House hunting is an emotional roller coaster for any prospective buyer. But members of the LGBTQ community also have to contend with the fear of anxiety at every turn in the home-buying process.
Nearly a third of LGBTQ individuals, 29%, reported they had experienced discrimination, or suspected they were victims of it, according to a Realtor.com® survey of 1,538 U.S. members of the LGBTQ community. Members of the transgender community were particularly hard-hit: 44% said they had experienced or suspected discrimination.
At a time when rising home prices have limited choices for home buyers across the nation, these additional concerns place more hurdles in the way of LGBTQ folk seeking to become homeowners. These hurdles can limit their choices of where to live and further hinder their ability to achieve financial stability through homeownership.
“Discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in housing is real, but we know the fear of discrimination is even greater,” said Ryan Weyandt, CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, in a statement. The alliance partnered with Realtor.com on the survey, which was carried out by Community Marketing & Insights from May 14 to 21. “Our community already must place an outsized emphasis on identifying safe and accepting communities. … I don’t believe we are going to see the number of LGBTQ+ homeowners rise without eliminating housing discrimination against us.”
One of the first executive orders President Joe Biden signed in January was intended to combat these problems by banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity at the federal level. This could be anything from a landlord refusing to rent an apartment to a transgender tenant or lender charging higher mortgage fees to a same-sex couple.
“People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination,” Biden wrote in the order. “All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Still, Weyandt points out that the 1968 Fair Housing Act still does not protect the LGBTQ community against housing discrimination.
In addition, overlapping identities mean that one person may be discriminated against in different ways. About 68% of the survey respondents who had experienced housing discrimination revealed it was because of their sexual orientation, while 33% attributed it to their race or ethnicity and 25% said it was because of their gender or gender identity. Some respondents reported that they had experienced multiple forms of discrimination.
As a result, finding a neighborhood to live in that is accepting and welcoming is a high priority for members of the LGBTQ community. About half (49%) of the survey respondents live in a large to medium city, while 25% live in the suburbs and only 13% are in small towns or rural areas.
The top reasons for not wanting to leave the cities were a lack of culture and entertainment; a lack of racial and ethnic diversity; and a preference to be in a community with significant numbers of other LGBTQ people, according to the survey. Bigger cities often offer more bars and events for the community and often have more local, legal protections in place.
However, at a time when home prices are high and rising, LGBTQ home buyers, like any others, have concerns about affordability—and small towns typically offer more for the money.
LGBTQ shoppers tend to purchase older, smaller, and less expensive homes than non-LGBTQ buyers, according to recent research by the National Association of Realtors®. This finding, in NAR’s 2021 Profile of LGBTQ Home Buyers and Sellers, is drawn from a survey of 41,950 home buyers and sellers between 2015 and 2020, of which 1,574 individuals identified themselves as members of the LGBTQ community.
Over the past five years, homes bought by LGBTQ members were 170 square feet smaller and 15 years older, typically, than those purchased by non-LGBTQ buyers, the report found. The median sale price for LGBTQ buyers’ homes was $245,000, compared with $268,000 for non-LGBTQ buyers.
That may be because gay men often earn less than straight men, according to research from UCLA’s Williams Institute. Lesbians typically earn more money than straight women, but less than gay or straight men.
“This report details the impact of the housing affordability challenges on LGBTQ buyers, who typically had lower household incomes and were more likely to be purchasing more affordable homes,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights, in a statement.
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