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The Fair Housing Act was introduced over 50 years ago. While it legally guaranteed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQIA) home buyers could not be discriminated against throughout the homeownership process, current and potential LGBTQIA homeowners still face many challenges.
Decades after the anti-discriminatory legislation was introduced, Pride Month is celebrated each June to highlight both achievements and obstacles in the LGBTQIA community, like the Stonewall Inn riots of 1969 and same-sex marriage legalization in 2015. Unfortunately, stories and court cases related to housing discrimination against the LGBTQIA community are still not hard to find, illustrating how the fight against discrimination is far from over.
LGBTQIA homeownership statistics
Despite the long history of recognition of protected status from the Fair Housing Act, LGBTQIA homeownership rates have not stayed on pace with the growth of the community. The population and buying power among the LGBTQIA community has increased, but the homeownership rate is still far below the national average. Consider the following:
- Data from 1990 to 2015 found same-sex applicants were 73% more likely to be denied a loan vs. heterosexual couples. (National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals – NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- The LGBTQIA community represents $1 trillion of buying power in the U.S. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- 5% of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQIA. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- The LGBTQIA homeownership rate is 49%, nearly 20% lower than the national average of 65%. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- LGBTQIA buyers and sellers are more likely to be first-time home buyers. (National Association of Realtors – 2021 Profile of LGBTQ Home Buyers and Sellers – NAR 2021 Profile)
- The median age of LGBTQIA home buyers across the nation is 42. (NAR 2021 Profile)
- Only 11% of LGBTQIA community reports they prefer to rent vs. buy, highlighting the strong desire for homeownership. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- The top motivations for buying versus renting among LGBTQIA are:
- To stop paying rent to someone else
- Gain freedom to decorate
- Control, financial investment
- Provide greater stability for life and family. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- 57% of LGBTQIA homeowners have been in their primary residence for more than five years. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- Of the LGBTQIA community who want to own a home, 45% are Baby Boomers, 74% are Gen X and 79% are Millennials. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- 32% of LGBTQIA people live in the same general location as where they went to high school, versus the 72% of others who live in or close to the city they grow up in. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- When choosing a home, 94% of the LGBTQIA homebuyers value a safe area, with a lack of harassment and violence, which is virtually the same percentage as the 95% of homebuyers overall who also listed this as a reason for choosing a home. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- 46% of LGBTQIA fear discrimination in their future home buying process. (NAGLREP 2020-2021 report)
- The LGBTQIA community is less likely to have purchased a multigenerational home and more likely to have purchased a townhouse, row house, duplex or condo. (NAR 2021 Profile)
- The median household income among LGBTQIA is $93,200 and a purchased home price of $245,000, compared to a median income of $97,000 and a $268,000 purchased home price for a non-LGBTQIA home buyer. (NAR 2021 Profile)
Certain areas of the U.S. are considered more culturally diverse than others and more LGBTQIA friendly than other cities. These are cities where the neighborhoods often have more LGBTQIA residents and businesses that service their unique needs. Here are five cities that are widely considered more LGBTQIA-friendly.
