When could women get a mortgage?

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Women have come a long way in terms of financial independence and property ownership. However, there was a time when women faced significant challenges in obtaining mortgages. In this article, we will explore the historical context and the milestones that eventually led to women being able to secure mortgages.

Early Restrictions on Women’s Property Ownership

In the past, women faced numerous legal and societal barriers that limited their property ownership rights. These restrictions were often rooted in patriarchal norms and discriminatory practices. For example, in many countries, a married woman’s property automatically became her husband’s upon marriage, leaving her with little control or ownership rights.

The Married Women’s Property Act of 1882

One significant milestone in women’s property ownership rights was the Married Women’s Property Act of 1882 in the United Kingdom. This legislation allowed married women to own and control property in their own right, including the ability to obtain mortgages. Prior to this act, women were largely excluded from the mortgage market, as they were not considered legal entities separate from their husbands.

Women’s Suffrage and Increased Financial Independence

The fight for women’s suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries played a crucial role in expanding women’s rights, including their ability to access mortgages. As women gained the right to vote and became more politically and socially active, their financial independence also increased. This empowered women to enter the workforce, earn their own income, and seek financial opportunities such as homeownership.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974

Despite the progress made, women still faced discrimination in the mortgage industry. Lenders often required women to have a male co-signer or charged higher interest rates based on gender. In response to these discriminatory practices, the United States passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) in 1974. The ECOA prohibited lenders from discriminating against applicants based on gender, among other protected characteristics. This legislation was a significant step towards ensuring equal access to mortgages for women.

Modern-Day Access to Mortgages for Women

Today, women have the same legal rights and opportunities as men when it comes to obtaining mortgages. Lenders cannot discriminate based on gender or any other protected characteristic. Women have made significant strides in terms of financial independence, and many are now homeowners in their own right.


The journey towards women being able to obtain mortgages has been marked by legal reforms, social progress, and the fight for equal rights. From the Married Women’s Property Act of 1882 to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, women have overcome significant barriers to achieve financial independence and property ownership. Today, women have the same opportunities as men to secure mortgages and fulfill their homeownership dreams.


– National Archives. (n.d.). Married Women’s Property Act 1882. Retrieved from nationalarchives.gov.uk
– Federal Reserve. (n.d.). Equal Credit Opportunity Act. Retrieved from federalreserve.gov