Marie-Pier Ouellet fell under the spell of a condo. So she made an offer and is excitedly waiting to hear back from the bank. A young single urban professional, Marie-Pier is part of significant demographic in the realm of co-ownership, that of single women in search of condos.
A study conducted by the APCHQ, a provincial buider's association, published on the 20th of last September reveals that of the 1,005 people who bought a new dwelling in Quebec in 2012, 62% were women and more than 35% of these were without a partner.
Ronald Panneton, Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Alta Socam, confirms this trend. “We have noticed a significant increase in the number of single persons buying condos” he said. According to Claudie Dubreuil, President of Les Collections Dubreuil, 43% of last year's buyers were single women.
The increase in single women's participation in the housing market can be explained in several ways, the first being the fact that many professional women are putting off family life and have the means to acquire a personal living space.
What's more, the condominium, the real estate market's new star product, is the type of dwelling that meets the needs of single people wanting to become homeowners. Take Ms. Ouellet, who chose to “start small” with a one bedroom condo that she'll be able to resell if she starts a family.
Other factors also come into play: “As a single woman, I didn't want to be responsible for the upkeep of a house” she says. According to Mr. Panneton, the amount of work a house requires greatly influences the decision-making process. “A single woman will be less likely to want to commit to the maintenance of a house, of snow removal and everything else.”
“Co-ownership gives her the freedom to simply lock the door and go—on vacation, on business, etc,” he added.
What women are looking for
“Safety is an important element for women,” Mr. Panneton says. “Other factors they assess are the presence of neighbours, the entrance hall of the building, the garage, and the security cameras.” Peace of mind can be strongly rooted in one's location. According to Ms. Dubreuil, women want to know who lives in the area, and if the area will allow easy access to services and amenities.
Functional and practical spaces with ample storage tend to attract a feminine clientele. Customizable interiors are also a huge draw. According to Ms. Dubreuil “women are very attracted to interior decor. They are very fashionable, know all the new materials, and show up with photos in hand of what they want.”
Buying a condo based on floorplans allows Ms. Ouellet to choose her finishes and to upgrade the quality of the materials. “I'm going to be able to give it a personal touch” she says. “I love ultra-modern spaces.” The kitchen especially is arranged to accomodate an island, good cupboards, and all the essential elements in practical places. “I like the room this way!” she says.
A thought-out choice
Ms. Ouellet's thought long and hard before choosing a condo. She spent many months doing rigorous internet searches, faithfully reading updates from GuideHabitation.ca on new housing projects, visiting model units and establishing a firm budget. Eventual resale also factored into her buying criteria: “I made an important investment and so I made sure to really calculate everything.”
In general, women seem to do more research and to stick to their budget more than men. “They take longer to decide as they carefully weigh the pros and cons.” Mr. Panneton says.
To the joy of real-estate developers, this of-the-minute, knowledgeable and financally stable demographic is increasingly choosing to live in condos.