Kim Shindle

Last Updated: April 2, 2019 | View all posts by Kim Shindle

Since same-sex marriage was legalized three years ago, the numbers of LGBT couples who own their own home has increased to 73 percent, according to a recent study by Freddie Mac. And members of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals – 55 percent of those surveyed – believe more LGBT couples are buying homes since the Supreme Court decision.

However, NAGLREP’s 2019 LGBT Real Estate Report shows that fear of discrimination has a direct impact on the behavior of potential LGBT buyers throughout the homebuying process. Twenty percent of those surveyed feared they would not be approved for a mortgage, 13 percent fear not getting the lowest available mortgage rates and 22 percent fear their offer won’t be accepted. Greater still, more than 40 percent are concerned about how welcoming their new community and neighbors may be.

“Fear is slowing the LGBT community in the process of turning from renter to buyer,” said Jeff Berger, president and CEO of NAGLREP. “Non-LGBTs are looking at low inventory and affordability when deciding to buy a home, while LGBT consumers also have other fears contributing to why they aren’t buying a home.”

This year, NAGLREP’s survey researched different statistics in the LGBT market, which is growing. According to the Pew Research Center, 10.1 million Americans (4.1 percent) identify as LGBT, up from 8.3 million in 2012, with $917 billion in buying power. And GLAAD found that 20 percent of those 18-34 identify as LGBT, compared to 12 percent of Gen X and 7 percent of boomers.

“We’re trying to dig deeper, provide more insight and be more analytical,” Berger said. “The real estate industry craves that kind of information. This year, we partnered with Freddie Mac for the survey, showcasing the credibility of our organization and our data.”

For example, the survey showed that LGBTs are a mobile group. Only 32 percent of those surveyed live in the same general location as where they grew up. And 35 percent of LGBT homeowners live in the suburbs, 28 percent in a big or medium city and 37 percent in a small community.

NAGLREP members surveyed believe if the Equality Act passed, LGBT homeownership rates would rise 5 percent. The Equality Act, reintroduced March 13, would amend the federal Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit and the jury system.

“Passing the Equality Act would start a change in the population in general, toward treating LGBT people fairly and the LGBT community would be empowered and feel they couldn’t be discriminated against,” Berger said. “Fears among LGBT are higher in states where fair housing laws don’t protect them – of which Pennsylvania is one of them.”

“We’re thankful that the National Association of Realtors® and President John Smaby are supporting this bill,” he added.

“We very excited to bring this information to Capitol Hill to show the need to recognize the LGBT community as a protected class,” Berger said. “Our goal is to educate the real estate community and legislators so that many professionals can see the need for change in the Fair Housing Laws.”