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Study: LGBT homeownership rates lag; discrimination fears play a role

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MCLEAN, Va — New research Freddie Mac released Monday finds that members of the LGBT community are less likely to own a home, are more mobile, fear discrimination when buying property, and prioritize living in LGBT-safe neighborhoods.

Specifically, the survey of LGBT community members living in the United States suggests that 49 percent of LGBT households are likely to own a home — considerably lower than the current national rate (64.3 percent). The survey explored the diversity within the LGBT community — for example, finding that gay men and lesbians were the most likely to own (52 percent), while LGBT African-Americans (30 percent) and LGBT millennials (23 percent) were the least likely to be homeowners.

Despite being less likely to own a home right now, LGBT respondents largely had positive attitudes about homeownership. Three-quarters of LGBT renters agreed that owning is a good financial investment, and 72 percent of renters said they want to own a home in the future.

One of the primary reasons for the lower homeownership rate among the LGBT community may be a tendency to relocate more frequently. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they do not live in the same area in which they grew up, which is higher than the general population.

“We fielded this survey to get a better understanding of the current challenges facing the LGBT community, as well as their current housing choices, preferences, experiences, and aspirations,’’ said Danny Gardner, senior vice president of affordable lending and access to credit at Freddie Mac. “What we found was that several factors — including increased mobility, lower marriage [rates], a tendency to live in high-cost urban areas, and fears of discrimination — may be contributing to these lower homeownership rates.’’

More than four in 10 (46 percent) of LGBT renters fear discrimination in the home-buying process.

When deciding where to live, LGBT renters cited price, safety, and a LGBT-friendly location as the most important factors. If they were to buy a home, their top three priorities are price, safety, and LGBT-friendliness, in that order.

As seen with renters across all demographics, rising rents and home prices are slowing LGBT renters’ path to homeownership. One of biggest financial challenges for all potential home buyers is saving for a down payment. Seven in 10 LGBT renters who are interested in buying a home cite saving for a down payment as a challenge.

The survey indicated that, like the general population, more than half of LGBT renters said they either didn’t know how much is needed for a down payment or thought it was above 20 percent. Homeownership counseling and awareness of the many low-down payment programs available would probably go a long way in making the dream of homeownership a reality for many interested LGBT households.

“Unfortunately, the rising cost of renting and buying combined with misunderstandings about down payments are slowing homeownership rates among the LGBT community even further,’’ Gardner said. “That is why as an industry — lenders, appraisers, agents, home builders, and Freddie Mac must understand LGBT housing needs, recognize their challenges, and educate them on the buying process.’’

The survey was conducted by Community Marketing and Insights, and is based on an April 2018 online survey among 2,313 LGBT community members (ages 22 to 72) living in the United States. The survey has a margin of error of  plus or minus 2.10 percent.

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