Up until now, little information has been available about the LGBT community’s preferences, aspirations and mindset surrounding the home buying process and homeownership in general. With the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality pending and on the brink of LGBT pride month, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) have released findings from the first-ever LGBT Home Buyer and Seller Survey of more than 1,700 respondents that show a majority believe homeownership to be a good investment, but possess strong concern when it comes to housing discrimination.
“This groundbreaking study sheds new light on the aspirations and concerns of this important consumer segment and opens the door for more thoughtful discussion throughout the real estate industry as to how we can best serve and help these consumers achieve the dream of homeownership,” said Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC. “As a supporter of NAGLREP and its mission since its inception, we are committed to educating the industry and will continue to unveil new data and share our brand’s best service practices that will help make the path to homeownership a positive experience for current and future generations.”
Nearly nine out of ten LGBT homeowners surveyed, and three out of four LGBT non-homeowners, think homeownership is a good investment. This rings true across all age groups, including Millennials. So will the upcoming Supreme Court ruling impact these numbers? According to the data, 81 percent of LGBT survey participants feel a ruling for marriage equality will make them feel more financially protected and confident – key milestones along the path to homeownership.
“Individuals who identify themselves as LGBT represent an estimated buying power of $840 billion and reportedly live in 99.3 percent of all counties nationwide,” said Jeff Berger, founder, NAGLREP. “The LGBT community is a key part of the nation’s landscape and a powerful market segment that is increasingly achieving social milestones that are historical triggers to home purchases, such as partnerships, marriage and having children.”
In all, 54 percent of all LGBT respondents currently own some type of real estate. This is proportionately equal between gay/bisexual men and lesbian/bisexual women. For current LGBT homeowners, the top motivation for purchasing a new home is living in a better city or neighborhood (76 percent), having a bigger home (57 percent) and getting married (56 percent). For LGBT non-homeowners, achieving personal finance goals are most important to becoming first-time buyers, specifically saving for a down payment (86 percent), maintaining a stable job (84 percent) and qualifying for a mortgage (83 percent).
The exceedingly top neighborhood priority for LGBT respondents is safety (88 percent). Furthermore, when asked about the importance of different aspects of their ideal neighborhood and community, respondents are most concerned about living in a neighborhood with low crime (80 percent very important), living in a state with an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance (75 percent very important) and living in a progressive community (70 percent very important).
Among respondents, 73 percent stated strong concern about some aspect of housing discrimination, either in purchasing a home or renting. The concerns include discrimination by real estate agents, home sellers, landlords, mortgage lenders, property management companies and neighbors. Concern rates were highest among transgender respondents.
“The high ratio of LGBTs concerned about some aspect of housing discrimination is alarming and demonstrates the importance of our organization’s continued legislative and advocacy work on behalf of the consumer,” said Berger. “We offer a public online database to provide resources to help consumers identify LGBT-friendly real estate professionals in their city to help alleviate this concern and provide them with a great customer experience.”
The Millennial Factor
For a generation that many have deemed “Generation Rent,” an overwhelming 82 percent of LGBT Millennials surveyed are concerned about rising rents, and 59 percent say they plan to have children in the future, both of which are potential motivators for purchasing a home.
“While a vast majority of LGBT Millennials believe homeownership is a good investment, interestingly enough, about half those who currently do not own a home stated they are not knowledgeable about homeownership,” added Chris. “This presents a great opportunity for us as an industry to be proactive in reaching out to younger generations to educate them about the homeownership process and its benefits.”
LGBT respondents looking to purchase a home in the next three years are most concerned about selecting a real estate professional that has an excellent reputation (93 percent) and is LGBT-friendly (86 percent). Only 13 percent thinks it is very important that their sales associate identifies as LGBT. Also of note is that being LGBT-friendly is more important than a real estate professional’s years of experience (78 percent).
The vast majority of LGBT respondents considering purchasing a home would look for a real estate professional with the highest reviews on service and responsiveness (95 percent) over those with the highest number of home sales (5 percent).
Although lesbian women are more likely to have children than gay men, nearly 60 percent of all LGBT Millennials plan to have children in the future. Therefore, quality of school districts and lifestyle considerations such as proximity to parks may likely become increasingly important as this group continues to enter the real estate market.
Design in Mind
For LGBT respondents looking to purchase a home, outdoor living space (48 percent a strong priority) and an open concept living area (44 percent a strong priority) reign supreme.