LGBTQ+ Homebuyers are getting priced out of areas with legal protections from discrimination
Safety and an accepting community are two of the most important considerations of gay homebuyers, according to a report last month by Freddie Mac and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, an organization of real estate professionals.
“LGBTQ+ folks want an equitable experience,” says Ryan Weyandt, CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. “You don’t [want] to walk out your door and go into a world that’s abrasive and wants to judge you.”
However, LGBTQ+ homebuyers can pay a premium to live in safe and non-judgmental communities. Homeownership in LGBT+ friendly communities can cost more than in other locations in the United States, according to LendingTree Chief Economist Jacob Channel.
Channel, a 27-year-old queer man, authored LendingTree’s first-ever same-sex couples homeownership report, published this month, using data from the United States Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.
Preliminary findings of the median value of homes in the top 10 states with the highest proportion of homeowning same-sex couples are $116,730 more expensive than in the top 10 states with the fewest number of same-sex coupled homeowners, according to the Charlotte, North Carolina-based online lending marketplace’s report.
The same states with high home prices are also more accepting of same-sex couples and have laws that protect LGBTQ+ people than queer couples who own homes in states where rights are practically nonexistent, and safety is a real risk.,
The top 10 states where same-sex couples occupy the most significant share of coupled households are Vermont, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Delaware, Oregon, California, Maine, Nevada, New York, and Washington. South Dakota, North Dakota, and Idaho top the list of the ten states with the least same-sex couple households.
Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Mexico have the highest shares of same-sex couples with 2.082%, 2.071%, and 2.064%, respectively. Meanwhile, South Dakota has the lowest percentage, with only 0.726% of households occupied by same-sex couples. North Dakota and Idaho are the second-lowest, with 0.774% each.
However, Channel said what the census data revealed didn’t surprise him. What struck him was “how little demographic data on this subject exists,” he said.
Channel continued pointing out several potential problems with the data. He noted there are very few numbers about same-sex couples in every single state, a lack of historical data and financial data, possibly “holes” in the data, and potentially under-reporting that could skew the information.
“While we don’t have perfect data right now, I do think that the study does highlight that there are real issues that folks in the LGBTQI+ community should be aware of,” he said, hoping that the data gathered by the census will improve in the future. “Hopefully, over time, we’ll be able to shed more light on those issues and resolve them.”
Although data used for the LendingTree report may have been limited, research from Worldwide ERC® member Zillow supports the overall findings of LendingTree’s preliminary data. Zillow analyzed the typical cost of buying a home in states, cities, and counties with laws in place to protect LGBTQ+ buyers from housing discrimination. These protections include safeguards against eviction from being denied housing and/or being refused the ability to rent or buy housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Typical home values in those jurisdictions with legal protections are about $127,000 higher than home values in places without those laws.
Weighing affordability versus discrimination, lack of rights, and safety versus biting the bullet to relocate to or stay in states where home ownership and the cost of living are high, but discrimination is low, legal protections are in place, and living openly is accepted.
Safety and being comfortable living authentically “is a very tangible, very real-world concern,” Channel said.
“I think that often, people in our community are willing to pay a little bit of a premium or maybe are even forced to pay a premium on things like housing because the alternative can be really bad and really dangerous,” he said.
Yet, Channel expressed concern about the challenges with that premium. Same-sex couples, for example, may experience discrimination in some states.
“It is one of those things where certainly having laws on the books can help reduce these kinds of things, but they’re not perfect. We do have data evidence to indicate that discrimination does exist.” Channel said.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued an executive order by President Biden, which came in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling that sex discrimination in the workplace prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should extend to and include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Aside from these federal rulings, there are also state and local laws that protect against discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals in the housing market.
Yet there is still room for improvement. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have explicit laws that protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity housing.