With International Women’s day now upon us, it’s a good time to talk about the differences in how men and women invest in property.

It’s found that, not only do more women choose to go it alone as property investors than ever before, women, when investing with a spouse or partner,  tend to be predominant in making many of the decisions about property investing.  This includes decisions about when and what to buy, where to buy it, how to finance it and how much to pay for it.

Is this a good thing?  Well, yes and no, but one thing is certain -  knowing more about the characteristics which separate men from women as investors can go a long way toward ensuring that women investors become aware of where they may fall down, and address it.

When you buy your first, or next investment property, one of the most critical keys to investing success is the quality of the research you do before you even choose where to buy.  Too many investors, men and women alike, will invest according to the numbers (how much will it cost, or give me, after tax?), ignoring the fact that even a property with good numbers can be a dismal failure if it exists in the wrong area, and never grows in value.  And yet, when it comes to that research, men tend to buy what’s ‘hot’ without much more than some cursory research, while women can be in danger of missing what’s hot, as they become caught up in analysis paralysis. It can be enough for a male to hear or read about an area as being the next best thing, and they will be in, without too much validation. 

While they are onto their second and third property, many women are still plodding through the research, asking a million questions and validating the results to make sure they don’t make a mistake.  It’s been my experience, from examining my own client base, that males tend to find that, once they have a larger portfolio, this tendency to rush in results in a number of properties in the portfolio existing in areas that aren’t going so well.  Females, conversely, may build smaller portfolios as they spend too much time researching each buy, but the properties they do buy have a greater chance of existing in better areas for growth.

When it comes to choosing an actual property to buy after all the research has been done, men buy what they like the sound of (usually a bargain), while women buy what they like the look of (‘I would live there myself’).  Both of these methods have obvious advantages, but disadvantages too.  Properties that make great investments aren’t necessarily ones you would live in, since they often exist in areas that are hotspots in the making.  Many can be family, former state housing or lower socio- economic areas that are slowly changing and becoming more popular, and buying there can mean you can ride the wave as it trends up.  Properties that you get for a bargain price can often have some impediment which justifies that bargain price, and that impediment may interfere with future demand, and so the growth in value.  

There are other differences between men and women and how they invest. Men are ‘competitive and measured’, while women can be ‘reluctant and unprepared’. This can result in males adding to their portfolio more frequently, but with poor choices, just so that the number of properties they hold is large and looks good on paper, while women can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed at the prospect of building that large a portfolio on their own.

Men have a higher opinion of their ability to invest, but more chance of bad choice as a result of this confidence. Men enjoy the process of buying property, as it provides the excitement of choosing, negotiating and winning, while women enjoy the satisfaction which comes from the end result – adding a property that they know they have spent a long time choosing, even if they didn’t enjoy the process along the way quite as much.

And finally, men like to do it alone, while women are often much happier when they can do it with others.  This is a reflection of the differences between men and women in many areas, including being in business.  It’s often found that in business, men guard their professional secrets as they compete against others in the same field, while women tend to share their ideas more generously, and rarely feel threatened by the competition posed by their peers.  Equally, women like to have someone to buy with and if it cannot be a spouse or partner, will happily seek out friends or other relatives to share an investment property.  This difference can carry a real danger, as buying horizons, financial goals and investment preferences can often be very different between parties, setting up a situation for potential future discord and, worse, a complete falling out.

There’s no evidence that one sex has better overall outcomes than another, but it is useful to be aware of these differences, so that next time you’re ready to buy a property as an investment, you can address what might otherwise be a drawback to your success.