Members of the LGBTQ community are less likely to be homeowners; neighbors are key to feeling accepted
Realtor.com® today announced it is collaborating with the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance in an effort to help identify challenges and initiate positive change in the housing industry. The organizations also unveiled the findings of a new survey which reveals that LGBTQ discrimination in real estate remains a problem, members of the LGBTQ community are less likely to be homeowners, and neighbors who are accepting are key to feeling welcome in a new place.
“Home means something different to everyone — family, love, security, belonging — and Realtor.com® believes that no matter the circumstance, every person deserves the opportunity to create a home that reflects who they are and what is most important to them,” said Mickey Neuberger, CMO for Realtor.com®. “The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is an essential voice in the discussion of fair housing and we are excited to work with them on these very important issues. We’re proud to stand with our LGBTQ+ community and are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in housing.”
The report is based on an online survey of 1,538 LGBTQ community members living in the U.S conducted by Community Marketing & Insights, a 100% LGBTQ-owned and -operated research firm, from May 14-21, 2021.
Discrimination in real estate remains a problem
Executive Order 13988, enacted in Jan. 2021, aimed to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. And while it was a significant step forward, housing discrimination in the LGBTQ community continues to be an issue. When survey respondents were asked if they have ever been discriminated against when applying for a rental lease or buying a home, almost 2 in 10 (17%) confirmed they had been discriminated against, 12% weren’t sure but suspected discrimination and 71% had not experienced this. Discrimination was even more pronounced in the transgender community, with 44% having experienced or suspected discrimination. Fifty-two percent of respondents said this discrimination took place in the last 5 years.
Of those who had experienced discrimination, 68% revealed it was because of their sexual orientation, 33% attributed it to their race or ethnicity and 25% said it was because of their gender or gender identity. Some respondents reported that they had experienced multiple forms of discrimination.
“Discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community in housing is real, but we know the fear of discrimination is even greater,” said Ryan Weyandt, CEO of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. “Our community already must place an outsized emphasis in identifying safe and accepting communities. Discrimination and the fear of it is another burden. I don’t believe we are going to see the number of LGBTQ+ homeowners rise without eliminating housing discrimination against us. It is an unnecessary barrier that should be illegal as it is for other diverse groups.”
Weyandt pointed out that the Fair Housing Act, which was passed in 1968, still not does protect Americans from discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity.
LGBTQ people less likely to be homeowners
According to the survey, 49% of respondents own their primary residence, compared to about 66% of the general population. This number was even lower among transgender (35%), Black (29%) and Latinx (41%) community members. While there are many factors that contribute to this homeownership rate, economic and other forms of discrimination can discourage homeownership. This type of discrimination is especially prevalent among transgender and non-binary community members.
City life remains popular among the community
Survey results show that about half (49%) of the LGBTQ community currently lives in a big or medium-sized city. Twenty seven percent of respondents live in big cities, 22% in medium-sized cities, 13% in small cities, 25% in the suburbs, and 13% in small towns and rural areas. The study also found some differences by gender: Gay and bi+ men are more likely to live in big cities than lesbian and bi+ women, who live more evenly divided across community types. Transgender and non-binary community members are the least likely to be in big cities, making non-discrimination legal protections at the state and national level even more important. Seventy percent of survey takers said their city or town is “somewhat” to “very LGBTQ-friendly.” However, it’s important to note there is likely to be self-selection of inclusive areas.
When asked what type of environments respondents would consider moving to in the next 10 years, city life remained popular with medium-sized cities (50%) being favored over big cities (40%). Some in the community were also interested in the suburbs (32%), small towns (26%), and rural areas (17%). The responses were in line with the established pattern of younger people being more interested in cities and older people interested in less crowded environments. Realtor.com® recently identified ten affordable LGBTQ-friendly cities.
“Members of the LGBTQ community often seek out places where they feel safe as well as welcome,” said Realtor.com®‘s Deputy News Editor, Clare Trapasso. “These tend to be places with visible and supported LGBTQ communities, LGBTQ protections in place and where they believe they are less likely to be discriminated against.”
Lack of diversity holds LGBTQ members back from less urban areas
When respondents living in cities were asked if there was anything holding them back, the No. 1 response was a lack of culture and entertainment in these less urban areas. The No. 2 reason was that these areas are not racially and ethnically diverse and accepting and No. 3 was a preference to be in communities with larger numbers or visible LGBTQ community members.
On the flip side, when all survey respondents were asked what is most appealing about these areas, lower cost of living rose to the top as the best attribute. It was followed by outdoor space and larger yards, and then “better overall quality of life.”
Acceptance is key when choosing a home and neighbors have the most influence
Regardless of location, acceptance is a key factor for respondents when it comes to deciding where to buy a home. When asked whether they would purchase a home if they had doubts about whether they would be accepted, the majority (55%) said no, 32% said they were unsure, and only 12% said yes.
