Perceived and real threats of discrimination are preventing many members of the LGBTQ community from purchasing a home, according to a new study from the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. The 46-page report, completed in partnership with Freddie Mac, takes a comprehensive look at how discrimination throughout the lives of LGBTQ people, starting in high school up to aging adult, can influence their housing decisions. Survey respondents shared a range of experiences in facing discrimination, from the renting and homebuying process to the legal and mortgage forms they signed.
The LGBTQ community is estimated to hold the potential for $1 trillion in buying power in the housing market. But that spending power in real estate has yet to be fully unlocked, the report says. The homeownership rate for the LGBTQ population is 49.8%, which is far below the U.S. average of 65.8%, the report says.
Many in the real estate community are unaware that sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, the study says. Twenty-seven states do not offer any housing protections for the LGBTQ population, according to UCLA’s Williams Institute, a research center tracking sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.
The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance survey showed that 13.8% of respondents reported they signed legal forms—such as mortgage, purchase agreement, or title documents—that did not adequately represent their life experiences. Nearly 11% reported they experienced a real estate professional discriminating against them in the renting or homebuying process, and 5% said they experienced a landlord refusing to rent to them.
The fear of discrimination might impact where members of the LGBTQ population choose to live or limit their opportunities. For example, about 89% of LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance members say they find it at least somewhat important to live in an LGBTQ-friendly community.
“We hope the report provides those working in the real estate industry and beyond with a greater understanding of how discrimination is keeping so many in the LGBTQ+ community from reaching their full potential and ultimately becoming homeowners,” said John Thorpe, president of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance.
Segments within this population may be at even more risk of facing discrimination. For example, more than half—54%—of surveyed Alliance members reported feeling concerned about facing discrimination if they eventually need to live in a senior housing opportunity; about 72% of those between the ages of 55 to 64 share this concern. Also, one in five transgender adults say they’ve faced discrimination when seeking a home, and more than one in 10 report report having been evicted from their homes due to their gender identity, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. A study by the National Coalition for the Homeless also reports that 40% of homeless youth and 30% of clients utilizing housing programs identify as LGBTQ.
“Looking at the current housing market, it is evident that the community is underrepresented, regardless of more than 11 million LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S.,” the report says. “With that said, it is crucial that we build awareness of the adversities that LGBTQ+ adults experience throughout the home buying process and how the presence of sexual/gender discrimination at the start of one’s life to the end has a direct influence on the low number of LGBTQ+ homeowners today.”