Navigating the housing market is an emotional roller coaster for every potential homebuyer. It only gets even tougher when the COVID-19 pandemic has further fueled the housing competition. Meanwhile, home sellers turn to short sales to sell their homes faster and get full payments in just a few days.
But when it comes to members of the LGBTQ community, the challenge is even greater. Many have suffered from fear and anxiety at every stage of the home-buying process. This often stems from misunderstandings and discrimination they usually face in most real estate transactions.
Given the harsh realities faced by LGBTQ home sellers and buyers, we’re going to take a look at the hidden realities faced by LGBTQ members in the housing market and the reasons most of them are less likely to own properties.
Gender discrimination in the housing market
In a recent report published by the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), fear of discrimination by sellers, agents, and new neighbors have been keeping LGTBQ members from entering the housing market. Although 72% of LGBTQ renters plan to become homeowners, the remaining 46% fear discrimination at the hands of the real estate community.
The current LGBTQ homeownership rate is at 49%, a 16% difference from the national homeownership rate, which is at 65%. According to NAGLREP, LGBTQ homeownership can potentially increase if there’s no existing discrimination towards LGBTQ renters. In fact, the group has taken the initiative by presenting The Equality Act, a bill that will make discrimination related to sexual orientation illegal. If the U.S. Congress passes the bill, the group believes that the LGBTQ homeownership rates will increase.
The U.S. government has signed orders that will combat problems concerning discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation at the federal level. This can be anything from charging high mortgage fees to same-sex couples or rejecting a transgender tenant to rent an apartment or buy a property.
While there’s the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the federal law doesn’t cover the protection of the LGBTQ community against housing discrimination. In fact, a person with an overlapping identity can suffer from discrimination in various ways. Some have experienced housing discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, gender identity.
While federal protections are a significant step, city and individual state laws are also important. It’s faster and cheaper to file a fair housing complaint at a state court. The local law may also offer more coverage than the federal level.
Although federal agencies are taking initiatives to update their policies and regulations, changes won’t happen overnight. But these developments can still go a long way to create a fairer environment for all LGBTQ members.
Finding LGBTQ-friendly communities
Finding a property in a neighborhood where LGBTQ individuals feel more welcomed and safe is another concern. Unfortunately, most of the welcoming communities are in big, expensive cities.
Obviously, LGBTQ members prefer to live within a gay-friendly neighborhood, where they will feel more comfortable and happy, including same-sex couples who want to build their own families.
In reality, living in welcoming communities is more expensive. It’s also important to note that transgender communities face workplace discrimination, limiting their potential to earn more. Transgender individuals are more likely to have household incomes under the poverty level, averaging $10,000 each year.
Meanwhile, transgender people of color find it challenging to receive financial support from their loved ones, especially if their families are not supportive. This makes it even more difficult for transgender buyers to submit their down payment to secure the property they wanted.
Reasons LGBTQ members are less likely to buy houses
In a recent study by the Williams Institute, transgender individuals have the lowest homeownership rate. Despite issues in gender discrimination, LGBTQ members prefer to live in cities and urban environments.
Amid preference to urban neighborhoods, many transgender individuals have left the city for a life in the suburbs. This trend has been increasing during the pandemic, where same-sex couples prefer to live in suburban homes and have children of their own.
But the idea of owning a house comes with a myriad of challenges, including discrimination. This is why most LGBTQ members choose to sign legal forms such as title paperwork, purchase agreements, and mortgages without revealing their personal life, in fear of facing discrimination.
While we have seen significant developments in tackling discrimination against the LGBTQ community, transgender individuals are still at risk. But despite these negative realities, transgender homebuyers shouldn’t give up and surrender themselves to lifetime renting. As we wait for the situation to improve, LGBTQ members should find lenders and real estate agents they can trust.