So, what would make a LGBTQ member feel welcome? No. 1 response: the people in the neighborhood. Seventy-six percent of respondents said neighbors who seem friendly, open, and accepting of LGBTQ neighbors would help make them feel welcome. The No. 2 attribute was a neighborhood or town that is racially and ethnically diverse, and No. 3 was local anti-discrimination laws that specifically include sexual orientation and/or gender identity as protected groups.
Do you feel that you have ever been discriminated against when applying for a rental lease or buying a home?
What type of discrimination did you experience when applying for a rental lease or buying a home (of those who experienced discrimination)?
Because of my sexual orientation
Because of my gender or gender identity
Because of my race or ethnicity
Because of my age
Because of a disability
Other form of discrimination
How long ago was the most recent time you experienced discrimination when applying for a rental lease or buying a home?
Less than 1 year ago
1 to less than 3 years ago
3 to less than 5 years ago
5 to less than 10 years ago
10 to less than 20 years ago
20 years or more ago
What type of environment best describes the primary place in which you live now?
Urban / Big city
Urban / Medium-sized city
Small town surrounded by countryside
How LGBTQ-friendly do you consider the city or town in which you currently live?
What type of environments would you be interested in moving to in the next 10 years?
Urban / Big city
Urban / Medium-sized city
Small town surrounded by countryside
Do any of the following hold you back from moving or living in the suburbs, small towns or rural areas?
I don’t feel safe living in less urban areas
I worry that [my family and] I won’t be accepted in less urban areas
I prefer to be in communities with larger numbers or visible LGBTQ community members
I like participating in LGBTQ events and they are not available in less urban areas
I feel these areas are not racially and ethnically diverse and accepting
I would not want to live in areas without LGBTQ legal protections
Lack of public transit
Lack of culture and entertainment in less urban areas
Fewer employment opportunities / jobs
I prefer to walk to restaurants and shops
Regardless of where you live now, what qualities might encourage you to move to (or continue to live in) the suburbs, smaller towns or rural areas?
Better for people that are married or in long-term relationships
Better to raise children
Better schools for my children
Outdoor space at home / larger yards
Fewer people than live in urban areas
Closer to parks and outdoor recreation
Able to work remotely
Lower cost of living
Better overall quality of life
To be closer to family
Having open land / acreage surrounding my house
None of the above
When searching for a new neighborhood or place to live, which of the following LGBTQ elements would be important to you or would make you feel welcome?
Easy access to LGBTQ groups, meet-ups and social functions
Known as the “LGBTQ neighborhood” within a city or town
Known as an “LGBTQ-friendly” city or town
LGBTQ resident issues and concerns are part of the local government’s website
LGBTQ people are visible in the neighborhood, even if not in large numbers
The politics of the people in the town or neighborhood are similar to my beliefs
Pride celebrations or other LGBTQ events available to attend
Neighbors who seem friendly, open, and accepting of new LGBTQ neighbors
You see rainbow flags or other LGBTQ-supportive symbols on houses or in stores
Neighborhood or town that is racially and ethnically diverse
A place that is close to LGBTQ nightlife
A place that has an LGBTQ Community Center or other LGBTQ-specific social service agencies
Local anti-discrimination laws that specifically include sexual orientation and/or gender identity as protected groups
Methodology: In May of 2021, Realtor.com® worked with Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) to conduct a national quantitative research study among the LGBTQ community. The 10-minute online survey was conducted May 14-21, 2021. The panel used for the research was a random sample of CMI’s proprietary research panel of 50,000 LGBTQ community members in the United States. The panel was developed over a 20-year period through continuing partnerships with more than 300 LGBTQ publications, websites, blogs, social media, apps, influencers, events, and organizations. A total of 1,538 LGBTQ community members living in the United States participated in the research. The report represents responses from 618 cisgender gay/bi+ men, 618 cisgender lesbian/bi+ women and an oversample of 302 transgender and non-binary participants. Participants were aged 18 to 74. Participation was from all 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. See participant profile for more information.
Realtor.com® makes buying, selling, renting and living in homes easier and more rewarding for everyone. Realtor.com® pioneered the world of digital real estate more than 20 years ago, and today through its website and mobile apps is a trusted source for the information, tools and professional expertise that help people move confidently through every step of their home journey. Using proprietary data science and machine learning technology, Realtor.com® pairs buyers and sellers with local agents in their market, helping take the guesswork out of buying and selling a home. For professionals, Realtor.com® is a trusted provider of consumer connections and branding solutions that help them succeed in today’s on-demand world. Realtor.com® is operated by News Corp [Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA] [ASX: NWS, NWSLV] subsidiary Move, Inc. under a perpetual license from the National Association of REALTORS®. For more information, visit Realtor.com®.
About LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance
The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is a 501(c)6 non-profit dedicated to empowering the LGBTQ+ community on the path to homeownership as we also advocate on behalf of the community on housing issues. The Alliance, founded in June 2020, is an all-inclusive organization that works to improve the professional lives of its members through a public-facing Alliance Referral Community. The Alliance began accepting members in October 2020 and has more than 50 chapters in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information visit realestatealliance.org.