000
    Ottawa                 $  250,000 - $  300,000        $  350,000 +
    Toronto                $  200,000 - $  400,000        $  400,000 +
    Winnipeg               $  100,000 - $  150,000   $  200,000 - $  300,000
    Regina                 $  100,000 - $  160,000       up to $250,000
    Edmonton                     $  285,000 +        $  250,000 - $  450,000
    Calgary                $  330,000 - $  450,000   $  400,000 - $  450,000
    Vancouver              $  300,000 - $  400,000   $  700,000 - $1,000,000

    Source:   Qualitative Research, Royal LePage


    The report comprises a nationwide research poll of home buying attitudes
and actions of Canadian men and women (conducted by Maritz Research) as well
as a regional market analysis of trends and activities with respect to female
    Maritz Research conducted a telephone survey among a representative
random sample of 1,002 Canadian females and 1,000 males aged 18 years and
older. Within the female and male sample sizes, the results are considered
accurate to within +/-3.10%, 19 times out of 20 for both. Interviewing was
conducted between February 15 and February 20, 2007.

    About Royal LePage

    Royal LePage is Canada's leading provider of franchise services to
residential real estate brokerages, with a network of over 12,600 agents and
sales representatives in 600 locations across Canada operating under the Royal
LePage, Johnston & Daniel, and Realty World brand names. Royal LePage manages
the Royal LePage Franchise Services Fund, a TSX listed income trust, trading
under the symbol "RSF.UN."
    For more information visit www.royallepage.ca.

For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview with a
spokesperson, please contact: Tiffany Fisher or Kate Langan, Mansfield
Communications Inc., Office Phone: (416) 599-0024, E-mail: tiffany@mcipr.com
or kate@mcipr.com

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