- San Francisco is home to an impressive number of LGBTQIA milestones, including the first gay bar, the first Pride parade and the first same-sex marriage license. The rainbow flag, a highly-recognizable symbol of the LGTBQIA community and its allies, was also designed in San Francisco in 1978. (SFTravel.com)
- Castro and SoMa, two neighborhoods in San Francisco, were named the world’s best Gayborhoods by Gay Cities members in 2016. (SFTravel.com)
- San Francisco is home to Openhouse, which comprises two of 12 LGBTQ-affirming affordable residences for senior citizens throughout the United States. (Bay Area Reporter)
- San Francisco holds the top spot for Gayest Cities in America, according to a 2021 survey based on U.S. Census data. (LGBTQNation.com)
- New Orleans has a rich cultural history for the LGBTQIA community. The longest running gay event, the Fat Monday Luncheon, started in 1949, and the oldest gay social organization, the Steamboat Club, launched in 1953. (NewOrleans.com)
- In 1997, Louisiana was the first state in the Deep South to pass a hate crimes law that covered sexual orientation, and New Orleans Mayor Marc H. Morial extended domestic partner benefits to city employees. (NewOrleans.com)
- In 1998, New Orleans became one of the earliest cities to add gender identity to its list of groups protected from discrimination. (NewOrleans.com)
- New Orleans was ranked as one of the most LGBTQIA-friendly cities in the nation in 2018. (WDSU)
- Experts guess there are nearly 100,000 people in the Portland metro area who identify as LGBTQIA. Based on population percentage, that would make Portland’s LGBTQIA community one of the five largest in the U.S. (TravelPortland.com)
- Portland voters elected Sam Adams, the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city, in 2008. In 2011, he led the Portland City Council to unanimously make the health insurance policy for city employees transgender-inclusive. (TravelPortland.com)
- Q Center, the largest LGBTQIA community center in the Pacific Northwest, is located in Portland, where it provides information and resources for friends, family partners and community members of the LGBTQIA community. (PDXQCenter.org)
- The Stonewall Inn riots, which took place in June 1969 and kicked off the modern gay rights movement, occurred in Greenwich Village in New York City. (Hotels.com)
- New York City is home to more than 270,000 self-identifying gay and bisexual individuals, as well as over 50,000 transgender people (the largest in the country). (Hotels.com)
- New York City has a thriving nightlife scene and hotels geared towards the LGBTQIA community. (Hotels.com)
- NYC has lower homeownership rates overall, which are currently around 32% and a higher $635,200 average housing unit cost. The higher cost of living could pose a challenge for any potential homebuyer. (U.S. Census)
- Palm Springs is home to an all-LGBTQIA city council — the first in the U.S. Palm Springs is also a major travel destination where you will find plenty of LGBTQIA-friendly hotels and services. (Hotels.com)
- It is estimated that at least 50% of the population of Palm Springs identifies as LGBTQIA, more than any other city in the country. (Gay Palm Springs)
- The Lesbian community is an integral part of the Palm Springs culture in particular, with several annual events planned, like the Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend and White Party. (Hotels.com)
Resources for LGBTQIA households
No matter what city you choose to live in, it’s important to know what resources are available to LGBTQIA homeowners or those considering a purchase. Buying a home is a huge decision and investment and should not be made more challenging because of sexual orientation. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you navigate the process.
It may be difficult to pinpoint exact numbers of homeownership rates for LGBTQIA households and how many people experience discrimination throughout the process. What does this discrimination look like? Here are a few examples:
- A real estate agent refuses to represent you.
- A mortgage lender is not upfront or truthful about lending fees.
- You are denied a purchase because the seller has suddenly decided to take their home off-market.
- You are turned away from a rental property even though you know there are units available.
If you feel you have been discriminated against throughout the home buying or mortgage process, the National Board of Realtors suggests you file a complaint with both the local Board of Realtors and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office. You could also register a complaint with the Consumer Financial Bureau. Finally, consulting with an attorney may be necessary.
Home insurance and other resources
Whether you are moving to a new city or staying in your current residence for years, these resources can help you no matter where you go.
- Homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance is not legally required, but the right policy provides enormous financial protection for what is likely your largest investment. Be sure to regularly review your home insurance policy to ensure it is providing the highest level of protection within your budget.
- Gayborhood. This website highlights the gay-friendly establishments specific to your neighborhood or wherever you are traveling. It highlights specific categories ranging from pets to shopping to community resources.
- Updating your license. Some LGBTQIA community members may struggle to find information about the laws in their state if they need to update the gender on their driver’s license. Bankrate has compiled some helpful information that may make it easier to navigate the process.
While homeownership in the U.S. is currently around 65%, LGBTQIA homeowner rates are lower, at about 49%. The LGBTQIA community continues to face housing discrimination despite the prevalence of LGBTQIA-friendly cities and neighborhoods across the country.
According to the BNAGLREP 2020-2021 report and NAR 2021 Profile, LGBTQIA homeowners (or potential homeowners) are looking for the same qualities in a community as most other buyers, but still face enormous challenges. These current trends and statistics illustrate how there is still a long way to go in supporting the LGBTQIA community and their homeownership goals. Pride month may celebrate the accomplishments and major milestones within the community during the month of June, but progress in more housing options has major room for improvement throughout the year.