Increasing Confidence in LGBTQ Real Estate and LGBTQ Homeownership
Opinion by Jeff Berger, Founder LGBTQrealestatepros.com
The Nov. 29 vote by the U.S. Senate to pass the Respect for Marriage Act that codifies the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges was widely hailed as a victory for the supporters of same-sex marriage. And having 12 Republicans join to get the 61-36 – 60 votes were needed for Senate passage – offered a rare portrait of bipartisanship as this Senate session draws to a close. It now heads back to the House where it is expected to be passed quickly and sent to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
While it is satisfying to know that this legislation will prevent the Supreme Court from potentially reversing the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling in the same way that Roe v. Wade was overturned this past summer, it is a shame that the belated spirit of bipartisanship is not being extended to the Equality Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February 2021 by 224-206, with three Republicans joining to give it a (barely) bipartisan boost of support. But the Senate never took up the legislation after it passed through the House, and unless there is a last-minute bipartisan change of heart the Equality Act will expire when the current congressional term ends in early January.
The Equality Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, federally funded programs and credit. This would expand on the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which does not include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. If passed it would greatly boost confidence for LGBTQ real estate and LGBTQ homeownership.
A recent survey published by the National Endowment for Financial Education found 16% of respondents who identified as LGBTQ said they experienced housing discrimination, 15% experienced bias in accessing credit and 12% faced bias in the lending process.
Besides the specter of possible bias, for many LGBTQ homebuyers there is also the stress of moving into an unfamiliar area – a survey by LGBTQRealEstatePros.com determined that only 32% of LGBTQ people live in the same general location (i.e., city, county, metro area) as where they went to high school – in comparison, the national average is 72%.
For this demographic, moving into an unfamiliar area comes with distinctive considerations. The survey also found that 94% of LGBTQ renters and 95% of LGBTQ homeowners reported that feeling safe from harassment and violence) was the most important factor when it came to selecting a community to live in. And just under 50% of LGBTQ renters who were eager to become property owners feared they would encounter discrimination in the homebuying process.
Still, the LGBTQ community represents a demographic with great potential for the housing markets. Although the national homeownership rate is 66%, the LGBTQ homeownership rate is 49% – and nearly three-quarters of LGBTQ renters surveyed by LGBTQRealEstatePros.com said they wanted to become homeowners.
For today’s LGBTQ homebuyer, having a real estate broker who is cognizant of the specific needs of this demographic is crucial. These brokers would also be aware of trusted stakeholders in the homebuying process – appraisers, lending officers, attorneys, insurance brokers, etc. – who would treat the buyers with the respect they deserve and would diffuse any fear that the homebuying process would be tinged with the potential for bias.
Encouraging an increase in LGBTQ homeownership comes at a crucial time, with home sales in decline amid challenging market conditions. Real estate brokers who make an active effort to market themselves to the LGBTQ community – either through advertising in LGBTQ-focused online platforms or participating in trade groups like LGBTQrealestatepros.com which welcome both gay realtors, lesbian realtors, and LGTBQ realtors, and allied realtors as members – will send the message that they are serious about helping LGBTQ home buyers and sellers achieve the American Dream of homeownership while working to ensure a stronger and more stable housing market.
Jeff Berger is founder and CEO of LGBTQrealestatepros.com a LGBTQ real estate trade organization.